Five Takeaways: Clippers Put On Dazzling Offensive Show Against Streaking Wizards
LOS ANGELES - Two days removed from what Chris Paul called the worst loss of his career, the Clippers took out all of their anger on the third best team out East, the Washington Wizards. Whatever offensive struggles they suffered to close out the Kings game on Sunday were nonexistent tonight as L.A. matched a season-high 133 points en route to a 133-124 victory.
Chris Paul got off to a hot start, scoring 15 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting as the Clippers put up 39 points in the opening quarter to Washington’s 31. L.A. added another 35 points in the second quarter to secure a new season-high points in the first half with 74 on 59% shooting. Washington, however, held their own with 63 first half points led by John Wall’s 20 points.
Both teams stayed hot in the third quarter combining for 71 points (36 for L.A., 35 for Washington), but the fourth quarter proved to be a defensive battle as both sides fought hard for baskets as well as defensive stops. The Clippers’ 19 point lead was trimmed down to just five in the final period, but they got made all the extra plays down the stretch to lock in the home victory.
Four Clipper players scored at least 20 points led by J.J. Redick’s 31 points on 9-15 shooting. Chris Paul added 27 points and 13 assists. DeAndre Jordan also had a double-double with 23 points and 18 rebounds while Blake Griffin nearly had a triple-double with 26 points,10 rebounds, and nine assists.
Paul discussed the flow of the game tonight and his biggest takeaway.
“We just scored a lot to tell you the truth, but our defense has to be better,” said Chris Paul on the biggest takeaway from tonight’s game. “I think that is probably what I paid more attention to. But we scored. J.J. Redick had a big game, Blake and all of us had it going. But what I take from this is that our defense can still be better.”
Quote of the night:
After the game, head coach Doc Rivers expressed his satisfaction with the victory over an Eastern Conference contender, but noted that his Clippers have shown they can be even better on both ends.
“It’s nice to beat a good team and a good team that’s been playing very well,” said Rivers. “Honestly, we have proven that we can do that this year. I don’t think our team fears anything.
“We will take the win against a really good team, one of the better teams in the league, but we are still better than that and that’s what our team has to understand.”
Point Gods On Display
The highly-anticipated matchup between Chris Paul and John Wall very much lived up to its expectations as both guards put on an offensive show. Paul’s 27-point, 12-assist night on 60% shooting was marginally overshadowed by Wall’s 41-point, eight-assist night on 69.5% shooting. Paul got the upper hand on Wall, however, finishing with just a single turnover to his 12 assists while Wall gave the ball away six times on his own.
J.J. Redick Returns:
Sharpshooter J.J. Redick returned tonight and showed no ill-effects of the sprained ankle that kept him out of Sunday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. He scored a season-high 31 points against Washington and also tied a season-high with seven made three-pointers on the night. He outplayed his counterpart Bradley Beal, who finished with 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting.
Austin Rivers Exits:
While Redick made his return from a one-game absence, guard Austin Rivers exited the first half with a sore left hamstring following eight scoreless minutes and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. Coach Doc Rivers said the younger Rivers will travel with the team, but will not play tomorrow night against the Phoenix Suns.
“Austin is going [to travel], but he’s not playing,” said Rivers. “I don’t know [the severity], but the bottom line is it’s a strained hamstring. There’s one thing I can tell you: we’re going to be very careful with because you mess with that and it could be [worsened].
Good Defense, Better Offense
In every game that the Clippers scored over 123 points this season, they came out victorious. In every game they allowed more than 122, however, they came up short. Tonight’s game, where they gave up 124, was the first contest this season they came away victorious allowing that many points.
It was an offensive show all night as the Clippers made 47-of-83 from the field, 12-of-30 from beyond the three-point arc, and 27-of-27 from the free throw line. Coach Rivers said this game had a great offensive rhythm for both sides, and, at one point, praised his team’s defense in the first half despite allowing 63 points.
“You don’t ever want to give up 124 points, but you will when you score 133,” said Rivers with a smile. “The objective in every game is to win the game [in any way]. Tonight, you could see it. They were playing great offense, we were playing great offense. This is one of those nights where you just win the game and live with it.
“At halftime, I told our guys, ‘you had 20 great possessions defensively and they scored [anyways]. Get over it.’ I don’t say that very often. I told them, ‘you actually played great defense several times and they scored anyway. So what? Get on to the next play.’
The Focus Is On Themselves
Over the weekend, a lot was made of the big matchup against the Utah Jazz and a potential playoff series against them. Following tonight’s game, Doc Rivers made it clear he’s not worried about any of the upcoming opponents, instead increasing focus on his own team.
“We’re playing ourselves every night,” said Rivers. “I told our guys that before night. Right now, we’re playing us, we have to worry about us, we have to do our stuff. We have to work on whatever we need to work on, and if that’s good enough to win a game, then that’s good enough. I’m not even talking about other teams right now. This is more about us.”
The Clippers will travel to Phoenix tonight to take on the Suns on Thursday night. It will be their final back-to-back set of the season and their final game against Phoenix this season. L.A. has won all three games against them this year and will look for the season-sweep on the road.