Game #14 | November 23, 2013
STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES – A 20-point lead had evaporated, and Chris Paul, who made four superb plays in the closing two minutes Saturday afternoon, missed the second of two free throws with 1.9 seconds to go, allowing the visiting Sacramento Kings a shot to win.
The somewhat maligned Clippers defense needed to make a play.
And they did. Jared Dudley forced a difficult inbounds pass to DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan blocked the Sacramento big man’s turnaround at the buzzer, preserving a 103-102 victory for the Clippers at Staples Center.
“We predicted pretty good,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “We thought the first option would be that they would try to go from out of bounds to Cousins. That’s why we dropped Dudley all the way back in his lap and then right when they threw it up, we told him, ‘You’ve got to take the side out of bounds [away].’
“It ended up in Cousins’ hands and he had to take a tough shot.”
Jordan finished with 17 points (6-for-6 from the field and 5-for-14 from the foul line), 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Blake Griffin scored 16 points with 10 rebounds and four assists, Chris Paul had 22 points, nine assists and six rebounds and J.J. Redick (15 points) and Jared Dudley (11 points) both scored in double figures.
The Clippers (9-5) earned a 21-8 lead in the first quarter, scoring 16 points in a row. But a bevy of turnovers and 35-point second quarter for the Kings (4-8) narrowed the halftime margin. The lead continued to dwindle in the second half thanks to Cousins, who had 23 points and 19 rebounds, Isaiah Thomas and Patrick Patterson, who topped 20 points apiece off the bench.
With 2:43 to go, the Clippers trailed 94-89, but Griffin snared an offensive rebound off a missed 3-pointer by Jamal Crawford. Griffin drew a foul on Cousins on his way back up and Cousins subsequently continued with the play knocking Griffin back and earning a technical foul that proved costly.
Redick made the technical free throw and Griffin made the two that followed. After the Kings scored, Dudley buried a 3-pointer from the right corner off a feed from Paul. Sacramento answered with a layup by Luc Mbah a Moute, slicing to the rim off an underhanded feed from Cousins. But Paul tied it on the next possession, making a 3-pointer falling out of bounds along the sideline as the shot-clock expired.
But every time the Clippers made a play, the Kings responded with a basket of their own or got free throws. Paul made a layup, Thomas got fouled. Griffin threw down a dunk off a well-orchestrated middle pick-and-roll, Thomas got more foul shots. It wasn’t until Paul knocked down 1-of-2 free throws on the Clippers’ final possession that they followed it up with a stop.
But in the end it was the one that mattered most.
“Even though I’m mad that I missed the free throw,” Paul said. “It was kind of fitting that we won the game with a defensive stop because we’ve been trying to get better defensively.”
The first quarter was perhaps the best extended stretch of defense the Clippers have demonstrated. They held the Kings to 13 points on 30.0 percent shooting. They expertly helped the helper, as Rivers likes to say.
“It can’t be much better,” Rivers said of the early defense. “We were in the right spots, our hands were active. It was sensational. And then we gave up 35 points in the second quarter.”
The Clippers earned a 20-point lead early in the second on Jamal Crawford’s 38th career 4-point play and led 40-20 after a Ryan Hollins alley-oop two possessions later.
The Kings called timeout and proceeded to scored 28 of the next 43 points.
“We knew they weren’t going to stop playing,” Crawford said. “They’ve been down in games and they’ve shown a lot of resolve.”
The Clippers have won their last six games at home against the Kings and are 11-2 overall since 2010-11… The Clippers went 26-for-45 (57.8 percent) from the foul line… They are 32-0 when holding an opponent to 42.0 percent shooting or worse since last season. They have done so three times in 2013-14, including Saturday when the Kings went 37-for-88 (42.0 percent)… The Clippers committed 19 turnovers, including six by Griffin… In the second half Sacramento made a point of going inside. They scored 10 consecutive points in the paint to open the third quarter and finished with 46 for the game… Travis Outlaw was ejected with 8:06 left in the game after he pulled Redick down by the neck chasing him on a fast-break layup attempt… The Clippers were 11-for-25 from 3-point range. They have made at least 11 3-pointers four times this season, including twice against the Kings…
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on playing with a big lead:
"It‘s hard. I always think that when you get a big lead, the only way you maintain the lead is with your defense. That‘s the only way you maintain a lead. I think 90 percent of players in the league think, ‘Now, if we can just keep scoring.’ I think right when you get a 20-point lead, it‘s human nature: everyone becomes an offensive player. ‘Now, let‘s see how many more points we can get.’ Instead of understanding that if you can get stops, the frustration alone will take you to 30. So, it‘s a good lesson for us.”
Clippers forward Blake Griffin on remaining focused with an early lead:
“I think it’s a mental thing. You have to stay locked in and be focused, and prepared to really stay on yourself—not allow yourself or your teammates to get loose or relax.”
Clippers forward Jared Dudley on on the play of Chris Paul:
"To see Chris Paul out there, to see what he does night in and night out with me being his teammate, to me is amazing."
Kings guard Isaiah Thomas on the difference in the game:
“Just execute better, offensively and defensively. They‘re [The Clippers] a great team over here. They‘re a veteran team that‘s been through the Playoffs and know how to win. So, we‘re still learning and this is a process. I think today, overall, we got better, we just didn‘t get the win."
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan on first quarter defense:
“Our intensity on defense was what got us the lead early. I feel [like] we got away from that [in] the second quarter, that‘s why they cut the lead down. If we can play that way consistently for 48 minutes, we‘re going to be tough to beat."
