The Celtics won their fourth straight game without Rajon Rondo yesterday, and while that is certainly quite a feat, the numerical leap of 31 points in 38 days may be even more impressive.

The full-rotation Celts lost to the Clippers in Los Angeles by 29 on Dec. 27, trailing by as many as 32 in a no-compete defeat. Yesterday the Bostonians led by as many as 19 and won by two over the same team in an All-Star point guard-less duel (the Clips were without Chris Paul).

While many will point with some validity to the fact the Celtics are sharing the ball and playing a more decentralized game these days, the difference in the two meetings, according to yesterday's vanquished, comes down to a simpler concept. Aggression.

Comparing the games, Blake Griffin said, "I think both teams played differently. When we were at home, we were the attacker and we kind of put it on them early. It was kind of the opposite way here."

"They were the aggressors," said Jamal Crawford, who dragged the Clips back into contention with 20 second-half points, "and that's what we do to teams when we're successful. They're playing better, for sure."

"They were the aggressors," said Matt Barnes, who nearly dragged Avery Bradley to the floor while trying to stop his second-half drive. "They're a veteran team, a great-coached team, and they knew we handled them pretty well at home. So they came out the aggressors tonight and it took us too long to get it going.

"They just play hard. You expect a Doc Rivers team to play hard. They were setting good screens. They were the aggressors. They had us on our (heels), and by the time we counterpunched we were almost down 20. It's hard to fight back, especially on the road."

That's pretty much the way it was for the Celtics in Los Angeles — except for the part where the team behind counterpunched. The Celts never really hit back in December, saying afterward that they were too concerned about stopping the Clippers and failed to go on the offensive — to which their 77 points would attest.