The first half was a very up and down affair, as each team scored 30 or more in both the 1st and 2nd quarters. Chris Paul and JJ Redick led the way early on, each finding themselves free consistently, especially in the midrange. On the other end, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins were scoring just as frequently, and Cousins was gobbling up rebounds left and right. One of the reasons the Kings were able to hang in during the 1st half was their abundance of offensive rebounds. At one point they had seven offensive boards against the Clippers nine defensive rebounds. The effort was unacceptable, and the Clippers seemed like they might have a long night ahead of them. The Clippers' bench stayed afloat through the efforts of Jamal Crawford, who made several difficult shots. The 2nd quarter was much the same as the first, but this time Jeff Green got in on the action, especially after CP3 ripped him following a sequence where he hesitated and passed up a wide open 3. Sadly, despite Paul's efforts, the Kings led at the half by three, with Cousins putting up the better part of a triple double. Right before the half, Cousins stuck his hand in Chris's face and hit his eye, almost completely closing it (though it improved substantially during halftime).
The third quarter started out grimly; the Kings made shot after shot, finally pulling ahead by eight, 72-64. The Clips then went on a 23-2 run. Yep, you read that correctly. The defense tightened significantly (though the Kings were also just missing looks), while the Clippers got open time and again running out after the missed shots. Chris danced here and there, picking the Kings apart all over the court. Jeff Green drained three pointers, DJ got rebounds, JJ provided spacing, and Luc played defense. The unit was so good that Doc left them in until the 2:20 mark of the quarter, when he finally subbed in Wes and Jamal. Chris stayed in through the end of the quarter, and the lead reached 15.
Jamal started taking a lot of bad shots to start the 4th, and the Clippers offense slowed, but it didn't matter because the Kings just couldn't score. Cole Aldrich was extremely physical with DeMarcus Cousins, who got more and more frustrated with his lack of scoring and his team's struggles. CJ Wilcox and Pablo Prigioni played solid defense, and Pablo even got one of his patented inbounds steals leading to a Jamal layup. The Kings were kind of hanging around, however, so Doc brought back the starters at around the 7 minute mark. Almost immediately the Clips were back in control, and the lead ballooned out to 20. The last few minutes were consumed mostly with wondering whether Paul was coming out or not, but Doc left him in until the 0:43 mark to try to get both a triple double and a career high in points (43). Neither occurred, but it didn't really matter. The only other major event was Cousins throwing a ball going out of bounds at CP's head kind of hard, but Paul didn't seem to take much offense to it (Cousins did get a technical foul, but it was for something else- and even sillier).
The Point God Cometh: Chris Paul may not have put up a triple double or got his career high in points scored, but his final statline was still mind-blowing. He finished with 40 points, 13 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and only 2 turnovers. Only 6 players put up a similar or better line since 1985 (Ben Bolch on Twitter). He shot 13-20 from the field, 4-9 from three, and 10-10 from the free throw line. Oh, and he also played great defense on Darren Collison. Chris Paul is a top 5 point guard of all time by my reckoning, and this was easily a top 10 game in his career. At age 30, and with a lot of miles on him, this might be the capstone of his prime, a prime that has been underrated and overlooked by far too many basketball fans. It is a joy to watch him play basketball 82+ games a season.
Jeff Green's First Career Clippers Start Goes Well: I could talk all night about Chris Paul, but Jeff Green was huge in this game as well. After hesitating a bit in the first half, especially on the sequence I mentioned above, he came out with a vengeance in the second half. While he probably won't hit 4-5 on three pointers very frequently, I think that 20+ point games should come with decent regularity, especially while Blake remains sidelined. He ran the court well, found space behind the three point line, and threw in a handful of rebounds. Yeah he made a couple bad passes and slipped on defense a couple times. However, this is exactly the kind of game that the Clippers acquired Jeff Green to play, and he performed magnificently.
Boogie Frustrated: DeMarcus Cousins is an incredible basketball talent, a guy who just dominates on the court 9 out of every 10 games he plays. Unfortunately, he still doesn't seem to have evolved much rein on his emotions, and they can really take him out of the game. He threw up a 26/15/9 line, but most of those contributions came in the first half, and he also had 7 turnovers. It is amazing that he can shoot 3 pointers, yet he settles for jumpers far too frequently. He is at his best in the post and attacking the basket, but when he gets flustered the drives lose grace and start becoming straight bully moves, which aren't quite as effective. Tonight he started growing annoyed in the 2nd quarter, and was steaming for most of the 3rd and 4th, culminating in a technical foul. This was given on a play where he complained about an overturned backcourt violation on the Clippers when he was the one who touched the ball. I don't think he is a bad guy necessarily, but that kind of stuff is just silly.
The Curry's and Clippers: Did the Clippers ever do something to Dell Curry? Because he raised his sons to cause havoc on the Clips whenever they play them. Seth Curry set his career high in points tonight by dropping 19 in just 26 minutes, and on only 9 shots. He helped the game stay reasonably close throughout by knocking down seemingly every shot he took. One would think that the Clippers would know not to help off a Curry by now, but apparently not.
Overall Contributions: While CP3 and Jeff were the most talked about Clippers tonight, everyone who played helped the team. Jamal carried the squad during bench unit runs, and while he took some typical "Oh no Jamal" shots, he generally played well. Cole was great on defense, and even though he wasn't credited for any blocks, he stifled a lot of looks in the paint. DJ and JJ were both relatively quiet, but finished with 11 rebounds and 16 points respectively. If this was an off night for them, well..... they are pretty good players folks. CJ Wilcox had a new season high in minutes played with 11, played mostly good defense, and looked like he belonged on the court despite missing all four of his shot attempts. Pablo, Wejo, and Luc had a couple nice plays as well.
This was a good win for the Clippers, and a highly entertaining game. Next up is an absolute must win, a home game on two days rest against the awful Brooklyn Nets Monday night. Go Clips!