On Saturday night the Los Angeles Clippers (40-20) took on the injury devastated (23-25) New Orleans Pelicans for a test in consistency. Winners of three straight, including tough victories against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, New Orleans would be considered an easy game for the Pacific Division leading Clippers. However coach Doc Rivers’ team couldn’t be more focused.
In their second matchup in a week, the Clippers would enter the contest without guards J.J. Redick (out indefinitely), Jamal Crawford (day-to-day) and newly acquired small-forward Danny Granger who was ruled ineligible by referee Bill Spooner due to a Clippers staff miscommunication. Granger was forced to watch the game from the Clippers bench in street clothes, and will most likely see his first minutes in uniform on Tuesday versus the Phoenix Suns. Forward Blake Griffin commented on the Clippers acquisition of Granger with, “He’s a weapon… Somebody that can defend… Hopefully he can really hit his stride coming into the playoffs”.
Although three men short, the Clippers prevailed shooting 47 percent from the field, compared to the Pelicans 33 percent. The Clippers also scored 25 fast break points, versus the Pelicans 2, who had trouble keeping their All-Star forward Anthony Davis on the floor due to foul trouble. Davis finished the game with eight points in only 20 minutes.
The Clippers opened a 27-11 lead which eventually stretched to 43-24 off contributions from Darren Collison who finished the game with 15 points, and Matt Barnes who shot 4-8 from downtown, tallying 14 points on the night. Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans was 9-for-19 in shooting and former Clippers guard Eric Gordon shot an abysmal 1-13. In the first quarter alone, the Pelicans committed nine fouls, turned the ball over four times and missed 19 of their first 21 shots. Poor play which would set the tone for the remainder of the evening, upon which the Clippers would take advantage and dominate the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.
Chris Paul led the Clippers in scoring for the first time since December 28th against the Utah Jazz, ending the night with 21 points and eight assists. Blake Griffin finished with 20 points and 5 rebounds, commenting on the Clippers strong play as of recent with, “I think our chemistry is at a really great place right now… And we don’t even have J.J. and Jamal right now”. Both Paul and Griffin sat out the entire fourth quarter as the Clippers cruised to a 108-76 victory, marking the fourth game of the season where the Clippers winning margin was 30 or more points.
Up next for the Clippers is a road game against the Phoenix Suns who have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games but have compiled a home record of 20 wins and 11 losses.