The Clippers Bench Leads Them Past 76ers
LOS ANGELES – Any one game, the player heating off the bench can be Jamal Crawford. Another night, it could be Austin Rivers, or maybe Marreese Speights.
In an 82-game regular season, depth matters. Players miss games constantly due to injuries, fatigue or even possibly forgetting a passport when playing in Canada; things happen when the season is so long.
After beating the 76ers (23-42) 112-100, the Clippers (40-26) have won four out of their last five games, in a large part because of a selfless bench.
“They don’t get in the way of each other,” Doc Rivers said. “Whoever gets going, they feed him, if no one gets going, they try to find one of them.”
The Clippers entered today’s fourth quarter with three wins and 19 losses when down after three quarters. Against Philadelphia, down four, 79-75, to start the fourth, the bench unit constructed a 10-0 run in the first three a half minutes of the quarter, and the Clippers never looked back, leading the rest of the game.
This bench explosion was unlike the past couple of games, where against the Celtics Jamal Crawford scored 17 second half points, or against the Grizzlies when Austin Rivers led the team with 20 points. Tonight, the Clippers used a group effort to beat the pesky 76ers, with Speights leading the group with 11 points.
“Tonight, really none of them had it going offensively, it was really strange, but they figured a way of making action and scoring,” Rivers said.
Once the Clippers’ bench created the lead, Chris Paul secured it, scoring a season-high 30 points, with 20 coming in the second half.
“He was the difference,” Brett Brown said. “He’s that competitive and he’s that physical that he wills his impact on a game in so many ways.”
“CP showed his veteran leadership and pretty much took over the game,” said T.J. McConnell, who bested the 76ers with 10 assists and also scored nine points.
DeAndre Jordan grabbed 20 rebounds, his eighth time doing so on the season, also contributing 19 points and adding four assists, including one stunning outlet pass to Blake Griffin in the second quarter, leading to a highlight dunk.
The 76ers have now lost four in a row, and after years of facing negative criticism from the league, the reputation is changing around the franchise.
"If you show up and expect to beat them like you did three years ago, you are going to get beat," Blake Griffin said, who registered 15 points, 10 rebounds, six assists.
Off the bench, Richaun Holmes led Philadelphia with 24 points and nine rebounds, while Dario Saric and Jahlil Okafor scored 16 and 14 points.
The Clippers next face the Jazz, a team they sit one game behind for the fourth seed. The Clippers have beaten the Jazz twice this year, holding Utah to 72 points total each game. Following Monday’s game, the Clippers and Jazz play one more time, March 25. The fourth and fifth seed play each other in the playoffs, but the difference between the two means home court advantage.
“You really want to win that game, you win that game you win the season series already,” Doc Rivers said.
Tip-off is 6 p.m. PST.