The emotions of his return for former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers got the better of him after his new team -- the Los Angeles Clippers -- beat his old team 96-88 Wednesday night.
Talking about the adoration he received from the fans and a video tribute the Celtics gave him after the first quarter, Rivers had to pause mid-thought to compose himself before finishing his answer.
"I'm still emotional. I thought the fans were ... It was a really nice day," said Rivers. "It's such a classy place here. People don't get Boston. You have to be part of it to get it. It's a special place. The best decision I ever made was 10 years ago."
Veteran backup guard Jamal Crawford hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the second with 2:11 left, to seal things as the Clippers improved to 15-8 with their second straight win.
Rivers, who coached the Celtics for nine years and won a championship in 2008, was greeted with a standing ovation when he walked out of the locker room before the game. He then got another greeting during the introductions. A video tribute was played between the first and second quarters.
"I was basically useless the first 18 minutes of the game," said Rivers, who said halftime was more of a break for him than it was for his players, who knew what their role was on this special night.
"You could see at halftime, CP (guard Chris Paul), he was like, 'We got it. We got it.' He kept saying that. So I think they sensed that a little bit for me, and that was nice."
Rivers, who tipped his hat to new Celtics coach Brad Stevens (who was standing and applauding with the rest of the crowd during the video), said it was "tough" during the game because his former players kept talking to him. He predicted Stevens will coach the Celtics "for a long time."
One of his former players, injured point guard Rajon Rondo, greeted his old coach after the game. The two didn't always get along
Crawford came off the bench to score 21 points and he and fellow backup guard Darren Collison scored 19 of their team's 30 points in the fourth quarter. For the game, the Los Angeles bench outscored its counterpart 34-4
Paul had 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds and forward Blake Griffin delivered 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists as Los Angeles overcame 29 points by Boston forward Jeff Green.
"You could see it on his face, his passion for the people of Boston, how much he loves it here," Paul said of Rivers. "It's one of those things that almost goes unsaid -- you want to win this game for him."
The Celtics, the leaders of the dreadful Atlantic Division, fell to 10-14 with their second straight loss.
"I thought we played really well in the first half; I didn't think we played very well at all in the second half," said Stevens. "Hopefully we'll get better and I'll watch film to see if it was more them or more us."
Celtics guard Jordan Crawford, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, had 20 points, nine assists and five rebounds and forward Brandon Bass 17 points and 12 boards in the loss.
Late in the first half, the Celtics intentionally fouled Los Angeles big man DeAndre Jordan, who came in leading the league in field goal percentage and was last -- by a lot -- in foul shooting percentage. He went 1-for-4 from the line in the first half and missed two in the third quarter.
NOTES: Before the game, current Clippers coach (and former Celtics coach) Doc Rivers met the media and greeted old friends and former players in the hallway. "I'm an emotional guy," Rivers said. "I just hope I can coach the team tonight and get through it." ... "The Rivers Reunion Tour" hits Brooklyn on Thursday night, when the Clippers visit the Nets and former Celtics forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. ... Los Angeles F Antawn Jamison scored his 20,000th NBA point in the first half. ... The Celtics host the Knicks on Friday night, five days after beating New York 114-73 at Madison Square Garden. ... Veteran F Stephen Jackson, who was working out waiting for an NBA call, signed with and debuted for the injury-depleted Clippers, playing 12:18, going 0-for-3 from the floor (all 3-pointers) but playing good defense, according to Rivers. ... F Kris Humphries, who was performing well off the Celtics' bench, didn't play because of a bruised right knee. Boston rookie F/C Kelly Olynyk (ankle) missed his 10th consecutive game, but he might play Friday.