|CLIPPERS CLOSE HOME STAND WITH OVERTIME WIN OVER PISTONS |
- ERIC PATTEN @ericpatten
LOS ANGELES–In the last month Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro has repeated two statements as much as any: his team “grinded” out a game and “Chris [Paul] made some big plays down the stretch.”
As the Clippers took on the Pistons Sunday afternoon it was more of the same. Del Negro’s team battled through most of three quarters and let their dynamic point guard close it out, ending their six-game home stand with an 87-83 come from behind victory in overtime at Staples Center.
“We found a way to win today and that’s what it really comes down to,” Del Negro said. “I’m proud of the guys and the way they battled. We didn’t shoot it particularly well again, but found a way.
The Clippers (26-18) shot 40.2% from the floor en route to winning two games in a row for the first time since February 15-16. But it was arguably their defensive effort, in addition to Paul’s brilliance, that made the difference.
Detroit (16-29) shot 38.3% and managed a mere nine points in the fourth quarter, a season low for a Clipper opponent.
Difference Maker: In what could seem like a cut-and-paste job from the previous afternoon, Paul dominated the game in the final few minutes and overtime. He scored nine of his 19 points in the extra frame, including back-to-back jumpers over rookie Brandon Knight, including a 3-pointer from straightaway that put the Clippers up 81-76.
Turning Point: The Clippers defense helped bring the team back. Despite trailing by nine with 7:01 to go, they held the Pistons to five points the rest of the way, mostly using a lineup of Paul, Blake Griffin, Randy Foye, Caron Butler, and newcomer Nick Young, who made his debut in the second quarter. Offensively, they inched closer thanks to two 3-pointers from Foye at nearly identical spots on the right wing and tied it with 19.2 seconds left when Paul missed a 4-footer and Griffin tipped the miss home.
Stat Line of the Night: Paul. Early on Paul made a point of getting his teammates involved, notching seven assists in the first quarter and 11 before the 8:00 mark of the third. He finished with a season-high 15 dimes to go with 19 points, nine rebounds, and four steals.
“I was trying to find my teammates,” Paul said. “Some guys couldn’t get their shot to fall and stuff like that so then you just have to try to go.”
More Stats: Blake Griffin. Double-double No. 28 for the Clipper big man did not come easily. He was forced to outwork big-bodied defenders Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace and appeared frustrated at times but the duo’s physical play. Still, Griffin managed 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Greg Monroe. It’s becoming apparent that Monroe is one of the best centers in the league. He had game highs in points (23) and rebounds (15), made 11-of-13 free throws, and was the go-to guy in overtime for Detroit, scoring twice in a row over Griffin.
Jonas Jerebko. The Swedish forward had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Pistons. He played a lengthy stretch in the second half after Maxiell was called for his fifth foul, spreading the floor with outside shooting and making plays around the rim.
Randy Foye. The shooting guard was one of only three Clippers in double figures, scoring 14 points in just 25 minutes, including the two big 3-pointers in the fourth and a layup to help seal the game in overtime.
Hot: Monroe. He put in 23 points on just 11 shots, making six, and only missed two of his 13 free throws.
Not: Mo Williams and Caron Butler. The Clippers are nearly unstoppable when Butler and Williams are making shots. However, Sunday the duo struggled, shooting a combined 5-for-26. Butler, though, did grab eight rebounds and make two steals in 37 minutes.
On winning in the final minutes:
Chris Paul: “I tell you all the time, we only like close games, we don’t believe in blowouts. You don’t get to work on things when you blow teams out, so we are going to stick to doing it like this.”
“It shows us once again, how much better we have to get. We were down eight going into the fourth quarter. At the end of the third, I got in the huddle and said, ‘Fourth quarter comeback, once again.’ We’ve got to figure out a way to go into the fourth quarter up 10 or up 12 or something like that.”
On Chris Paul’s play:
Blake Griffin: “He is a great player. We need him to control the end of games by making plays and that’s exactly what he does.”
On physicality of the game:
Jonas Jerebko: “We knew that coming in. They have Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, [Reggie] Evans. It was going to be a tough, physical game.”
On defense down the stretch:
Randy Foye: “Caron did a great job on Tayshaun Prince and Blake also did a great job [on Monroe]. We had four guards in there and we all had to rebound an lock in and play hard.”
Notes: Young scored nine points on 1-of-6 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line off the bench in his Clipper debut. He played 29 minutes, including all of overtime… The Clippers are 4-1 in overtime games this season. Their only loss game at home against San Antonio when Gary Neal made a 3-pointer in the final seconds to tie it… They are 10-10 in their last 20 games… Prince, who is from Compton, scored 20 points with seven rebounds for the Pistons, but was stripped by Paul on the final play of regulation… The Clippers were out-rebounded 47-40 and 13-10 on the offensive glass.
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