The Clippers seemed to recover from a sluggish early East Coast start by the start of the third quarter, but the Wizards managed to keep it close throughout the second half. Once the Wiz struck in the 4th quarter, the road team had no answers.
The first quarter was gross for both teams, but particularly for the Clips. The Clippers only had 8 points well past the midway point of the 4th quarter, but a couple of three pointers by Marreese Speights made the final tally to end the first a bit more respectable at 27. The score was 28-27 D.C. after one after Wesley Johnson tipped a missed free throw back to John Wall who buried a shot at the buzer.
Doc Rivers left Chris Paul on the floor to end the first while Blake Griffin got some rest, and brought in Griffin a little early in the second to get some run with the backups. (Griffin also came back early with the backups in the 4th quarter) Griffin got rolling a bit in this quarter, keeping the game tight before putting the Clippers in the lead with a great alley oop to DeAndre Jordan that put the Clippers up to end the half. DJ hit a free throw that left a sloppy half with a 3 point Clipper lead, 55-52.
The Clippers got a quick start to the third quarter mostly behind the hot shooting of J.J. Redick, but Bradley Beal, who had already been torching the Clippers throughout the game, matched Redick and then some. A high scoring quarter shaved a single point off the Clipper lead, and we went into the 4th with the Clips up 87-85.
Then came the 4th quarter. Austin Rivers did a great job to leave his imprint on the first half of this quarter, getting great drives and playing frisky defense. A 3 pointer by Rivers put the Clippers up 102-95 with 6 minutes and change left. Then everything came undone. The Wizards went on a 7-0 run and really were just never stopped the rest of the way. The Wizards went 12-15 off field goals in the 4th. Markieff Morris continued the trend of a Morris brother burying the Clippers in a 4th quarter and soon the game slipped out of reach. Doc Rivers got ejected again in another road game where the Clippers took their foot off the gas. The Clippers defensive woes have been an issue, and not even the return of Luc Mbah a Moute corrected them tonight as they could not stop anything down the stretch of this game. The Clippers have not been closing games well lately, and it finally bit them tonight and cost them a W against a Wizards team that has been gaining confidence. The Clippers have work to do, and now see themselves behind Houston in the standings.
-Paul usually feasts in Washington, but it felt like he could never quite get it going. He got to his spots, put Marcin Gortat on an island whenever he got switched on him, and got a ton of good looks elsewhere too.. But CP3 never totally got it going tonight. With how he’s been in this matchup, many of us were waiting for him to turn it up. Paul had 13 and 12 tonight, and shot only 6-15.
-Griffin looked good most of the game, and the entire Clipper team did well to take advantage of putting Gortat’s slow feet in pick and roll situations, from Paul getting him off switches to Griffin connecting with Jordan in lob situations in the key. (Including one beautiful reverse alley oop to DJ) Unfortunately, Griffin faded as the game went on and got outplayed by Morris down the stretch. A shame, it was a historic night for Griffin as he passed Elton Brand for 3rd all time on the Clippers scoring list. Griffin finished with 26, 7, and 7.
-Beal is a flat out scorer. His max contract got some eye rolls recently, deservedly, but entirely because of health reasons. When this guy is healthy, he’s as good of a scorer as you can get from the 2 guard position. He had the whole game going today. When Luc tried checking him, he just ran off screens and got loose. I feel like there are a handful of players that are great scoring guards not only with the ball in their hands, but off the ball, and Beal is one of them. Beal had 41 points today, on 13-23 from the field, with 6 triples. The Beal/Wall combination is truly special.
-Wall didn’t have a great game but made his presence known in a timely fashion. That airball free throw he had down the stretch was definitely memorable too, though. Oh me oh my.
-Rivers and Mo Buckets were both great today, and buoyed the bench. Mo’s knack for offensive boards is always a handy thing with shot happy guards like Rivers and Jamal Crawford, and he had some big second chance opportunities today. Rivers, as mentioned, had a great stretch in the 4th quarter, before the Clippers fell apart.
-Jordan was great on the glass most of today (17 rebs) and even hit a couple huge free throws to keep the Clippers within a possession. He followed that up with 2 misses at the line, though.
-Kudos to that airhorn bro in the arena today that was ready to go in the 4th quarter. That is not a pleasant sound.
The Clippers head home for a 3 game homestand, starting with a matchup against the Nuggets on Tuesday night.