The 15-19 Los Angeles Clippers hosted the 13-22 Charlotte Hornets Sunday afternoon at Staples Center. Despite having a dismal second quarter, the Clippers pulled off the win, led by sharp shooter Lou Williams and Blake Griffin, who combined for 66 points.
The Hornets, fresh off a surprising 111-100 win against the Golden State Warriors were lead by Kemba Walker, who scored 30 in the loss.
The Clippers were without Austin Rivers, who suffered a left Achilles injury during Friday’s win against the Los Angeles Lakers. Rookie Jawun Evans started in his stead; his first start since joining the NBA.
Evans was given an extremely difficult assignment in Walker who went off for 26, including six from deep, the last time these two squads met.
Fouls in the backcourt were an issue for Los Angeles early on, with both Milos Teodosic and Evans exiting the first quarter with two fouls. Teodosic picked up both his fouls within the first four minutes, and was subbed out quickly for Williams, who immediately made his presence known. Williams poured in 11 points in three minutes, including three 3-pointers. Williams finished the quarter with 16 points on 6-7 shooting in nine minutes. He also had two assists.
The Clippers finished the quarter with a seven-point edge, 29-22. In addition to Williams’ offensive output, Blake Griffin had a solid quarter with seven points, three rebounds and three assists.
The Clippers started the second quarter with Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell and Sindarious Thornwell joining Williams and Johnson on the floor. Fouls continued to be an issue for the Clippers’ shorthanded backcourt; Thornwell picked up two fouls in just as many minutes.
Charlotte started off the quarter hot, going on a 19-5 run, assuming the lead and a cushion. The Clippers’ defensive intensity took a dip, as did their offense. Without Rivers in the line-up as an additional scoring option, the Clippers had trouble getting buckets.
By mid-quarter, Milos, Blake and DeAndre Jordan had all re-entered the line-up. However, the Clippers continued to struggle. They lacked energy on both ends of the floor. Defense was inconsistent, with offensive rebounding and second chance opportunities favoring Charlotte. It was an ugly, ugly quarter that ended with the Clippers shooting 13 percent from the field and being outscored by Charlotte 30-13. At the half, Los Angeles trailed Charlotte by 10, 52-42.
Notable stats at the half:
- Clippers - Williams: 20 points, 3 assists; Griffin: 9 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists; Jordan: 2 points, 9 rebounds.
- Hornets - Walker: 20 points, 2 rebounds.
The Clippers came out of the half with renewed spark, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. They controlled the glass, drew offensive fouls and blocked shots.
The Clippers were led by the presence of Jordan and Griffin, who combined for 20 points. Griffin had 14 points in the quarter, including two three pointers, and Jordan went 6-6 at the line (yes, that is not a typo).
Led by their veterans, the Clippers stormed back into the game, outscoring the Hornets 33-14 in the period. Los Angeles entered the fourth with a 75-66 lead.
Charlotte outscored Los Angeles 32-31 in the final quarter but the Clippers held on to take the win 106-98. With the victory, the franchise improves to 16-19 for the season.
Williams was big for Los Angeles again in the fourth, scoring 15 points. He finished the game with 40 points and 8 assists off the bench, the most points scored by a reserve in a single game this season. He also led the Clippers in minutes played, logging just over 37.
The Clippers only had two players in double figures, which is not great, but a win is a win. Here are your full game highlights:
Final— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 1, 2018
5️⃣ Takeways: https://t.co/4yXVIwQwX4
: https://t.co/93OVndrgHR pic.twitter.com/qgTiHlDcQk
- No Question, Blake’s Back. During Friday’s game against the Lakers, Blake had 24 points, six rebounds and six assists. Impressively, he also logged 32 minutes in his first game after missing 14 games with a sprained MCL. Some pundits suggested Griffin’s minutes be managed as he eases back into the line-up, but no. Blake’s back, and has not missed a step. Against the Hornets, Griffin continued to impress, contributing 25 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks in 33 minutes.
- DeAndre Jordan went 100-percent from the line against the Hornets, making 6 out of 6 free throws. DJ finished the game with 8 points, 16 rebounds and 2 assists. A strong performance but... Jordan is not as involved offensively as he should be, a perennial problem for the Clippers. As the most athletic big man in the NBA, he should be getting more touches and scoring double figures nightly.
- Sweet Lou Williams scored more than 30 points for the 8th time this season, and 40 points or more for the second time (once as a starter, once as a reserve). We all agree he is a shoe-in for Sixth-Man honors, right? Is an All-Star nod out of the question?
The Clippers next face the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 7:30 PM PT. Apparently, they are giving away DeAndre Jordan and DJ Khaled All-Star Bobbleheads. Plan accordingly.