Postgame: Clippers vs Kings 11/23Clippers open up a big lead early but edge out a win over visiting Kings.
Clippers 16-0 Run & Three-PointersSome of the best shots from the Clippers victory over the Kings
Blake Griffin reacts to D Rose injuryAs the Clippers prepare to play the Bulls, Blake Griffin shares his personal insight into Derrick Rose's knee injury.
Paul to JordanDeAndre Jordan finishes with a powerful slam.
Clippers vs. Kings: First halfBlake Griffin has 12 points in the first half as the Clipper lead the Kings at halftime, 54-45.
Doc Rivers Pregame News Conference 11-23-13Watch Doc Rivers address the media before the game vs Sacramento Kings on 11-23-13.
By: Eric Patten | Follow @EricPatten
LOS ANGELES – With the front half of the Clippers’ only four games in five days stretch of the season completed, they return home to begin a rare 12:30 back-to-back at Staples Center.
The Clippers (8-5) take on the Sacramento Kings (4-7) on Saturday before the Chicago Bulls come to town the following day. It is the fourth time in the past four seasons that the Clippers have played afternoon home games on consecutive days. They are 6-0 in the previous occurrences.
After winning on opening night, Sacramento proceeded to lose seven of its next eight games, including a 110-101 loss to the Clippers in California’s capital on Nov. 1. Saturday will be the second of three meetings this month between the Clippers and Kings.
And while the Clippers have played the second toughest schedule in the NBA based on strength of schedule, the four-win Kings do not necessarily constitute a letup. Sacramento has scored at least 107 points in three of their last five games and has enough of an ability to get to the rim with DeMarcus Cousins’ post presence and the driving ability of Isaiah Thomas to pose problems for a Clippers defense that is still struggling to find its way.
They own the league’s third most efficient offense (107.7 points per 100 possessions), but defensively are ranked 26th in efficiency rating. It’s something the team has been adamant needs to balance out.
“We’ve talked about it since camp, there are going to be nights when we’re not going to make shots,” Blake Griffin said, “but we need to be able to lean on our defense and rely on our defense.”
DeAndre Jordan vs. DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins and Griffin is likely the marquee matchup in terms of how they feel about each other, but Jordan will spend most of the game guarding the Kings’ versatile big man. Jordan had his fewest rebounds of the season (eight) in Sacramento on Nov. 1, due in large part to foul trouble that kept him off the court for chunks of the second half. In 12 games against the Clippers, all with Jordan as the starting center, Cousins has averaged 14.3 points per game (third worst average of his career versus an opponent). Cousins’ struggles against the Clippers are likely three-fold. First, four of the games have been decided by 12 points or more, meaning the starters were likely removed from the floor in the fourth quarter. Second, Cousins has committed 43 fouls (nearly four per game) in those dozen games. And finally, Jordan has the quickness and size to match up with Cousins.
Earlier this year, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said guarding “heavy” centers that can stretch the floor is arguably the toughest things Jordan will be asked to do all season in terms of an individual defensive assignment.
THINGS TO WATCH:
1. Lineup changes and lineup consistency. The Kings will likely use three different starters from the first time the Clippers played them. Patrick Patterson, Marcus Thornton and John Salmons will come off the bench with rookie Ben McLemore, forward Jason Thompson and former UCLA Bruin Luc Mbah a Moute starting.
Kings head coach Mike Malone began tinkering with the lineup after the team started 1-5. "We have a lot of guys that just care about themselves on this team," Malone told the Sacramento Bee on Nov. 10. "And if their game is not going, they quit playing.”
On the other hand, the Clippers are expected to start the same five for the 14th consecutive game to start the season. They have not had a consistent starting unit this far into the season in the last two decades.
2. Points in the paint. The Clippers have allowed 40 points in the paint or more in all but one game this season. They give up the most paint points in the league (47.2 per game). But that doesn’t mean post players are just pounding them inside. On Thursday, the Thunder scored 58 points in the paint against the Clippers, mostly on drives. Rivers said they tracked 22 points in the first half coming off individual defense, where a player beat his man off the dribble and got to the rim. That could be problematic against the speedy Thomas, who had 29 points in the first game against the Clippers and leads the NBA in points off the bench.
3. Malone and Paul. The first-year Kings coach spent one season in New Orleans with Chris Paul, who is riding an NBA-record 13 straight points-assists double-doubles to start the year. Malone and Paul have a mutual admiration for each other and prior to their last meeting, Malone went as far as to say Paul’s the most competitive person he’s ever been around inside or outside of basketball.
“The best leader or competitor I’ve ever been around, and I’ve been on some pretty good teams and around some pretty good teams when I was in Cleveland,” Malone said. “This is my 13th year in the NBA, but Chris is a terminator. He’s a guy that you love in your foxhole and he’s going to demand it from himself and everybody else on a daily basis. I would never bet against that kid in anything. That’s just who he is. He’s got that kind of heart and that competitive spirit.”
The Clippers are 10-2 against the Kings since the start of the 2010-11 season, including a 5-0 record at Staples Center. It matches the second longest home winning streak against the Kings in franchise history… Matt Barnes is out after undergoing surgery to repair a torn retina in his left eye… By the time they play in Sacramento on Nov. 29, the Clippers and Kings will have met six times, including a home-and-home series in the preseason, since the final game of last regular season… Cousins suffered a dislocated left shoulder Tuesday, but played through it the next night wearing a padded sleeve… Griffin could reach seven straight 20-point, 10-rebound games for just the second time in his career…
LAST TIME OUT