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Celtics win fourth straight without injured Rondo

(Reuters) - The Boston Celtics withstood a furious comeback from the Los Angeles Clippers for a 106-104 win on Sunday to record their fourth consecutive victory since losing starting point guard Rajon Rondo to injury.

Paul Pierce drained a crucial three-pointer with two seconds remaining, pushing Boston's edge to 106-101 after a big lead was trimmed to two points in the final minute, and the home team survived despite Jamal Crawford's game-ending three-pointer.

Boston has won four straight since Rondo, the team's third-leading scorer and leader in steals and assists, was ruled out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"Balance is the formula for our success, you know we got to do it by committee," said Celtics reserve Jason Terry, who had 13 points.

"Obviously we got two of our key parts down (with Jared Sullinger also out for season), but again, spreading the wealth. We got to make sure everyone gets involved, everybody's into the game."

The Clippers, however, are struggling without Chris Paul (knee) who has missed 10 of their last 12 while Los Angeles has dropped six of their last eight.

Behind Pierce's team-high 22 points the Celtics controlled the way early and led by 15 in the fourth quarter before the visitors fought back to make things tense.

Eric Bledsoe, starting in place of Paul, had 23 points and 10 assists while Blake Griffin finished with 20 and 11 rebounds.

Los Angeles also got 23 from Crawford, who scored 12 in the final quarter to spark the comeback.

On Boston's final possession, the Clippers chose not to foul and the Celtics ran the clock all the way down to two seconds before Pierce nailed the back-breaking shot.

"I wouldn't have wanted to foul them there," said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. "If we get a stop there, three or four seconds to go we've got plenty of time."

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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