Five Takeaways: Clippers Win in Commanding Fashion Over Knicks
LOS ANGELES – For the second game in a row, the Los Angeles Clippers pounded an Eastern Conference opponent with enough force to give their starters a quarter off. On Monday, they victimized the New York Knicks, building up a 25-point lead in a third quarter marked by stops sparking fast-break magic en route to a 114-105 win at Staples Center.
Blake Griffin led six Clippers in double figures with 30 points in just 31 minutes. Chris Paul (13 points, 13 assists) and DeAndre Jordan (14 points, 10 rebounds) both logged double-doubles while helping L.A. hold New York under 45 percent shooting from the floor—the Clippers’ 31st win in 40 tries with that kind of defense this season.
Quote of the Night
Griffin did his part to strengthen the Clippers’ scrambling defense in a third quarter that saw the Knicks score just 19 points. In the midst of an 11-0 L.A. run, he flew in to block Knicks rookie Willy Hernangomez at the rim after Jordan had already been pulled away from the hoop.
“When we’re playing like that, it’s nice because DJ is always doing that for us,” Griffin said, “so once every 20 games, I try to help him on that end, too.”
1. Blake Breaks Porzingis Again
Back on February, the Clippers needed nearly every one of Griffin’s game-high 32 points to fend off the Knicks, 119-115. Griffin didn’t quite match that output against New York in L.A., but his team didn’t need him to. He finished with 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting (3-of-7 from the free-throw line) without so much as lifting a finger in the fourth quarter.
Griffin’s shot chart looked like an analytic dream. He took just two midrange shots and all but three of his field goals came outside the paint; those three were triples, matching Griffin’s career high for long-range makes.
And yet, just one of his inside finishes came on a lob: a picturesque pass from Luc Mbah a Moute that prompted a quick Knicks timeout just after halftime.
“When Blake is aggressive like that, it’s great for us,” Paul said. “Everybody is sharing the ball and we’re feeding off of his energy.”
2. Passing Perfection From CP
For Paul, three weeks is an eternity to go without a turnover-free game. That’s about how much time had passed since he put up 15 assists and no miscues in a three-point win over the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center.
Against the Knicks, CP tallied 13 points and 13 assists absent a giveaway, though he tempted fate more than once. In the first quarter, he threw two touchdown-style passes—one to Griffin, one to DeAndre Jordan—that both bigs retrieved but neither came close to converting into points. It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that Griffin hauled in one of Paul’s Hail Mary’s for a score.
That fearlessness and creativity ultimately served the Clippers well. By the time Paul came out of the game for good at the end of the third quarter, L.A. had nearly hit triple digits on the scoreboard.
Not surprisingly, Paul’s teams tend to dominate when he has such command over the ball. He’s 28-5 overall when he finishes with double-digit assists and no turnovers, 17-2 with those stats as a Clipper and 4-0 in 2016-17.
3. DJ’s Lob City Redux
DeAndre Jordan had been on pace for his fewest alley-oops since 2012-13, when he finished with 90 lobs that ended in either dunks or layups.
That is, until the Clippers got up and running against a Knicks squad that’s young and thin on the inside. By a certain writer’s unofficial tally, Jordan turned five alleys into oops on the night, four that finished with dunks. That brings his lob total for 2016-17 to 98. He’ll need another 35 over the Clippers’ last 11 games to match his career high, set in 2013-14 and equaled last season.
All told, L.A.’s All-Star center wound up with his 32nd double-double of the season (14 points, 10 rebounds), despite going 48 minutes without a trip to the free-throw line for the first time since March 4 in Chicago.
4. Spreading the Wealth
The Clippers went out of their way to move the ball against the Knicks—sometimes to their own detriment.
“I thought we passed up some really good shots,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s funny, from a coaching standpoint, sometimes you want them to shoot those, but I thought both units had a lot of patience.”
That approach paid off handsomely for L.A. The Clippers notched 25 assists on 43 baskets for an assist percentage of 58.1 percent. They’re now 27-12 this season when they log helpers on at least 58 percent of their makes and 19-4 when they tally 25 or more assists.
5. Clippers Starters Get Rest
For the second consecutive game, the Clippers’ starters spent the entire fourth quarter on the sideline. Against Cleveland’s B-Squad on Saturday, L.A.’s subs managed to stretch what had been an 18-point advantage after three to a 30-point margin by game’s end.
The Clippers’ starting five had to sweat it out a bit more on Monday. The Knicks’ reserves gave their L.A. counterparts a run for their money, slicing what had been a 25-point Clippers lead down to eight twice within the final two minutes.
Still, through the ups and downs, the missed shots and miscues, Doc Rivers didn’t budge.
“Win it or lose it,” Rivers said of leaving his second unit out there. “That was my attitude.”
That stance could help the Clippers’ starting five survive what figures to be an uptempo affair against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Tuesday.