The Clippers were able to complete their longest road trip of the season in style by trouncing the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night by a score of 114-96. Blake Griffin shrugged off a slow start to finish with 27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists on 12/22 shooting from the floor. He outplayed Anthony Davis on both ends of the floor in an impressive and determined individual effort. Chris Paul came close to notching his second triple-double in as many games, but had to settle for 17 points along with 13 dimes and eight boards. Jamal Crawford was impressive in about 29 minutes off the bench, scoring a season-high 21 points in a game J.J. Redick missed in order to rest.
Noted future Defensive Player of the Year Luc Mbah a Moute was a major factor on both ends. He scored 15 points along with five rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 32 outstanding minutes.
New Orleans was able to hang around early but eventually succumbed to the more talented team. Davis was the only Pel to score in double-figures (21), with E’Twaun Moore and Terrence Jones combining for 29 points off the bench. LAC’s guards were able to hold the high-scoring NOP backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Tim Frazier to just 17 combined points on 6/18 shooting.
Griffin was being aggressive early but it wasn’t paying off. He was having difficulty getting good shots up over the interminable length of Anthony Davis, and made just two of his first eight attempts from the floor.
LAC was settling for a boatload of midrange Js in the first, but they were falling. They went 6/10 on shots from that distance over the first 12 minutes, but New Orleans was able to get into the paint and do damage at close range. The Pels went 7/11 on shots in the paint while also connecting on three of their five tries from three.
Paul Pierce continued to get rotation minutes, for some reason, and a big New Orleans run coincided with his time on the floor. What a surprise! LAC still wasn’t able to hit shots with any sort of regularity, and the Pelicans were running after every rebound. A quick run opened up a nine-point lead for the home team early in the second.
Doc Rivers opted to bench the bench unit and came back with four starters plus Jamal Crawford. With starters playing against a lineup consisting primarily of Pels reserves it didn’t take long for the Clippers to climb right back into the game. They went on a 9-0 run of their own before Griffin’s fifth three-pointer of the season put L.A. up 47-46 about midway through the second period.
LAC’s offense started off looking ragged, but the game turned once they ramped things up on the other end. The starters were doing a better job of getting back in transition defense, and to no surprise the Pelicans’ offense stumbled a bit in the halfcourt setting. Griffin started to find his shot and wound up finishing the half with a game-high 16 points on 50 percent shooting. Luc Mbah a Moute was doing his thing defensively, but was also able to make NOP pay for leaving him open. LMAM scored nine points and was a game-best +12 after the first 24 minutes. Just another day at the office for the NBA’s leader in net rating.
The Clips led 60-57 at the break.
Luc picked up right where he left off by drilling a wide open triple from the corner to give the Clippers an eight-point advantage early in the third. Right after that, Griffin knocked down yet another midranger to put L.A. up by double digits for the first time. He was doing most of his damage from there, but a Griffin layup on the break off a beautiful dime from CP3 later it was 79-64 all of a sudden.
Just as they did Thursday night in Cleveland the Clippers were able to rebuff every attempted Pelican run. LAC would go a few possessions without a bucket, but played strong enough defense to keep New Orleans from scoring, too. Crawford did his thing and scored four straight baskets including a 20-footer that put his team up by 13 heading into the fourth.
L.A. was able to keep their buffer going, but a few empty possessions followed by three by former Laker legend Anthony Brown cut the lead to 12, prompting a Clipper timeout. Crawford hit another long ball to restore the 13-point lead and set a new season-high with 21 points to that point. Luc followed with his third bomb from long range to make it 104-90 and a few Pels fans started heading for the exits.
Paul made sure the rest of the fans drove home safely with a daggerous triple of his own with just over three to play to make it a 17-point game.
Things looked a little dicey to start but the Clippers were able to lock things down after halftime and take care of business against a lesser foe. New Orleans is now six games under .500, but this is a quality win, regardless. They had been 5-2 over their last seven games, and the Clips were playing the second night of a back-to-back and the finale of a lengthy six-game road swing. Road wins don’t come easily in this league.
The club gets just one free day before a grudge match with the Pacers on Sunday at Staples. Considering the way Indiana embarrassed them last Sunday, you can bet the Clips will be ready to serve up some comeuppance.
LAC was able to salvage a road trip that got off to a rather inauspicious start. The wins over the Cavs and Pels put the Clippers at 3-3 over course of the road swing and upped their record to 16-5 on the young campaign.