Five Takeaways: Second Half Falls Apart As Clippers Fall To 76ers
PHILADELPHIA – With head coach Doc Rivers out sick, assistant coach Mike Woodson appeared in line to earn the victory as Austin Rivers weaved his way through the lane for a layup to put the Clippers (30-17) ahead by 19 points early in the third quarter against the 76ers (16-27). Then, it all went downhill abruptly.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 121-110 loss.
1) Griffin back – Blake Griffin returned from an 18-game absence following right knee surgery and started, though Woodson said Griffin was on a minutes restriction. He still played 29 minutes and made an impact early with three assists and three rebounds in the first five minutes, but he had to shake off some of the rust after sitting out for more than a month. Griffin went 3-for-11 with 12 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, but also committed six turnovers. Griffin said afterward he had workouts that were twice as hard as what he went through in his return, so he was ready physically. “Felt all right other than turnovers and missing some easy ones, especially free throws,” Griffin said.
2) Defense falls off – The Clippers were coming off one of their better defensive displays of the month, holding the Hawks to 42 percent shooting. But even in that win, the Clippers had a forgettable third quarter, allowing 35 points to Atlanta. A night later, the same early second half problems endured, and they continued the rest of the way. They allowed 30 points all in the final 10 minutes of the third quarter, watching a 19-point lead disappear. By the end of three, it was tied at 89, and it only got worse, as the 76ers scored 62 points in the second half, shooting 50 percent on the night.
“It’s not being on a string, it’s not being connected, not being in the right coverage, not being pulled over on the weak side,” said DeAndre Jordan. “When we’re playing the right way, we’re all connected on a string, all five on offense and defense. When we’re not, if one person is off, two people are off, then it throws our whole chemistry off.”
3) Paint problem – Despite playing without both Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, the 76ers still did most of their damage inside. Their guards spent most of the day in the paint, where midway through the quarter, the Sixers already had 42 more points in the paint than the Clippers. As Philadelphia traversed the key with ease, the Clippers combatted what the Sixers did inside by hitting 18 3-pointers, but they only made 15 shots inside the arc and scored just 42 second-half points.
4) Turnover troubles– A lot of players after the game said they stopped playing like a team in the second half and that it became more of an individual game. That showed mostly in the turnover category, as the Clippers finished with 19 as a team while only forcing five on the Sixers. Philadelphia turned those 19 turnovers into 36 points, while the Clippers turned the Sixers’ six turnovers into eight points the other way.
That 28-point margin was largely the difference, and it was just the second time this month the Clippers only forced six turnovers in a game. “We did everything possible wrong that you could possibly do in that second half,” Austin Rivers said.
5) Backcourt stays on track offensively – Coming off a 19-point performance, Jamal Crawford gave further reason to believe he’s out of his offensive funk. Crawford went 9-for-14 from the floor with 27 points, while Austin Rivers recorded his fifth game this month with at least 20 points and J.J. Redick added 22 points. The trio combined to go 15-for-26 from behind the arc.
What’s Next? – The Clippers get three days off before playing Saturday at Golden State.