Game #15 | November 24, 2013
STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES – Point guard Chris Paul was somewhat foretelling in his postgame media session Saturday. The Clippers pulled out a one-point win over the Kings and Paul lamented the starters had been forced to play deep into the fourth quarter of all of their previous 14 games.
That all changed fewer than 24 hours later.
The Clippers, wearing their “Back in Blue” short-sleeve jerseys for the first time in the regular season, rolled past the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls, 121-82, Sunday at Staples Center.
It was the widest margin of victory in franchise history and was an emphatic cap to their four games in five nights. The Clippers shot 58.5 percent from the field, held the Bulls under 40 percent, and topped 25 points in every quarter. So, much for weary legs in the most daunting stretch of the season, in terms of frequency of games.
“I don’t know what it was, but you could tell that because it was an afternoon game that they had no idea this was the fourth game in five,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought we had unbelievable energy.”
Paul, who played just 27 minutes and spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench alongside the other five starters, scored 16 points with 17 assists and two steals. Blake Griffin had 15 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots for eighth double-double in a row. Jared Dudley added a season-high 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting. J.J. Redick had 19 and Antawn Jamison, making his first appearance of the season, scored 11.
The Clippers (10-5) opened the game with baskets on seven of their first nine possessions, Dudley connected on three of them, all from the right side of the floor, and was halfway to his previous season-best of 15 points less than five minutes into the game. Dudley and Redick combined for 29 points in the first half and the Clippers led, 65-52.
“I felt like all week I’ve gotten great looks,” Redick said. “Tonight was probably my best shooting night of the week, but some nights they go in and some nights they don’t. I’m a realest. I never really get too up or down about that sort of thing.”
The Bulls (6-6) had reason to be down. They were without Rose for the first time since the former MVP went down with a torn medial meniscus in his right knee Friday and are in the heart of a six-game road trip. They kept pace with the Clippers for a brief spell, but disintegrated as the second half wore on.
“I anticipated them to play great tonight,” Rivers said of the Bulls. “But we jumped on them so quickly that that had to have a mental effect. You don’t lose a Rose. Had they come out early and played well, I thought the game might have been tight and tough all night.”
Instead, the Clippers were as hot from the field as at any point this season. All 12 players who dressed made at least one field goal, six players scored in double figures and they assisted on 32 of their 48 made baskets. Afterwards, though, Rivers, much like Redick alluded to, dismissed the shot-making as part of the ups and downs of the NBA season. He was much more inclined to talk about his team’s defense.
“It was the imperfect storm in some ways because of no Rose,” Rivers said. “But I just thought our defensive energy tonight was fantastic.
“I was just really happy. This was the most active our hands have been defensively. It was yesterday’s first quarter for four quarters.”
Against the Kings on Saturday, Rivers said the defense in the first quarter was what he envisioned. But they failed to maintain and as it went away so did a 20-point lead. None such problems occurred Sunday and after the bench helped extend the lead in the third quarter to a seemingly insurmountable margin, Griffin and Paul and company were resting comfortably on the bench.
“Me and Blake were talking about that,” Paul said. “It’s the first game this season we got the opportunity to sit all quarter. That’s huge for our team. This was our fourth game in five nights. We could’ve come in with a lot excuses, but we did what we were supposed to do.”
Griffin shared Paul’s sentiment: “We were sitting there on the baseline and I said, ‘This is the first time I’ve sat in the fourth quarter. I miss this feeling.’ Hopefully, we can keep that up.”
The previous franchise record for margin of victory was 37 points. The Buffalo Braves did so twice, including most recently in a 130-93 win over Washington on Jan. 14, 1978… The Clippers led by as many as 42 points in the fourth quarter Sunday… Dudley last topped 20 points in a game on Mar. 9, 2013 when he was a member of the Phoenix Suns… Paul’s 17 assists matched his season, set on Nov. 4 against Houston… The Clippers are 5-0 when scoring at least 20 points in transition. They had 20 against the Bulls… Chicago was led by a game-high 22 points from Luol Deng… Jamison’s 11 points moved him 31 shy of 20,000 points for his career…
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on his team’s ability to get into their offense quickly:
“I thought our bigs tonight were in for the fight. They were in there and they rebounded. Even on makes, we’ve really been harping on them, get the ball and get it out as quick as possible and get it up the floor. We scored a ton of points after they made shots, in six seconds. I just think when you can do that it really hurts the other team because they can’t take a breath and you’re already on top of them.”
Clippers forward Blake Griffin on what he learned about team in last four games:
“When we dig in and really want to, we’re tough defensively and offensively. When we run the offense like we were taught, and play defense when we’ve been taught, we’re much, much tougher. But we can’t become relaxed and reliant on just trying to outscore teams. So it’s more of a mindset thing for us, going into each game and knowing that we’ve got to grind.”
Clippers forward Jared Dudley on the game:
“I think for the team, the pace, it was something we have been doing off and on throughout the season, but it was really constant. I think tonight it was the first time that every time we got a rebound we were looking to give the ball up. We’ve been shooting the ball pretty well. For me personally, the same shots I had tonight I had through all season, a little more confident and getting a little better groove.”
Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich on the Clippers:
“First half, I thought we were good offensively, but defensively, we never really made them feel us. They pretty much just had their way the whole game. They’re a good team. They’re a tough challenge. They shoot the three really well. Their guys will put pressure on you at the rim, and obviously with Chris [Paul] running the show, that’s about as good as it gets.”
Clippers guard Darren Collison on how he is adapting to his role:
“I’m just getting more comfortable with the offense. Doc has given me the leeway to call sets out and continue to just play my game. I knew it was going to take a little bit of time, but I feel a lot more comfortable and that’s a good sign.”
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By: Eric Patten | Follow @EricPatten