With one emotional hurdle cleared, Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers have to get back to business tonight when they visit the Brooklyn Nets.
You can watch the game as part of an NBA doubleheader on TSN2, starting at 8pm et/5pm pt. Later, the Portland Trail Blazers host the Houston Rockets.
Rivers returned to Boston as the Clippers coach on Wednesday, and although he guided his Los Angeles squad to a 96-88 victory at TD Garden, it was an emotional evening.
Rivers spent nine seasons at the helm of the Boston Celtics, leading them to an NBA title in 2008. While his split this offseason wasn't without some acrimony, the Boston faithful gave Rivers a standing ovation before the game and once again during a video tribute between the first and second quarters.
"It was just a really nice day," said a highly emotional Rivers. "This is, it's just such a classy place here. So it was really nice when I walked out and, you know I'm not used to walking out on that side, and all those guys, the people, they lined up and I was basically useless for the first 18 minutes of the game.
"I thought, it was just nice."
The Clippers overcame a six-point halftime deficit with a 27-19 third quarter. They held on with a 30-24 fourth to earn their second consecutive win and push their mark to 3-2 on this seven-game road trip.
Jamal Crawford came up huge down the stretch, netting 11 of his 21 points in the fourth. Chris Paul tallied 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the triumph while Blake Griffin scored 18 points.
Antawn Jamison hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter to go over 20,000 points in his career and the newest Clipper, Stephen Jackson, went scoreless in 12:18 of action.
The Clippers finish this road trip Saturday night in Washington.
Brooklyn also features some nostalgia for Rivers in former Celtics' stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Those two, along with Ray Allen, were the centerpieces of the Boston title team, but the Nets already visited the Clippers this season, so Rivers has seen both.
The Nets have won two in a row, including a home victory over the Celtics on Tuesday.
Deron Williams returned from a nine-game absence and scored a season-high 25 points to go with seven assists.
"He's a guy who can put pressure with a single fast break," Nets head coach Jason Kidd said of Williams. "Just his presence gave everybody a lift."
Brook Lopez scored 24 points and Alan Anderson added 15. Garnett and Andray Blatche finished with 11 apiece.
Pierce returned earlier than expected from a hand injury. He played 22:14 off the bench Tuesday and had four points, all from the foul line. It was the first time Pierce and Garnett played their old team.
"It's different," Garnett said of facing the Celtics. "But no matter who's playing on that team, I'll always have an affiliation with that."
The Clippers downed the Nets, 110-103 in L.A. on Nov. 16 and have won three of the last five meetings. The Clippers have dropped five straight as the visitors in this series.
Rockets at Trail Blazers (TSN2, 10:30pm et/7:30pm pt)
The Portland Trail Blazers will try to avenge one of their two home losses this season when they welcome the Houston Rockets to the Moda Center.
The Rockets knocked off the Blazers, 116-101, in Portland on Nov. 5. Of course, the Blazers were an ordinary 2-2 after that setback. No one in the NBA expected what's happened since, which is a 16-2 record, including wins in five of their last six.
Portland earned a tough victory in Salt Lake City Monday night, defeating the Utah Jazz, 105-94. It was an off night shooting the 3-pointer for the Blazers, but Portland scored 44 points in the paint.
"With our offense, I want us to be opportunistic with whatever the game gives us," head coach Terry Stotts said. "If it gives us 3s, we knock them down. If it gives us the paint, that's good too with LaMarcus on the block. One thing we've done well with offensively is we take what the game gives us."
Aldridge, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, was the game- high scorer with 24 points. Damian Lillard finished with 18 points, followed by 16 from Wesley Matthews.
Robin Lopez registered a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Nicolas Batum only managed seven points, but handed out 11 assists.
Portland will embark on a four-game eastern trip following Thursday's game. The Blazers visit Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland and Minnesota on the sojourn.
The Rockets have won two straight since losing two in a row. They begin a three-game trek west and will also head to Golden State and Sacramento.
Houston received some great news at practice on Tuesday as Jeremy Lin was a full participant. He hasn't played in almost two weeks with a right knee sprain, but declared himself ready to go for Thursday night.
"I feel good, no limitations," Lin told the team's website. "I'll be back (for Thursday's game). I'm full go. (I might need) a little conditioning, or maybe I'm not jumping as high off of that right foot, but I never really jumped that high off the right foot, anyway."
Lin averaged 15.3 ppg before the injury.
Omer Asik and Greg Smith both missed practice and are expected to miss the Portland game. Chandler Parsons was a limited participant because of back spasms, but he's going to play Thursday.
Houston won two in a row at home, highlighted by a 98-88 victory on Sunday over the Orlando Magic.
James Harden dumped in 27 points with 10 assists and eight rebounds, while Dwight Howard scored 20 points and grabbed 22 rebounds against his former team.
"I just wanted to get the win tonight," Howard said. "I'm just happy our team came out tonight, settled down and played basketball."
Parsons had 18 points and Terrence Jones had a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
The Rockets have won three straight over the Blazers and seven of the last nine meetings. Houston has won two in a row and five of six in Portland.