Down 45-67, the LA Clippers looked like they were settled in for another defeat in Sacramento last night. Los Angeles was down 18 points and rallied together for a fantastic 29-10 third quarter. The game ultimately came down to a nail-biting 2 point finish. The Clippers were led by Blake Griffin, who posted: a season high 33 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 13/25 shooting, and a game winner.
Buddy Hield posted a career high of 27 points (7/9 threes), including a heroic 16 point fourth quarter. The two keys to the Clippers’ success came down to their ball movement and great defense.
Despite the fact that the Clippers couldn’t buy a three pointer (9/28), they did a great job of moving the ball to end up with high percentage shots; Los Angeles ended the night with 47.5% shooting, and 23 assists. In the Clippers’ 7 wins they average 22.71 APG (including an outlier win of 11 assists against Portland). However, in their 11 losses the Clippers average 18.7 APG (including an outlier loss 29 assists against Cleveland). The ball movement led to a high percentage shot, which led to good defense.
By the start of the 3rd quarter, the Clippers looked like they were going to have another defensive flop of a game; the team was down 47-65. Within 6 minutes the Clippers went on a 17-0 run, and also forced 8 Sacramento turnovers in the 3rd quarter. The stingy Clipper defense from the beginning of the season returned, as Los Angeles held Sacramento to 10 points in the 3rd quarter. Buddy Hield made some heroic shots down the stretch, but was forced into an incredibly difficult missed game-winning shot.
The Final Clip: The Clippers are finally showing shades of how to adjust with their inured lineup. Austin Rivers and Lou Williams are learning how to distribute the ball, and the team is finally playing engaged defense again.