Five Takeaways: Clippers Beat Pelicans, 114-96, To End Trip On High Note
NEW ORLEANS – The Clippers (16-5) salvaged their six-game road trip, responding from a three-game losing skid by cruising to wins Thursday in Cleveland and Friday in New Orleans to finish the trip 3-3.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 114-96 win against the Pelicans (7-13).
1) Clippers find energy to answer – “Don’t let go of the rope.” It’s a phrase head coach Doc Rivers likes to use when his team faces an adverse situation, and the Clippers faced it Friday night entering the Smoothie King Center with little down time. The Clippers could’ve easily quit when they found themselves down by nine points early, playing on a back-to-back in their final game of a six-game road trip after arriving at their New Orleans hotel at 2:35 a.m. the night before the game. No one’s played more games since their home opener than the Clippers. But they didn’t let go of the rope.
Instead, after a 17-4 Pelicans run in the first quarter, the Clippers responded in the second quarter with a 17-4 run of their own, exploding for 35 points in the quarter to grab the lead back before halftime. The Clippers then extended that lead by holding the Pelicans to 19 points in the third. Leading by 15 points, DeAndre Jordan flexed in excitement and the bench erupted as the Clippers trapped the Pelicans and forced them into a 24-second violation. Blake Griffin said going into the night they can’t use their schedule as an excuse as they try to even up the road trip, and for a team playing as often as it has, the Clippers managed to find a way to muster energy when it needed it most.
2) Griffin gets going – Starting the night 3-for-9 in the first quarter, it seemed like it might not be Blake Griffin’s night early on. But by halftime, he was 7-for-14, and by the end of the third quarter Griffin was up to 27 points on 12-for-22 shooting, at one point going through a 9-for-10 stretch from the field. He displayed his distributing abilities with a season-high 11 assists against Cleveland, then demonstrated his proficiency as a scorer in New Orleans, finishing with 27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
3) Luc lights it up – After showing what he could do defensively in Cleveland with five steals and tremendous defense on LeBron James, Mbah a Moute showed what he could do at the other end with one of his best offensive games of the year Friday night. Mbah a Moute hit a game-high three 3-pointers and finished 5-for-9 from the floor, tying a season high with 15 points to go with two steals and five rebounds.
4) Redick rests – J.J. Redick got the night off to rest, as Doc Rivers made it a surprise and didn’t divulge which player would take Redick’s place in the starting lineup at shooting guard. It turned out to be Raymond Felton, who contributed twelve points, two rebounds and three assists. The rest of the Clippers’ backcourt picked up the slack with Redick out, as Chris Paul returned to New Orleans with 17 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds and Jamal Crawford finished with a season-high in points, hitting a few off-balance shots most players wouldn’t even try.
5) Crawford sets season high – Crawford finished the night with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting, leading the scoring off the bench. It marked his seventh straight game scoring in double figures, but his first 20-point game of the year, passing Vince Carter for No. 6 on the all-time made 3-pointers leaderboard on the way to the win. Crawford helped spark the Clippers and keep the lead at double digits in the third quarter, going 4-for-4 from the floor in the quarter.
What’s Next? – The six-game road trip is over as the Clippers return home for Sunday’s game against Indiana.