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Clippers Top Pelicans 95-89, Finish Off Perfect Road Trip

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers went with the same unit as they had in the last few games, with Pierce starting at power forward, but they cross-matched and put Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on Anthony Davis, letting Pierce guard the less-threatening Alonzo Gee.  The visitors from Los Angeles started slow, going down 11-3 early before Wesley Johnson replaced Paul Pierce early in the first period.  Solid play from the Pelicans put them up 15-11 mid-way through the quarter, with Redick's perfect 3-for-3 mark from deep and 2-2 free throws providing all of LA's points.

No Clipper other than Redick would score until DeAndre Jordan's dunk at the 3:25 mark to pull the Clippers within 2, 15-17.  Wes Johnson's buzzer-beating three to make the score 25-20 ended what had been a dismal period for the Clippers, shooting 30.4% from the field and being burned by Pelicans big men Anthony Davis (8 points, 4-6 in the opening frame) and Ryan Anderson (4 points, 2-2 in the first quarter off the bench).

Unfortunately, the Pablo Prigioni-Cole Aldrich combination wasn't as potent for the Clippers' second unit early in quarter number 2, but just the presence of the pick-and-roll allowed for more freedom for Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, and Wesley Johnson.  When the starters returned, the Clippers went on a run (even with a few minutes of an unorthodox lineup featuring CP3, Redick, Wes Johnson, Paul Pierce, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute at center) and somehow pulled ahead at half 50-48 despite an underwhelming opening 24 minutes of play.  Redick led the team with 17 points on 6-9 shooting, and Chris Paul shot a poor 1-10 from the field.

Where the first half's story was that the Clippers played a step slow and somehow came away with a lead, the tables turned in the 3rd: the Clippers were sharper and better than the Pelicans all quarter, yet somehow only built an 8-point lead heading into the final period.  The second unit showed sparks at the start of the fourth quarter, but ultimately succumbed to a 13-2 Pelicans run, allowing the game to be tied at 78 when Doc Rivers restored his starting unit.

The next few minutes were predictably tense and close, with both teams struggling to get much going offensively and DeAndre Jordan playing spurts of inspired defense against Anthony Davis.  Ultimately, the Pelicans led 87-86 with 1:48 to play, when a big bucket on a pull-up from Jamal Crawford put the Clippers back into the lead by a single tally.  DeAndre Jordan came up huge on the subsequent defensive possession, deflecting and gathering a would-be lob to Davis.  Chris Paul connected on a classic CP3 pull-up jumper that put him at just 3-18 from the field on the night, and the Pelicans took a timeout down 3 with exactly 60 seconds remaining.

Jrue Holiday and Jamal Crawford traded jumpers, and the Clippers led by 3 in the waning possessions when DeAndre came up huge defensively again, blocking Davis.  On the next defensive play, Austin Rivers pressured Jrue Holiday into a turnover, and the few remaining seconds were a mere formality.

The Clippers came out on top, 95-89, and it was their defense down the stretch that won the game.  This became the Clippers' first 5-0 road trip in team history.

Enjoy your New Year's Clips Nation!