GAMEDAY REPORT: CLIPPERS VS. PELICANS - 12/18/13
Game #27 | December 18, 2013
Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES – Doc Rivers, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul all agreed that the Clippers were sluggish; that the 13-game road trip had perhaps caught up to them two nights later than they expected.
Tired legs hardly made a difference, though, Wednesday night as they Clippers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans, 108-95, for their third consecutive double-digit victory.
The Clippers (18-9) led by as many as 19 points, held New Orleans (11-13) to 39.8 percent shooting and got double-doubles from all three of their stars. Chris Paul had 12 points and 11 assists and Blake Griffin scored a team-high 21 points with 10 rebounds and five assists before fouling out with just over four minutes remaining.
But it was DeAndre Jordan who led the Clippers past the Pelicans, spoiling the return of Anthony Davis from a broken hand that kept him out of seven games.
Davis scored 24 points with 12 rebounds off the bench, but Jordan, who has not only entered the conversation for the Most Improved Player award but perhaps Defensive Player of the Year, topped him.
The sixth-year center finished with 14 points (6-of-6 shooting), 20 rebounds and five blocked shots. And when the Clippers were searching for a spark early in the game, Rivers said Jordan provided it.
“Thank goodness,” Rivers said of Jordan’s effort. “I just felt like we were flat in the first half and I thought D.J. single-handedly kept us in with his defense and his rebounding and everything else. You have nights like this and it’s nice to win on a night like this.”
The night included Paul and Jamal Crawford, who made his third consecutive start, shooting just 7-for-26 from the field and the Clippers allowing 55 rebounds and a triple-double to Tyreke Evans in his return from an ankle injury.
But much like they did in their previous two victories over Washington and San Antonio, the Clippers’ defense dictated the game. They limited New Orleans, one of the league’s most prolific teams in transition, to just 12 fast-break points (more than seven below their season average), held Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday in check, and allowed just one 3-pointer in the second half.
“We’ve leaned on our defense at times when we’ve needed it,” Griffin said of the last three wins. “We’ve allowed our defense to get us into offense and get it going. There was a stretch tonight when it seemed like we missed a lot of shots in a row or didn’t hit as many but I thought we stayed in the game or maintained our lead because of our defense.”
Defense has become something of the Clippers’ mantra of late. Since Nov. 19 they are third in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions (96.2). It was no different Wednesday, particularly in the third quarter, when they outscored New Orleans 20-9 in the first 7:18 to open up a 72-54 lead. The Pelicans were never got any closer than 11 points from then on.
“On nights like this you’ve got to find a way to win,” Paul said. “We did that.”
Jared Dudley, whose emergence from a two-week long shooting slump has coincided with the Clippers three-game winning streak, chipped in 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting. They also got 24 points combined from Darren Collison and Willie Green off the bench.
Collison perhaps had his game with the Clippers. He put relentless pressure on New Orleans’ defense in the opening half, getting to the rim in semi-transition and even twice in half-court situations. He made six of the Clippers’ 16 free throws in the half, and played 12 minutes, nearly all consecutive, after Paul checked out with two fouls in the first quarter.
He finished with 14 points, one shy of his season high, five rebounds and went 9-for-9 from the foul line.
In their last three games, the Clippers have won by an average of 18, made 31 3-pointers, and scored no fewer than 108 points… Crawford was 10-for-11 from the free throw line. He’s scored exactly 17 points in each of his three starts… Seven Clippers scored in double figures… They assisted on 25 of their 33 field goals, including 11 straight to start the game… The Clippers are 10-2 at home this season… Austin Rivers, who played for the second time against his father, scored two points in 14:35 off the bench… Jordan had his 12th double-double, a career high, in just his 27th game of the season…
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on opposing his son, Austin:
“I actually didn’t like it. I’ve said it before, you know, going against other people you like, but going against your own son, it’s no fun for you. When he has the ball as a parent you’re like, ‘Don’t get hurt, don’t make a mistake, but turn the ball over.’ It’s just tough. I don’t get a lot of enjoyment out of it, but I thought I would. Like last year when we played and the game started, I didn’t like it. I don’t know what parent is going to cheer against his own kid.”
Clippers forward Jared Dudley on where the Clippers are in the big picture:
“I think we are learning. You can tell it’s been a couple months that we have been playing; chemistry [has] been up and down but I think the groove defensively has been a lot better.”
Clippers guard Chris Paul on DeAndre Jordan’s performance:
“Outstanding. Five blocked shots, 14 points, 20 rebounds is no question, MVP of the night. We don’t win this game without his effort. We were a little sluggish tonight. You would expect that against the Spurs, but it seemed like it caught up with us tonight. He just kept telling us: ‘Come on fellas’ and we fed off that.”
Clippers guard Willie Green on execution in Wednesday’s game:
“Everything triggers off of defense. We can play good sound defense, make guys take contested twos and contested tough shots; we can get out and run and play the good pace that we want to play at.”
Pelicans center Jason Smith on how DeAndre Jordan impacted the game:
“He’s a very active player. He went out there with the mindset to play hard, and he definitely did that tonight. He’s very athletic. He was running the floor well. You can just tell that they were having good synergy tonight.”
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By: Eric Patten | Follow @EricPatten