The Los Angeles Clippers lost their seventh game in a row in heartbreaking fashion Friday, falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-113 in overtime. Remarkably, the Clippers managed to lose the match-up despite never trailing Cleveland in all 48 minutes of regulation play.
The Clippers were hoping to snap a six-game losing streak, but lost steam at the end of each quarter and in the overtime period, allowing Cleveland to steal the win.
The Clippers were playing without starters Milos Teodosic, Danilo Gallinari and Patrick Beverley, but the Cavaliers were similarly short-handed, playing without Isaiah Thomas, Tristan Thompson, and starting point guard Derrick Rose. It was reported before Friday’s game that Rose would miss “at least” two more weeks of play due to an ankle injury.
Fans had reason to be cautiously optimistic in the first quarter of this East-West contest. The Clippers jumped out to a 12-0 lead (despite committing 4 turnovers in two minutes), behind great ball movement and solid defense. DeAndre Jordan was particularly good early on, dominating at the rim. He ended the quarter with 12 points and five rebounds.
Sindarius Thornwell contributed meaningful minutes, as did Wes Johnson – both hit shots from beyond the arc and were active on defense.
Unfortunately, the Clippers strong start was quickly mitigated by the Cavaliers, who went on a 15-6 run in the second half of the quarter, cutting the lead to three. At the end of one, the Clippers were only up 27-24.
In the second quarter, the Clippers continued to lead the Cavaliers, but could not break free of them. Dwyane “Benjamin Button” Wade all but single-handedly kept the Cavaliers in the game, scoring 17 points off the bench, with 11 of them coming from the free throw line. Fouls would be a problem for the Clippers throughout the half. They sent the Cavaliers to the line 20 times, while going to the line only twice times themselves. Clipper guards Thornwell, Austin Rivers, and Jawun Evans had difficulty playing effective defense without drawing a whistle; all found themselves with three fouls each before halftime.
Back-up center Montrezl Harrell got the call for this contest - rather than Willie Reed - and did not disappoint. Harrell proved solid off the bench as Jordan rested, scoring eight points and grabbing five boards in less than five minutes in the second quarter. The Cavaliers lack a strong rim protector, so the Clippers’ centers had their way in the paint. Harrell and Jordan combined for 24 points and 14 rebounds in the first half.
Hold on, needed a second— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) November 18, 2017
l k. Oh my... pic.twitter.com/vnfRjEJQjo
Blake Griffin and Johnson also contributed offensively. They had 9 and 10 points respectively.
Second Half & OT
Unfortunately, the success the Clippers had moving the ball and feeding their centers did not continue into the second half. Players stopped looking for high percentage shots inside and settled for outside shooting that had gone cold and short. They were also highly inconsistent in how well, and how much, they moved the ball. There were possessions where Rivers nearly dribbled out the clock on his own. Other times, Blake would take too long trying to back down double-teaming defenders, losing sight of the court and leaving teammates standing around. The Clippers did have a nice little 13-3 run early on in the third quarter to extend their lead to a game-high 15 points, but it was followed by 3 scoreless minutes that allowed the Cavaliers to end the quarter on a 12-0 run.
At the start of the fourth, the Clippers were clinging to an 81-78 lead. They would not relinquish that lead, but did allow the Cavaliers to tie the game 105-105 by the end of regulation. Cleveland was led by - no surprise here - LeBron James, who came up big with 16 points in the final 12 minutes. Rivers provided necessary offense for the Clippers, contributing 14 of his 16 points down the stretch after going 1-7 in the first half, but it was not enough for the Clippers to pull out the win.
In overtime, the Clippers’ struggles continued. They were outscored 13-8 in the period, and watched yet another close game slip through their fingers.
James led all scorers with 39 points and added 14 rebounds and 6 assists for Cleveland. Kevin Love finished with 25 points, and Wade had 23 points and a season-high 11 rebounds.
- Griffin led the Clippers with 23 points, however, he did not shoot well. He went 8-of-25, including 4-of-17 after halftime.
- Jordan, despite his hot start, only had 4 points in the second half and overtime period. He finished the game with a season-high 20 points and 22 rebounds. Jordan’s performance on the boards brought his career rebound total to over 7000. He is the 8th youngest player to reach such a milestone.
- Johnson had a solid game on both ends of the floor. He contributed 3 steals, 4 blocked shots, 4 assists, 7 rebounds and a season-high 15 points.
- As a team, the Clippers had a total of 29 assists; a silver lining in this loss. Lou Williams led the way with 7, while Rivers and Griffin had 6 and 5 respectively. Hopefully the ball movement on offense continues, and becomes more consistent, particularly when Teodosic and Beverley return to the line-up.
NEXT UP: The Clippers face the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center on Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 4:00 PM PT.