Five Takeaways: Clippers Hold Off Hornets To Win Second Straight
CHARLOTTE – The Clippers (33-21) now find themselves on their first winning streak of the month, following up a come from behind win in New York by holding off the Hornets (24-30) in Charlotte.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 107-102 win Saturday afternoon.
Quote of the Night: “The bench, they all had pluses. I thought in the second quarter they were phenomenal and in the third quarter, the beginning of the fourth, they came in and gave us another stretch.” – Head coach Doc Rivers
1) Reserve power – The Clippers’ backups came to the rescue in the first half, particularly Marreese Speights, who scored eight points in five minutes in the first quarter after DeAndre Jordan sat with foul trouble.
By halftime, the Clippers’ bench combined to go 10-for-18 with 27 of the Clippers’ 53 points, helping the Clippers take a two-point lead to the half and assisting the Clippers in overcoming an early 11-point first quarter deficit. Overall, the Clippers’ reserves finished 16-for-31, led by Jamal Crawford’s 22 points.
2) Griffin nearly grabs another triple-double – Coming off a team season high of 32 points, Blake Griffin put Miles Plumlee on a poster in what was likely his best dunk of the year on his way to nearly gathering his second triple-double of the road trip.
Griffin and Speights helped spark a first quarter run that allowed the Clippers to overcome an early 11-point deficit, and by the end of the first quarter Griffin already had 11 points, four assists and three rebounds. After three quarters, Griffin was already just two assists short of a triple-double, and while he didn’t finish with his sixth career triple-double, he did finish with 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as he continues to roll through February.
3) Crawford leads strong long-range performance – “No more thinking, just hooping,” Jamal Crawford said Saturday night after putting together his fourth performance with at least 20 points in his last five games. The Clippers started the night 0-for-8 behind the arc, but went 14-for-26 the rest of the night from 3-point range, led by Jamal Crawford and his 5-for-8 mark from long distance.
Most of those 3-point attempts came from far beyond the arc, with Crawford bailing out the Clippers late in shot clocks. Austin Rivers also had a strong night from deep, going 4-for-6 from 3-point range, including a step-back 3-pointer on Kemba Walker to help the Clippers seal the win late.
4) Clippers stay defensive through foul trouble – Doc Rivers said recently that the Clippers need to do a better job of still defending even when one of their better defenders gets in foul trouble. In the first half, DeAndre Jordan was limited to just nine minutes as he dealt with three fouls, but the Clippers heeded Rivers’ advice.
While they still ended up allowing at least 100 points for the 11th straight game after Kemba Walker hit a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left, it was a much improved effort defensively, holding the Hornets to 43 percent shooting for the night. The Clippers especially got a boost in the second quarter from a backup unit of Speights, Crawford, Raymond Felton, Wesley Johnson and Alan Anderson, with Speights finishing the game a team-best plus-14. “If I had to pick one guy, I thought Alan was amazing,” Rivers said.
5) Stopping an All-Star – Austin Rivers, Felton and the Clippers’ guards helped hold Walker, Charlotte’s All-Star guard, to a 4-for-18 night from the floor. Despite the Hornets’ losing record, the Clippers paid Charlotte plenty of respect after the game for Charlotte’s talent and ability to shoot, as evidenced by Nicolas Batum’s 25 points, Frank Kaminsky’s 20 points and Marco Belinelli’s 17 points.
But the Clippers still managed to close the Hornets out largely by limiting Walker’s effect on the outcome. Walker’s 10 points were his second fewest in any game he’s played in this year. “I thought we limited guys somewhat well, especially Kemba,” Griffin said. “He’s kind of the head of the snake for them.”
What’s Next? – The Clippers finish their five-game trip Monday at Utah.