Up 100-97 with 2:39 left in the fourth quarter, DeAndre Jordan stepped to the free throw line. A situation that has been all too familiar to Los Angeles Clippers fans. Instead of wilting in the moment due to the pressure of a Sacramento Kings devastating second half run, Jordan quietly sunk the free throws helping guarantee a second consecutive victory from Los Angeles.
“Doc is definitely a good motivator. He told me before he doesn’t care if I shoot it over the backboard as long as I try to make one out of two and then come down and help us get a stop.” said Jordan on Doc’s encouragement of him at the free-throw line. “When somebody tells you that, the pressure of going to the free-throw line goes away. You’re not really putting that much pressure on yourself, you’re just out there playing and it makes it a lot better.”
This moment represented the theme of the night for the Clippers: resilience. When you punch the Clippers team in the mouth they get all out of sorts. We saw it opening night against the Los Angeles Lakers and up until the free throws by DeAndre Jordan. Shying away from the moment wasn’t an option and they showed a growth that hadn’t been seen in the past seasons.
In the first half of tonight’s game, things went as you would expect a Clippers-Kings game to go considering the talent imbalance between the two clubs. But in the second half, this Kings team scrapped as hard as they could before they fell short of a victory.
Once again the Clippers were led by Chris Paul who contributed 26 points and 10 assists. As of today, Paul has contributed to two of the three 20 point-10 assist games that have occurred this season. The other player was Lebron James. Of those 26 points, nine of them came in the fourth quarter when the team needed him most. While the Kings made their run, the Clippers became visibly flustered. The offense struggled and they couldn’t get stops when needed (sounds familiar doesn’t it?), but Paul kept the team pushing until the final puzzler.
Outside of Paul, the team balanced out their scoring efforts well for the second game in a row. While Blake Griffin‘s 20 points and 17 rebounds stand out the most, JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley and Matt Barnes combined for 51 points, up three points from the 48 combined against the Golden State Warriors.
“It was a track meet. It was physical too so it had a little bit of everything. I’m really proud of our guys. You know every time we got a lead in the first half they fought back and cut it to one or two. They did it again. I think they actually took the lead once in the fourth quarter.”
That fourth quarter led, though short-lived, came at the hands of Isaiah Thomas-Demarcus Cousins as they were the driving force behind a 56 point half. Thomas finished the game with 29 points, 17 coming in latter half of the game. Cousins was his usual self, showing his potential by posting 24 points and 10 rebounds, his second straight double-double. Marcus Thornton scored 17 points on 12 shots also. During a three minute stretch in the fourth quarter, Thomas contributed 9 points, one rebound and an assist to Jason Thompson to give the Kings the 92-90 lead Rivers spoke of.
From that point on the Clippers outscored the Kings 20-9 to finish out the game, with 6 of the 20 points coming from Jordan and Griffin going 6-6 from the free-throw line. Prior to tonight’s game Griffin and Jordan were shooting 44.4 percent and 28.6 percent from the line.
While it sounds like a dead horse is being beaten to a pulp here, the Clippers reserve big men, once again, gave a horrible showing. With DeAndre Jordan getting himself into foul trouble in the middle of the third quarter, and Ryan Hollins doing the same shortly after, Doc Rivers had to depend on Byron Mullens to man the paint as the Kings stayed big. You can guess how that turned out.
Despite being 2-1, Clippers guard Chris Paul knows the team needs work, but with time the improvement will be front and center.
“The past couple of games we’ve played our defense and everybody in here knows what that means and I think it’s working. We’ve still got a ways to go but we’re building.”
*All quotes via Clippers.com
Highlight of the Night
Tweets of the Night:
It’s insane how anytime @Matt_Barnes22 has a hard foul it’s automatically assumed a flagrant!!! Besides that, great team win for us…
— DeAndre Jordan (@deandrejordan) November 2, 2013
Cousins on if Clippers were baiting calls: “Absolutely, like I said, you know who the head of that snake is and you know what he does.”
— Blake Ellington (@BlakeEllington) November 2, 2013
It’s games like tonight that you gotta find a way to win.., back 2 back, on the road, facing adversity, great win.. Back to the crib!
— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) November 2, 2013
Monday, November 4th, 7:30 PM PST (10:30 ET) on NBA TV
Houston Rockets (2-0) at Los Angeles Clippers (2-1)