The Clippers earned a 92-89 victory over the Kings in a game that was both a finale and a debut, as the team capped off its preseason schedule in the maiden voyage of the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
The game looked to be comfortably in hand for the Clippers well into the fourth quarter when the Kings rallied for a 13-0 run to pull their deficit to just three. However, Jamal Crawford was able to put in two free throws to seal the game after being intentionally fouled.
It was a balanced scoring effort for the Clippers that saw five players score at least 10 points, but none reached 20. An impressive 27 of the team’s 35 made baskets were assisted, including a team-high eight assists for Chris Paul.
The defensive effort was also impressive as the Kings were held to 42 percent shooting from the field despite coming into the game as the preseason leaders in field goal percentage. Sacramento was particularly stifled from beyond the arc, making only 5 of 22 three-point shots.
DeMarcus Cousins did manage to have an impressive game for the Kings, scoring 23 points and pulling in 8 rebounds in just 25 minutes of playing time.
The Clippers will have a weeklong break before beginning the regular season with a nationally-televised game in Portland on Thursday, October 27th.
Thoughts, Blurbs, Ideas, et Cetera
–Much has been made of Marreese Speights’ shooting, but one underrated factor in his value is his rebounding. His rebounding rate of 15.5 percent last season was good for 67th in the league (per basketball-reference.com), which is solid for a backup. However, he is still a downgrade from Cole Aldrich in this facet of the game, which is a problem for a team that finished 29th in the NBA in rebounding percentage last season.
–There are two lenses through which the DeAndre Jordan versus Cousins matchup can be viewed. If viewed as a competition between two players vying for the title of Best Center in the NBA, it would look like Cousins has gotten the better of this. He was excellent in three matchups against Jordan last season and has had a slight edge in the box scores. However, if this matchup is viewed in the bigger picture, suddenly things look a little bit better for Jordan; what does it matter if he struggles to contain a player that there is virtually no chance of facing off with in the playoffs?
–It has been widely reported that Rudy Gay is on the trade block, which has to immediately get the attention of a Clippers team that wouldn’t mind bringing another decent small forward into the mix. If tonight’s game was an audition, however, Gay did not look the part of somebody that would bring much of a boost to Los Angeles, as he was held to six points on 3 of 10 shooting, tacking six turnovers onto that line as well. Even on a good night, his scoring abilities would be underappreciated if he were traded, as the Clippers would benefit more from a low-usage option that plays solid defense at small forward while stretching the floor on offense. There are enough high-volume scorers on the team already.
–Three-point shooting was a noticeable high point for the Clippers, most notably for J.J. Redick, who struggled to connect from beyond the arc in the first five games of the preseason. He managed to hit 3 of 6 three-point attempts tonight, reminding us that there isn’t any reason to worry. Last season’s league leader in three-point percentage did not, apparently, forget how to shoot the ball.
–After a horrible start to the preseason, Austin Rivers was able to have his second solid performance in as many nights, scoring 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting. Preseason yada yada, it’s still nice to see him finding a balance between throwing up errant shots and taking himself out of the game completely. In a perfect world, he’ll be able to attack enough to get into the occasional rhythm while being selective enough to maintain a respectable level of efficiency. It’s promising to see that he has done that twice now leading into the regular season.
–While the defensive numbers were great for the Clippers, it’s only fair to point out that the Kings’ shot chart was horrendous (see for yourself below, via Yahoo Sports). When a team takes that many midrange tries, they’ll be lucky to reach the high forties with their field goal percentage. You can give the Clippers credit for forcing the Kings to take such bad shots, but that didn’t really appear to be as big a factor in the shot selection as the Kings simply electing to pull up for those looks.