In a game where the Clippers were rested and hosting one of the league’s worst teams, and the Pelicans were playing without both Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, there isn’t much that the home team could do to exceed expectations.
That’s all right, though. A blowout win is a blowout win, Blake Griffin got to take the night off to rest his sore knee, and Chris Paul even dazzled us with a little bit of history. That’s right, the Point God is the first player in NBA HISTORY to record a 20-point, 20-assist game with zero turnovers. To make it even sweeter, he did it in Ralph Lawler’s 3000th game as the Clippers’ announcer. Both of those guys are going to be in the rafters someday, and both are going to represent the Clippers in the basketball Hall of Fame. What an awesome, special night for them to share, and for us to experience.
Now for the bad news: Austin Rivers, who started in place of Blake Griffin and had an excellent 18 points on 6-9 shooting to go with 4 assists tonight, left the game in the early fourth quarter after apparently suffering a concussion during the third period when he caught an elbow from Terrence Jones. Rivers came back into the game at the start of the fourth, but could barely stay up on his feet and had to be carried back to the locker room. The Clippers were again without Raymond Felton, who is away from the team dealing with a family emergency. Obviously Rivers’ health and Felton’s family are clear priorities, but it will be interesting to see Doc Rivers juggle lineups if both of them have to miss games. Jamal Crawford would likely be forced into backup point guard duties, with Alan Anderson and Wesley Johnson playing on the wing for the second unit.
The exemplary performances didn’t stop with Paul and Rivers: Mo Speights chipped in with his best line as a Clipper, contributing 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists in 25 minutes. Wesley Johnson also had his strongest performance of the year with a season-high 10 points in a season-high 22 minutes. He also made 2-4 threes, just his second game with more than one triple this year. Hopefully this is a sign of opportunities to come for WeJo.
A special note has to be given to Jamal Crawford, who was in a good rhythm all night, hitting 10/13 from the field en route to 22 bench points. He was able to give the crowd a show and keep the margin comfortable in the third quarter.