LOS ANGELES – Winners of two consecutive games, the L.A. Clippers came into a matinee contest against their inner-city rival Los Angeles Lakers and earned a 115-104 victory.
The Clippers got to a blistering start to this game, scoring the first 17 points of the game before the Lakers responded with a 16-2 run to get within three. Lakers coach Luke Walton inserted his reserves early and rode them for most of the first half. The Clippers led 55-50 despite allowing the Lakers to shoot just 38%, and 27 combined points from Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
Paul took over in the third quarter, scoring 14 points and dishing out three assists to give the Clippers their biggest lead of the game at 89-67, but as has been the case over the last couple of games, the lead would not remain in double-figures. The Lakers used a fiery 21-9 run to begin the final period against the Clippers bench to get within nine points. That’s when head coach Doc Rivers inserted his starters back into the game, and they took control led by 12 fourth-quarter points from Griffin.
Blake Griffin finished the night with a 36 points on 12-of-15 shooting from the field. Chris Paul poured in 29 points and 10 assists, his third consecutive game with at least 27 points and 10 assists. J.J. Redick scored 19 points with four three-pointers and DeAndre Jordan was a defensive force reeling in 12 rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots to go with his 11 points.
Quote of the Night
Chris Paul had his third straight game tonight of at least 27 points with 10 assists, but continues to preach team consistency as the regular season winds down.
“I think it’s all about consistency,” says Paul. “I say it all year long, as long as you are playing the right way and you are doing your principles. Sometimes you are going to lose, sometimes you are going to win. You have to be playing right, and as long as we are playing right, then that’s when it’s fun.
“When we were up 17-0, it wasn’t because we were [focusing on] scoring. It was because our defense was good. I think that is the most fun part and once we continue to capture that and defend, it will continue to be like that for us.”
Blake Griffin’s Big Night
Coming into the night, Blake Griffin needed just two points to become the second player in Clippers’ franchise history to score 10,000 points. He did so quite easily on his first shot of the game, and finished with 36 points on 12-of-15 shooting from the field. Griffin made all eight of his two point field goals and made a career high four three-pointers (on seven attempts). Griffin now has 10,034 points for his career, all with the Clippers.
The Clippers got out to an outstanding start tonight against the Lakers, scoring the first 17 points of the game on 7-of-8 shooting. Chris Paul had five points and four assists while J.J. redick hit a pair of three-pointers. All five starters scored in the run, but the Lakers came back and made it a much closer game the rest of the first half.
While the Clippers rank ninth in bench scoring with 38.6 points per game, they took on a Lakers team that’s number one in the NBA at 48.1 points off the bench per game. The Clippers’ second unit really missed Austin Rivers’ scoring and defense as their bench was outscored 55-13 tonight.
Coach Doc Rivers discussed the bench and whether his son’s absence could be attributed to the struggles.
“Well, it’s a loss, but we’ve had injuries all year so that can’t be the reason,” said the elder Rivers. “Obviously, he helps offensively, but really defensively, too. You take one of the main ball handlers out of that group and they’re keying on Jamal [Crawford a little bit more.]”
Holding Leads Still An Issue
The most talked about issue with the Clippers over the last week is their inability to hold a significant lead once they’ve built it up to double-digits. This following their collapse against the Sacramento Kings that saw the Clippers lose an 18-point lead with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
Tonight, the Clippers grabbed a 17-point lead in the opening minutes of the game, but allowed a 16-2 Lakers run to make it a close game. In the second half, the Clippers blew the game open taking a 22-point lead and coach Rivers allowed the second-unit to start the fourth period. Within minutes, the Lakers got the lead down to just eight points, and Rivers was forced to insert his starters to retake control of the game.
All Ice In D’Angelo Russell’s Veins
The Lakers have allowed D’Angelo Russell to run their offense since trading Lou Williams at the All-Star break, and he responded with 21.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.9 steals on 45% shooting since. The player known most for his “Ice in my veins” celebration had nothing but frozen veins today as he finished with a mere two points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field with three turnovers in 29 minutes of action. It was the second-lowest point total of the season for the Lakers’ post-All-Star scoring leader.
The Clippers now have three days off and won’t play again until Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks. Blake Griffin speaks for the team when he says these days of rest and practice are going to be huge for every individual.
“These rest days are big,” said Griffin. “At the beginning of this week, we had two days between games for the first time since February, so I thought it was great for us, not just physically, but mentally, just to kind of get out of the gym, get a day of treatment, and a day of practice.
“These next three days will be huge for guys that are a little banged up, for us to work on the things we need to work on. Little things here and there. Actually getting to do them live in practice is big, so we need to take advantage of days like these.”