The Clippers played with impressive energy and precision to dissect the visiting Pelicans, 111-90.
For the Pelicans, the pain of the loss will be mollified with the news that Anthony Davis escaped serious injury. New Orleans' young star awkwardly bumped his knee while defending a Chris Paul fast break -- a play for which Paul is already being blamed -- and had to be carried off the court. Davis' inability to put any weight on his right knee prodded one teammate and one coach into technical fouls and raised unspoken twitter suspicions of the most dreaded of injuries.
Given that Davis should return to action soon -- he was listed as questionable to return and actually spent the final minutes of the game on the bench, not in the locker room -- the story of this game can remain the Clippers' looking full of life, particularly the starting lineup. The starters feasted on the Pelicans and earned themselves some rarely seen rest in the fourth quarter.
Using sharp ball movement off pick and roll actions the Pelicans had no answer for, the Clippers ripped off 61 first half points en route to a 21-point lead, assisting on 19 of their first 25 field goals while turning the ball over just twice.
JJ Redick scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half and finished tied with Blake Griffin for the game high in scoring. Blake struggled with his jumper but still finished with 20 on 7-of-15 shooting, adding 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Pelicans made a brief run early in the third quarter, but any threat of a comeback was carried off the floor with Anthony Davis. Austin Rivers, who tallied a season-high 17 points, led a bench that looked wobbly at times but held serve all throughout the fourth and final quarter to preserve the 21-point win.
For New Orleans, Davis finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds in 28 minutes. Eric Gordon and reserve guard Ish Smith provided the most Pellie punch, scoring 16 and 15 respectively. Gordon looked particularly aggressive, a pleasant sight for Clipper fans sad to see how the former young star has struggled so mightily in recent years.
Signs of Clipper dominance can be found throughout the box score, from the four starters who finished better than +20 in plus/minus, to the roughly 12% advantage in both field goal and 3-point conversion rates. The Pelicans looked their record, allowing the Clippers frequent open looks and failing to capitalize on their own.
Any quibbles with the Clippers' performance should be minor. The Clippers were outrebounded again, this time by one measly rebound, meaning that the Clippers have yet to outrebound an opponent this season. The bench unit is not yet a cohesive one, but there were signs of major improvement in both their ball movement and defensive rotations.
It's easy to overlook an easy win over an overmatched opponent, but these are the kinds of routine wins quality teams must count on. Past Paul/Griffin Clipper teams rang them up automatically, and it's nice to see this year's edition finally do it too.
Jamal Crawford scored 9 points to crack the top-100 on the NBA's all-time scoring list... Prime Ticket sideline reporter Jeanne Zelasko reported that this was the third game this season in which Anthony Davis had to be carried off the floor... Tonight's game was the Clippers' 200th consecutive home sellout.