Cavs Hand Clippers Worst Loss Of Year
CLE 114 - LAC 90
LOS ANGELES – The entertaining city of Los Angeles didn’t do what Clippers head coach Doc Rivers joked he hoped it would prior to Sunday afternoon’s game.
Next Game: 3/15
Tipoff: 5:30pm PDT
The Cavaliers (47-18) had Friday and Saturday off in the city before their early matchup against the Clippers (42-23), but they appeared completely well-rested knocking down 3-pointer after 3-pointer while handing the Clippers their largest margin of defeat this season, 114-90.
The defensive-minded Luc Mbah a Moute returned to the lineup for the Clippers after a five-game absence with a left eye laceration, but it didn’t matter the way the Cavs continually knocked down long-range shots, finishing with 18 3-pointers on the night.
Chris Paul and J.J. Redick each had their moments trying to get the Clippers back into the game after going behind late in the first quarter, combining to go 12-for-22 with 36 points, but the Cavs’ 3-point prowess wouldn’t allow any hope for a comeback.
That was especially evident coming out of halftime.
The Cavs took a 17-point lead before the half ended for their biggest advantage of the game up until that point, then built on their lead by knocking down eight 3-pointers in the third quarter alone.
Cleveland went on a 30-6 run from late in the first quarter to early in the second, then closed the second quarter on a 15-3 run and the third on a 17-6 run.
The Clippers countered the Knicks’ size in their last game by hitting from long distance, but with the Cavs’ ability to knock down shots behind the arc Sunday on top of their already obvious size advantage, the Clippers’ early first quarter lead disappeared and would never return.
By the end of three quarters, the Clippers found themselves trailing by 23 points, and the deficit went to as many as 26 in the fourth. The Cavs outrebounded the Clippers by 15 and shot 48.8 percent from the floor.
Key Moment: This goes all the way back to the beginning, when the Clippers scored just two points in the final five minutes of the first quarter. That turned a 17-7 lead into a 21-19 Cavs advantage, which eventually became a 37-23 advantage after a 30-6 run.
Clippers Star: Chris Paul – Paul recorded his third straight double-double, scoring 17 points and dishing out a game-high 10 assists. He was 3-for-6 from 3-point range on a night the rest of the Clippers struggled from deep, shooting 31.3 percent from long range as a team.
Cavaliers Star:LeBron James – James came into the game shooting a career-low 28.5 percent from 3-point range this season, but that didn’t matter Sunday. James went 3-for-4 from deep, and when he wasn’t hitting 3-pointers he was finishing three-point plays inside, scoring 27 points and going 6-for-7 from the line.
X-Factor: J.R. Smith – Even with defenders draped all over him, Smith still found ways to get off his shots from deep, and there were moments he couldn’t miss. Smith finished 5-for-8 from 3-point range and at one point had 11 straight points for the Cavs in the third quarter, keeping their lead comfortably at double digits.
Quotes of the Night:
Doc Rivers – “They kick our butt right now. They’ve beaten us, and in my opinion, I don’t think any game’s been close the four times we’ve played them (the last two seasons). Clearly, I have to do something different…They’re way too comfortable against us. They’re looking at us right now, like, ‘Please make it to the Finals.’”
Chris Paul – “Give them a lot of credit, they moved the ball well, they defended, they stopped us, they got out in transition all night. We let them get too comfortable.”
J.J. Redick – “They have good players. Kyrie (Irving) got it going there, he hit tough shots, J.R. hit two back-to-back step-back shots over me in the third quarter where I literally, as he’s shooting it, I’m nicking the ball as he’s going into the shot. They have good players who make shots.”
NOTES: Redick said he wishes he knew why the Clippers have struggled this year at home (22-12), where they have a nearly identical record as they do on the road (20-11). “I wish I knew what it was,” Redick said. “It’s very frustrating.” … Chris Paul said these types of games are especially tough being without Blake Griffin, who can be a bailout option late in the clock and can open up opportunities for others with his ability to pick-and-pop … Mbah a Moute played 22 minutes in his return, but Rivers thought he looked exhausted after missing five games and then having to guard LeBron James … The Clippers, who haven’t lost back-to-back games since December, will start a five-game road trip Tuesday in San Antonio …