After struggling during Kevin Garnett's absence, the Boston Celtics are trying to get back on track now that he's returned to the lineup.
It would also help if another member of Boston's Big Three would snap out of his slump.
Garnett and the Celtics look to win back-to-back games for only the second time this month when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
Boston (28-13) went 4-6 in Garnett's absence, giving up 99.4 points per game after allowing 91.9 before he suffered a hyperextended right knee. Garnett returned to the lineup Friday for the first time since Dec. 28, scoring 13 points in a 98-95 overtime win over Portland. He also had four rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in 30 minutes as Boston snapped a three-game losing streak.
"I felt good. I thought I had some decent energy," said Garnett, who wore a padded brace on his knee. "The old '76 Pinto got banged up a little bit. But I just kept hitting the gas and kept going."
The Celtics were also helped by a clutch shot from Ray Allen, who missed 11 of his first 13 shots before hitting a key 3-pointer with 42 seconds remaining in overtime. He finished with nine points.
Allen has struggled with his shot recently. Although he's averaging 16.0 points, he's been held to single digits in three of four contests and has been held to 40.0 percent or worse shooting in those games.
"Ray is one of the great shooters of all time -- right behind me. I told him that in the huddle," said Paul Pierce, who scored 24 points. "We believe in him so much, no matter how he might be going."
While Allen is struggling, Pierce is enjoying his best run of the season, averaging 22.6 points in the last five games and shooting 57.1 percent in the last three. He missed the Celtics' 92-90 loss to the Clippers (20-23) on Dec. 27 with a right knee infection.
Los Angeles comes into TD Garden looking for its fourth win in five games. The Clippers are coming off a 92-78 win at Washington on Sunday which snapped an eight-game road losing streak. With the win, they also surpassed their victory total from last season.
"It just shows you we're a better team than we were last year," said Baron Davis, who had 11 points and 11 assists. "It just means that we still have a chance to have a great season, a winning season and that's the most important thing."
Davis, the Clippers' second-leading scorer at 16.2 points per game, had been held below 10 in three of the previous four games. A below 40-percent shooter for the season, Davis went 5 of 17 (29.4 percent) Sunday after shooting 2 for 13 in a loss to Denver on Thursday.
Davis didn't have any shooting difficulties against Boston, going 7 of 11 from the field for 24 points, including a buzzer beater in the win.
The Clippers, in the third game of an eight-game road trip, are looking to snap a 10-game road losing streak to teams with winning records. They have lost their last two trips to Boston, though -- both by double digits.
"We're improving, we're healthy, we're playing together, and our chemistry is better," Al Thornton said. "Our goal is to be .500 by the All-Star break. I think it's attainable."