CHRIS PAUL AND RANDY FOYE REVIVE CLIPPERS IN FOURTH |
LOS ANGELES–Chris Paul re-entered the game with the Clippers down double-digits to the Hornets in the fourth quarter. He went on to put on a show that Clippers fans, in attendance for the last home game of the season, are very familiar with.
The Clippers came from 13-points down to take out the Hornets, 107-98, thanks in part to another game Paul can put on his MVP resume.
He scored or assisted on 23 of the Clippers’ final 29 points, leading his team on a 29-9 run to close out the Hornets (20-44).“I wish it was [decided before crunch time] but sometimes it’s not, so you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Paul said. “It’s a long game.”
Mid-game, the Clippers found themselves shorthanded with Nick Young already sidelined with flu-like symptoms and Caron Butler ruled out after a hip injury. They got a boost in the fourth quarter from Randy Foye, Reggie Evans, and Eric Bledsoe, who each helped Paul carry the Clippers (40-24).
Difference Maker: The Clippers were lacking a shooting presence with Young ill and Mo Williams (3-of-13) struggling to knock down shots. Foye stepped up. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Hornets lead to one, then added a couple of free-throws and another 3-pointer to help the Clippers keep the lead. Foye had 11 fourth-quarter points—all scored in a two-minute stretch—and finished with 24 for the game.
“I just was locked in,” Foye said. “The way we were running offense, we were running misdirection. Either Blake was going to get a lob or I was going to get a three or Chris was going to get a layup. Simple as that.”
Turning Point: Hornets center Jason Smith was hobbling up the court, so head coach Monty Williams instructed his team to intentionally foul to stop the game. Paul happened to be in earshot, and smartly put up a 3-pointer as Greivis Vasquez came over to foul him. The shot didn’t go in, but all three free throws Paul was awarded did. The Clippers went up 93-91, their first lead since 63-62, and wouldn’t look back.
Stat Line of the Night: Paul barely missed out on a triple-double with 33 points, 13 assists and 8 steals. He shot 8-of-18 from the field and made all but two of his 19 free-throw attempts.
More Stats: Blake Griffin had his 40th double-double of the year with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
After missing a pair of games with flu-like symptoms, Reggie Evans checked in during the fourth quarter and pulled down 4 rebounds in 11 minutes.
Hornets guard and former Clipper Eric Gordon didn’t have a great day shooting the ball, but the Hornets were most effective when he was driving to the basket. Gordon had a team-high 17 points on 4-of-13 shooting and made 8-of-12 free-throws against his former team.
“Everyone here and everyone around the league knows how difficult it is to cover Eric,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He’s missed a lot of the season but he’s a difficult cover.”
Hot: Foye, who hit 6-of-12 threes and shot 8-of-16 overall.
Not: The Clippers in the third quarter. They made just 32 percent of their shots (and no threes) while the Hornets shot 74 percent. The Clippers were outscored by 15 in the frame as the Hornets’ lead ballooned to 84-74.
On the crowd:
Foye: “The crowd definitely did give us a boost. It made it tough on them. Everything was smooth, but once the crowd got into it and we picked up our intensity, it seemed like they had a fumble, a shot and a rebound, and that was it.”
On being part of the MVP conversation:
Paul: “It is cool, but I think more about our team. I would rather have a championship than MVP any day.”
On the third quarter:
Evans: “We didn’t really play Clipper basketball in the third quarter. We kind of relaxed and New Orleans did a good job of recognizing that we were relaxed and they took advantage of it. But eventually we woke up and managed to pull it out. We have to have a better mindset than what we did tonight going into the playoffs.”
The teams combined to shoot 77 free throws. The Clippers set season highs in makes (34) and attempts (43)… A Lakers win earlier in the day ensured they would remain a half-game ahead of the Clippers for the No. 3 seed and in the Pacific Division lead… The Clippers, still at No. 4 in the West, can clinch home court in the first round with a win or a Grizzlies loss… Griffin received his 12th technical foul of the season in the second half. Another technical would mean a one-game suspension, though Griffin said he hopes the foul will be rescinded upon league review. Griffin has already had one technical rescinded this season… DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler addressed the crowd before the last home game of the season. “We’d like to thank you guys for the support all season long,” Butler said. “Like Caron said, we thank you guys for the support and we’ll see you in the playoffs,” Jordan added.
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