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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, February 9th (All times eastern)

Los Angeles Clippers (23-25) at Boston Celtics (24-25), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of clubs trying to get back on the winning track go head-to-head tonight, when the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Celtics host the Los Angeles Clippers at the FleetCenter.

Boston had a three-game winning streak halted on Tuesday night, falling 121-97 to the Milwaukee Bucks at Bradley Center. Raef LaFrentz and Justin Reed led the Celtics with 13 points apiece, while Jiri Welsch and Ricky Davis each posted 11 points. Marcus Banks chipped in 10 points in the defeat.

Earlier Tuesday, the Celtics traded forward Walter McCarty to the Phoenix Suns for a 2005 conditional second-round draft choice and cash. McCarty had been with the club since 1997 but was dissatisfied with his diminishing role on the team.

To fill the roster spot, the Celtics activated Reed, who had been out with a knee injury. Reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week Paul Pierce was held to just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting for the Celtics. It marked just the second time this season that Pierce, who was named a Eastern Conference All-Star reserve on Tuesday, was held under double figures.

Boston shot 48.7 percent in the contest, including 4-of-15 (.267) from three- point range. The Celtics mustered just 17-of-26 (.654) from the free throw line in the ugly defeat.

The Celtics surrendered 78 points in the first half to the Bucks, two short of their franchise record set on Jan. 19, 1963 against the Syracuse Nationals.

Boston has won its last two home games to improve to 16-8 in its friendly confines this season. The Celtics are beginning a four-game homestand tonight and won't hit the road again until February 22.

Despite Tuesday's loss, the Celtics remain atop the Atlantic by a half-game over Philadelphia. The Nets are lurking just 2 1/2 contests behind in third place.

Los Angeles enters with back-to-back losses on its current nine-game road trip. The Clippers dropped a 106-104 decision to Philadelphia on Sunday at the Wachovia Center.

Bobby Simmons paced the Clippers with 27 points. Elton Brand contributed 21 points and Chris Kaman finished with 18 for Los Angeles, which has dropped two straight after a three-game winning streak. Quinton Ross collected 15 points and six boards in the loss.

Rick Brunson finished with nine points and 11 assists, while Zeljko Rebraca had 11 points for the Clippers, who have lost eight straight and 10 of their last 11 at Philadelphia.

Los Angeles continued to play without forward Corey Maggette (shoulder) and guard Kerry Kittles (groin). Maggette has missed the last five contests, while Kittles has sat out 11 games in a row. Maggette will be a game-time decision tonight, while Kittles is doubtful.

The Clippers, who have lost eight of nine and 12 of their last 14 road contests, are 6-15 in foreign buildings this season.

Boston came up with a 134-127 double overtime victory over the Clippers on December 13. The Celtics have won eight of 10 and 11 of the last 14 meetings in this series, including winning seven of nine at home.

02/09 10:17:41 ET


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