Clippers Lock Down Suns in Win
LOS ANGELES — The Clippers (12-18) played their best defensive first half of the season, propelling a 13-point win over the Suns(11-22).
Here are five takeaways from the Clippers 108-95 win.
Quote of the game: “This is the best defense we’ve played all season, back to the beginning of the [season] form.” - Austin Rivers
1) Clippers strong defense ignites victory -
Over the course of the last 10 days, the Clippers played the best defense in the NBA. During the five-game stretch, they allowed a stingy 96.2 points per 100 possessions, and tonight against the Suns, the defense was even sharper. The Clippers defense was active, protecting the rim and coercing the Suns into shooting long jump shots. For the game, the Suns shot 36%, and only made 8 of 35 threes, mustering only 95 points total.
The Clippers first half defense was the best it had all season, limiting the Suns to 35. Without leading scorer Devin Booker, the Suns struggled to find any rhythm. TJ Warren led the team in scoring with 22 points.
2) Teodosic finding his groove —
Four minutes into the first quarter, Milos Teodosic fake spun, hesitated, then zipped a no look pass to C.J. Williams cutting on the baseline leading to an open layup. A few minutes later, Teodosic dazzled the crowd, again, with a half-court alley oop to a soaring DeAndre Jordan. It’s his fifth game since returning from the plantar fascia injury to his left foot, and Teodosic looks to be returning to form, throwing numerous highlight worthy passes throughout the game
In 27 minutes, Teodosic scored 6 points, and dished a career high 8 assists. Although he’s struggling to find his shot since returning from injury, Teodosic’s passing creates a new dynamic missing from the Clippers offense this season.
3) Jordan becomes NBA’s top rebounder —
Ending the game with 20 rebounds, Jordan now sits atop the league rankings with 15.0 per game, passing Andre Drummond. He also leads the league with six 20+ rebound games.
In the past 11 games, the All-NBA center has grabbed seemingly every missed shot, with his lowest outing a 14-rebound performance against the Spurs. And when the Suns made a run late, it was Jordan’s offense that sealed the win, scoring 6 points during the crucial stretch, including a 2-for-2 trip to the free throw line when he was intentionally fouled. Jordan ended with 12 points and 20 rebounds.
4) Rivers catalyzes offense to begin game -
For nearly three minutes to open the game, neither the Clippers nor the Suns scored, but then it was Austin Rivers who ripped off 10 of the Clippers’ next 16 points. By the time he exited the game for his first substitution, he nearly outscored the Suns by himself, whom only had 11 points at the time out.
By the final buzzer, Rivers led the team in scoring, finishing with 21 points, sinking three three-pointers. Backup mate Lou Williams put up 18 points, and C.J. Williams had 12 points, a new career-high.
5) Backup big men spur bench -
With Blake Griffin out for a while, Jamil Wilson, Montrezl Harrell, Willie Reed and Sam Dekker collectively attempt to fill the power forward void, and the quad was great tonight. As a group, they shot 16-of-26, scoring 36 points, all performing in different ways, energizing the team. Wilson earned the start tonight, and stretched out the defense with his three point shot, making three. Harrell and Reed roam the paint, both flying high for dunks tonight that caused the bench to stand up. Dekker’s finding his role as a cutting savant, searching and attacking the gaps in the defense.
What’s Next? The Clippers travel to Houston to play the Rockets Friday at 5:00 PST.