Five Takeaways: Clippers beat Kings, sit a half game out of the playoffs

SACRAMENTO — The Clippers (20-21) sweep their first back-to-back of the season, beating the Kings (13-28), 121-115.

Here are five quick takeaways on the Clippers win.

1) Williams in a zone —

Twenty seconds into the game, Lou Williams let a three-pointer fly from the right wing. The ball touched nothing but net. Two possessions later, Williams, again, didn’t touch the rim, draining his second three in the first 1:12 of the game. The Clippers started the contest with an 8-0 run, carried by Williams, fresh off his 50-point scorching of the Warriors last night.

To end the first half, Williams converted a four-point play, pushing his first half tally to 21 points with four three-pointers.

With the Clippers up one with about a minute left, they turned to Lou for a basket, who scored on a tough fallaway jump shot going to his right. Williams finished with 30 points, and for the first time in his 13-year career, the guard has scored 30+ points in three straight games.

2) Jordan has dunk of the year and gets injured; Harrell stars in void —

Off an offensive rebound, Lou Williams tossed a lob to DeAndre Jordan, who climbed over Skal Labissiere and George Hill for the violent one-handed slam, sending Labissiere careening to the baseline. As Jordan landed, he rolled his left ankle, immediately grabbing the injury and descending to the floor.

Since drafting Jordan, the Clippers virtually do not know what playing basketball is like without their All-NBA center. Over the past six seasons, he’s missed only six games. After Jordan walked back to the locker room, the Kings pushed a 17-8 run to close the Clippers lead to three.

Montrezl Harrell, Jordan’s primary backup, racked up 16 points in 11 minutes during the first half, finishing dunk after dunk in traffic. Then in the second half, his extreme productivity continued, finishing the game with a season-high 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting.

When it was ruled Jordan would not return, Willie Reed started the second half. The third year pro tallied 4 points on the night.

3) Kings keep it close —

Whenever the Clippers seemed to push the game out of range for the Kings, Sacramento responded with a run to bring the game closer. The Kings made a run in the second quarter closing a 14-point Clippers lead to three. In the third quarter, the Kings were down 78-62 before a 21-7 stretch to cut the lead to two points. In the fourth quarter, the Kings deficit was 14 points, but they then went on a 17-2 run to take their first lead of the game with only minutes remaining.

Bogdan Bogdanovic bested the Kings in scoring with 22 points, including four three-pointers. Hill reached 21 points, going to the line 13 times and making 10. Kosta Koufos recorded a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double.

4) Griffin and Teodosic return —

For the seventh game this season, the Clippers had both Blake Griffin and Milos Teodosic in the lineup. Back from a concussion came Griffin. Returning from sore plantar fasciitis was Teodosic. Their impact on the game was quick and swift. Teodosic first made his mark on the game with a lob to DeAndre Jordan on the second possession of the game. Griffin scored 9 points in the first quarter, where the Clippers lead by 8.

Late in the game, both Teodosic and Griffin made big plays that proved crucial in the win. Teodosic threw a quick outlet pass to Harrell for a dunk, catching the entire Kings defense off-guard, giving the Clippers a one point lead. After the Kings responded with a bucket, Griffin hit a three to take the lead back.

Griffin ended the night with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists. Teodosic produced 10 points and 9 assists. When the two players have been healthy simultaneously, the Clippers are 7-1, including the victory tonight.

5) Coaching staff and players working magic —

Tonight, the Clippers debuted their 20th different starting lineup of the season with Tyrone Wallace earning his first career start. No other team has used more combinations of starters this season, with the Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic deploying the second and third most units at 17 and 16, respectively. Still, the Clippers sit only a half game out of the playoffs, tied with the New Orleans Pelicans in the win column, but have one more loss as a team. Head Coach Doc Rivers and his coaching staff have worked past every injury, placing the Clippers in a space to win every night, no matter who is on the court. Tonight as a team, the Clippers shot 51 percent overall, including 42 percent from deep with 13 made threes. They also dished out 28 assists. The Clippers are 9-3 in their last 12 games, second best in the league over the stretch behind only Miami.

In the final seconds of the game, Wallace validated the start with a steal leading to a dunk securing the victory for the Clippers. Wallace finished with 8 points and 2 assists.

What’s Next? — The Clippers fly back to L.A. to rematch the Kings on Saturday at 12:30 PST.

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