The Los Angeles Clippers took on the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on Sunday. They were not exactly gracious hosts, roasting the Bulls from behind the arc in what turned into a 120-93 blowout victory for the home team. This Clippers team thrives on the three-ball, and those shots were certainly falling. As a whole, the team attempted 32 three-point shots, and they made 17 of them (53.1%). was perfect from deep, making all four of his attempts. made 5 out of his 6 shots from downtown, and made 3 of 5 attempts. Most of these threes were wide open due to the team's stellar ball movement, and the Clippers had 26 assists compared to Chicago's 19. Also, the Clippers bench had another huge game. In the first half and at the beginning of the third quarter, the starters were essentially neck-and-neck with the Bulls' starters. Los Angeles's bench finished the game with 48 points compared to the 18 scored by Chicago's bench. The reserves were led by Jamal Crawford, who took over this game in the second half. Crawford would finish the game with 26 points (11 of 15 from the field, 2 of 3 from behind the arc). He ended the third quarter with a buzzer beater, and he ignited the fourth quarter with two crucial, back-to-back, old-fashioned three-point plays to help stretch the Clippers lead. Crawford was sensational. It was a very impressive win for Los Angeles, and the Clippers have now won four games in a row.
DeAndre Jordan was another reason for the lopsided final score. He was a terror on the glass this game, finishing with 20 rebounds (five of them on the offensive end). He set the tone early on by grabbing 12 boards in the first quarter alone. The Bulls tried to hack him in the third quarter, but he made 3 out of 4 intentional free throws, and the Bulls abandoned the strategy. On the whole, he was 5 of 8 from the charity stripe. Jordan finished the game with an impressive 17 points (6 of 7 from the field), 4 assists, and 4 blocks. He also only had one turnover. He absolutely anchored the defense, and he had a couple of thunderous dunks. It also seemed as if the Clippers were making a conscious effort to post him up, and he delivered with this beauty:
Goddamn, DJ! Can I Haz Moar, Pleeze? https://t.co/YU4e7KfeoT— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) January 31, 2016
The fact that this game would become a blowout victory for Los Angeles was not evident early in the game. In fact, for most of the game, it appeared as if it could go down to the wire. The Clippers got off to an abysmal start in the first quarter, missing several open shots. A major reason for their struggles was the poor play of. Pierce could not defend Bulls forward at all, and he could not make a single basket. In fact, he would be scoreless for the whole game, missing all six of his shots in 16 minutes. subbed Johnson in for Pierce in the first quarter, and the Clippers immediately picked up their collective play. Johnson would score 8 points in the first frame, and his ability to knock down corner threes absolutely bent the Bulls defense. His quality performance was in stark relief to Pierce's nightmare one. Pierce was brought back into the game in the second quarter for , who played with great energy in limited minutes. The Clippers had scrapped their way to an eight point lead in that period, but Pierce's presence again seemed to cause the Clippers to lose control on both ends. He did not have anything going, and it is head-scratching why Pierce received 16 minutes of playing time while Stephenson received only 6 minutes (excluding garbage time). Pierce can certainly help when he makes shots, but it was obvious that he was hurting the team when he was on the court.
Despite their early struggles, the Clippers played better as the game went on, scoring more points in each successive quarter than the one before it (22, 27, 33, and 36). Aside from Pierce, the team was nearly flawless in the second half. The only low point was this silly missed layup by Redick, which is destined to appear on "Shaqtin' a Fool" this week:
The Bulls got solid performances from their starting lineup, but their bench was totally ineffective. The Bulls' inability to defend the three-point line this game made the situation worse.showed glimpses of the explosiveness that made him the MVP of the 2010-2011 season, slicing and dicing his way into the paint for some nifty layups. He finished the game with 20 points (10 of 17 from the field). All-Star Jimmy Butler scored a couple of baskets in the fourth quarter that hinted at a possible Bulls run that never materialized, but he was mostly forgettable. He only made 8 out of his 22 shots, finishing the game with 23 points, 0 assists, and 1 rebound. was also good, scoring 15 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and notching 5 assists. did fine in the starting lineup for a second consecutive game (10 points and 5 assists). In the first half, it looked very possible that the Bulls could win this game, but they ultimately faded away in the final 1.5 quarters.
Also, in case anyone was wondering,did not attend this game. During an in-game interview, Doc Rivers said that neither Griffin nor Assistant Equipment Manager Matias Testi will rejoin the team until after the league hands down their decision regarding Griffin's punishment.
The Clippers now have one more game at Staples Center before a four-game road trip on the East Coast.