Five Takeaways: Winning Streak Stretches To Three In Sacramento
SACRAMENTO – The new year continues to treat the Clippers (25-14) well, as they followed a six-game losing streak to end 2016 with their third straight win to start 2017, finishing off the Kings (15-21) in a tight finish Friday night.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 106-98 win
1) Chris Paul’s back – Paul missed seven of the Clippers’ last eight games entering Friday night, and head coach Doc Rivers wasn’t going to have him return until he felt 100 percent again. After a hard workout Wednesday, Paul didn’t feel any lingering pain Thursday, and he was cleared to go Friday.
Paul took just five shots, but hit three of them on his way to 14 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and three steals in 31 minutes, passing Rod Strickland to move into the top 10 all-time in assists and passing Isiah Thomas to move into No. 15 all-time in steals in the process.
2) Austin Rivers still feeling it – On a night of the return of a superstar point guard, it was another Clippers guard making most of the noise offensively. Austin Rivers had started the Clippers’ previous six games and entered the night shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 44.9 percent from 3-point range in nine starts this year.
He also entered coming off a season-high 28-point night, and he kept it going Friday. Despite Paul’s return, the Clippers kept Rivers in the starting lineup, using a three-guard lineup along with Paul and Redick. Rivers took advantage, going 9-for-15 from the floor and 4-for-7 from 3-point range, finishing with a team-high 24 points.
3) Another standout middle quarter – Against Memphis in the Clippers’ last game, a double-digit halftime deficit got flipped around when the Clippers took control outscoring the Grizzlies by 14 points in the third quarter on the way to a win. Friday night, the turnaround started a quarter earlier. After falling behind by double digits in the first quarter, victims to a 2-for-11 start from the floor, the Clippers bounced back in a major way a quarter later, outscoring the Kings 34-12 in the second to take a 53-41 lead into halftime. The Grizzlies answered back with a 32-point third quarter, giving the Clippers a two-point lead heading to the fourth quarter of a back-and-forth game.
4) Kingslayer Redick – Something about the Golden 1 Center seems to sit well with J.J. Redick, who’s hurt the Kings from deep in each of his two matchups this season in the Kings’ new arena. Redick, who scored 26 points on 6-for-8 shooting from 3-point range the first time the Clippers played in Sacramento this season, followed that up by knocking down five 3-pointers Friday night on his way to a second straight 19-point night despite a drift he felt in the arena. “It’s surprising, though,” Redick said. “They keep the doors open during the first half while we’re shooting at that end. It was like 38 degrees at that end. Amazingly it warmed up in the second half when they were shooting down there.”
As a team, the Clippers got going from deep early in the fourth quarter to stretch the lead, with Austin Rivers, Marreese Speights and Jamal Crawford knocking down consecutive 3-pointers. The Clippers finished with 13 made 3-pointers as a team.
5) Comfortable in Sacramento – The Clippers’ victory, their second of the year on the road against the Kings, was their ninth straight in Sacramento. While it got dicey late Friday night, the Clippers managed to close out the win with a steal in a two-point game with less than a minute left. Paul hit the two ensuing free throws to give the Clippers some breathing room.
What’s Next? – The Clippers return home for a 12:30 p.m. Sunday matchup against the Heat.
NOTES: DeAndre Jordan’s two-game streak of 20-rebound games ended Friday, as he posted 20 points and nine rebounds … Jordan and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins were each whistled for a technical foul. Jordan’s tech, which occurred during a chippy game after putting down a dunk in the third quarter, came a game after Doc Rivers talked to his team about limiting technical fouls. “DJ’s going to give his technical money to my charity, so I appreciate it,” Rivers said as his press conference ended …