BOSTON (AFP) - Doc Rivers' emotional return to Boston ended with a 96-88 NBA victory for his Los Angeles Clippers over the Celtics on Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013, at TD Bank Garden.
Jamal Crawford came up big off the bench, scoring 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Clippers rallied for the victory.
Rivers, who coached the Celtics to a 416-305 regular-season record over nine years and guided them to the 17th championship in club history in 2008, admitted it was a tough night for him at the arena he once called home - maybe tougher emotionally because of the warm welcome he received.
"This is just such a classy place," Rivers said, his voice breaking.
He was applauded warmly by Boston fans before the game, and again when the Celtics showed a video tribute to his tenure there after the first quarter.
"It was really nice when I walked out... I'm not used to walking out on that side and all those people, they lined up and I was basically useless for the first 18 minutes of the game," said Rivers, who landed in Los Angeles in the off-season in a deal that included the Clippers giving the Celtics a 2015 first-round draft pick.
"It didn't surprise me, because that's just the way - you've got to live here to understand that - that's just the way they are. It's just an amazing fan base, it really is."
Clippers players said before the game they wanted to make Rivers' return to Boston a winning one.
Point guard Chris Paul scored 22 points with nine assists and seven rebounds in the victory, and Blake Griffin added 18 points for Los Angeles, who improved to 3-2 on their seven-game road trip.
"We wanted to get this one for coach and continue the momentum we've had on the road," Crawford said.
"We felt the emotional pull in the game, so I can't imagine what he went through. He was so good here and he's so good now... It was good to come back and get some closure." While the spotlight was on Rivers, Clippers reserve forward Antawn Jamison reached a career milestone with a three-pointer in the second quarter that took his career points tally to 20,000.
Jamison is one of 20 players in NBA history to have 20,000 points along with 8,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.
Rivers' reunion road trip continues on Thursday when the Clippers face a Brooklyn Nets team now featuring former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.