BOSTON -- For most of the NBA's 60 years, Celtic pride has been about winning: 16 championships and three other appearances in the finals, forming a tradition of success that was the hallmark of the league.
Now, more than 20 years since their last title, almost a month since their last victory, pride is all they have left.
"Any time you're playing somebody who is ready to set a record of any kind of futility ... you know they have a lot of pride," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said.
"They are going to be coming with everything they have. They're young, but they are going to play hard. No one wants to go down in any kind of record book."
Elton Brand had 26 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks, and Cuttino Mobley added 20 points for the Clippers, who have won seven of their last eight. Tim Thomas scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, five of them during a 7-0 stretch in which Los Angeles turned a 71-69 deficit into a 76-71 lead.
The Clippers never trailed after Thomas' free throws snapped a 71-all tie.
"Two weeks ago we were out of the playoffs and now we are in the seventh seed," Brand said. "We are peaking right now."
Rajon Rondo, making his first career start, scored 23 points for the Celtics. Al Jefferson added 21 points and Delonte West had six points, 11 assists and a career-high 11 rebounds. Coach Doc Rivers said his young team had not given up.
The once-proud franchise has not won since beating Memphis on Jan. 5. The only thing the Celtics and Grizzlies are competing for these days is the top spot in the draft lottery and perhaps a chance to select Ohio State's Greg Oden or Texas' Kevin Durant.
"The plan is to stick together," Jefferson said. "We've got to stick together regardless of how bad it gets. We can't start turning on each other or pointing fingers at each other. The only reason we should be mad about anything right now is we should be mad about losing."
The most decorated team in NBA history, the Celtics have won 16 championships but none since 1986 -- by far the longest drought in franchise history.
Right now, they'd settle for a win.
In addition to their overall streak, they've lost a franchise-record 11 consecutive home games and are a league-worst 4-19 at home. Boston is 2-20 since Paul Pierce went out with a stress reaction in his left foot.
"It's just another loss that just keeps adding up," Boston forward Ryan Gomes said. "It's a tough challenge because you come into this locker room and it's the same result over the last 14 games. It's hard to keep high spirits because it's not working out the way we want it to."
West hit a long jumper to cut the deficit to 83-79 with 5:46 left. But Mobley sank a 3-pointer and, after Gomes made one free throw, Thomas hit a 3 to give the Clippers a nine-point lead.
- Brand was poked in the eye by Rondo in the third quarter but did not have to leave the game.
- The Celtics fell to 2-1 with Brian Scalabrine in the starting lineup.
- Pierce shot before the game and played one-on-one against Wally Szczerbiak, albeit not at full speed. Rivers said Pierce can put full pressure on his foot now and could return soon; there was no timetable for him to come back, though.
- The Celtics lost 13 in a row in 1993-94 and 1996-97.
- The Clippers are 9-3 since Sam Cassell returned from an eight-game absence with a left heel injury.
- The last time a Celtics player had a double-double without scoring 10 points was on April 6, 2003, when Antoine Walker had seven points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists vs. Washington.