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Sluggish Clippers fall to Pelicans, 111-103

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LAC put forth a decent effort, but ultimately DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis proved to be too much to handle.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Led by 35 points and 15 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins, the New Orleans Pelicans handed the L.A. Clippers their fifth consecutive loss with a 111-103 win in the Big Easy on Saturday evening.

The Clippers struggled to generate consistent offense all night long, and at times there was obvious fatigue with the team playing the second half of a back-to-back. Regardless, LAC battled throughout and had plenty of chances to steal a victory tonight.

Blake Griffin once again led the way for LAC with 26 points, but he made just nine of his 27 shots to get there. That would be a theme for the Clips on this night, as they converted just 40.7 percent of their looks from the field in the game. Austin Rivers contributed 19 points on 7-for-18 shooting, while Lou Williams bagged 14 of his own on a 5-for-16 effort from the floor. The Clippers also got a nice game out of rookie Jawun Evans, who finished with a career-high 11 points along with four rebounds, three assists and a theft. He can play.

Anthony Davis finished with 25 points and 10 boards for the Pelicans, who moved over the .500 mark (7-6) for the first time this season. Unlike the Clips, the Pels didn’t have many problems offensively in this one. New Orleans shot a sizzling 53.8 percent for the game, including 6-for-16 from three-point range.

The Pelicans’ 16 three-point attempts was a season-low by a wide margin, and their lack of treys was due in large part to the fact that the Clippers were offering very little resistance down low. New Orleans finished with a whopping 58 points in the paint against DeAndre Jordan and co. Why jack triples when you can get a layup every time down?

L.A. was able to stay in the game thanks to the Pelicans’ struggles to hang onto the ball.. The Clippers generated 33 points off of 23 New Orleans turnovers, while the Pelicans scored 16 off of just 12 turnovers for L.A. It’s also probably worth noting that 33 points off of 23 turnovers isn’t a particularly good ratio. Also, the Clippers were spanked on the glass by a 51-37 margin.

The Clips put forth a good effort tonight, but winning in New Orleans was always going to be a tall order after the hard-fought game in OKC last night. The Clippers will now come home to face the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night before embarking on a five-game road trip.

First Quarter

The Clippers came out fairly ragged in this one after having played last night in Oklahoma City. LAC connected on just two of their first 11 shots from the floor, while the Pelicans started 5-for-8.

As expected, Blake Griffin came out aggressively against the Pels’ dynamic big man duo. Griffin jacked 10 shots in the first, of which he made four, for a team-high 11 points in the first frame. The thing about playing against New Orleans is that you know the vast majority of their offense is running through Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Even then, it’s extremely difficult to contain. The Pelicans’ All-Star big man tandem combined to score 19 points and grab nine rebounds in the first quarter alone.

New Orleans wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders, as they turned the ball over seven times in the game’s first 12 minutes alone. Unfortunately, the cold-shooting Clips weren’t able to make them pay for their mistakes. The Pelicans shot nearly 58 percent in the first, compared to a 37 percent mark for LAC. After one, New Orleans held a 31-26 edge.

Second Quarter

Willie Reed and Montrezl Harrell are promising young players, but there isn’t much you can do when Cousins wants to bully his way to the rim. The Pels were aggressively getting the ball to Boogie in the post to begin the second, and he wasn’t having a hard time putting the ball into the bucket. Cousins poured in eight quick points to begin the period before Doc Rivers came back with DeAndre Jordan.

While the Pels were having little issue getting quality shots, the Clips’ offense started to show signs of life on the other end. The Clippers went on a quick 9-2 run after Jordan returned to pull to within a point at 42-41 halfway through the second.

With Boogie on the bench and Davis back in the lineup, New Orleans opted to put Davis on Jordan and put youngster Cheick Diallo on Griffin. The Clippers repeatedly attempted to exploit that matchup on the block, and it paid off handsomely with Griffin drawing shooting fouls on consecutive possessions. After that, the Pels switched Davis back on to Griffin.

The Clippers also got good minutes from their rookies, Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans. The two played with a good amount of energy on both ends, and had combined to contribute 11 points, four assists and three rebounds by the break.

LAC was sticking close, but it felt as though New Orleans had very few empty possessions. The Pelicans had a 63-58 lead at halftime on tidy 59 percent shooting from the field. New Orleans’ hefty shooting percentage obviously had plenty to do with the fact that they were getting essentially whatever they wanted inside:

NOP had 38 points in the paint in the first half. That’s an awful lot of green right around the bucket.

Third Quarter

Griffin opened the third with six quick points to give the Clippers the lead for the first time since the game’s early stages before the Pels grabbed it right back with a slam from Davis. New Orleans’ turnover woes continued as Cousins coughed it up on three straight possessions early in the period. Unfortunately, L.A. managed to score on just one of the subsequent three post-turnover possessions.

Lack of ball security for New Orleans was offsetting their hot shooting and effectively keeping the Clippers within striking distance. A Thornwell steal in the backcourt led to an easy layup for Austin Rivers to bring LAC back to within a point at 70-69, prompting an Alvin Gentry timeout. At this point, the Pels were getting crushed in the turnover battle, 17-7.

With the offense doing little more than giving ISOs to Griffin or Rivers every time down, Doc opted to bring Lou Williams back into the game at the halfway point of the third in an attempt to put some points on the board.

Unfortunately, the opposite happened. The Clips endured a few empty possessions, while the Pelicans canned a pair of triples in addition to an E’Twaun Moore jumper to pump the lead back up to eight points. After three, the Pels held a six-point advantage at 88-82.

Fourth Quarter

The beginning of the final period was going to be crucial for the Clippers, who started the frame with Rivers as the lone starter on the floor. Willie Reed was once again tasked with the unenviable job of trying to defend Cousins, who continued to eat on the block.

The Clips were getting the majority of their offense from the free throw line. Once again sensing the need to try and jumpstart the offense, Rivers came back with Griffin before the 10-minute mark. Jordan followed shortly thereafter. An absurdly high bank shot from Cousins extended NOP’s lead to double-figures with eight minutes to play.

At this point, the game started to feel like it was getting away from the Clippers. A pair of Clipper coaches were hit with technicals for complaining to the officials, while Griffin could’ve easily drawn a third after screaming “AND ONE!” into the face of another referee after hitting a tough shot over Davis. A Griffin miss followed by a fastbreak, and-one dunk from the Brow restored New Orleans’ 10-point lead at 96-86.

Then, Austin Rivers was finally able to generate some rhythm. The coach’s son bagged 11 points in the span of three minutes for the Clippers, including three threes, to close the gap to four once again. Rivers was then unable to convert on a floater with the chance to make it a one-possession game, though, and a layup by Moore on the other end made it a six-point gap with under two to go.

The Clippers just couldn’t get enough stops down the stretch to ever catch all the way up.