Tobias Harris: 26 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists
Danilo Gallinari: 24 points, 6 rebounds, 8-9 FT
Lou Williams 17 points, 3 rebounds, 8-15 FG
Patrick Beverley: 12 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists
Bench points: Clips 45, Pels 22
Points off turnovers: Clips 18, Pels 11
The Clippers are a good basketball team. They are a team that probably felt slighted by many preseason prognosticators in the preseason that picked them to be 10-12 in the Western Conference. However, the Pelicans are just a better ball club right now. They’re more poised, commit very few errors, shoot well from everywhere, have a bonafide MVP candidate in Anthony Davis, and crush the offensive glass. This was a frustrating game, as the Clips kept it relatively close the entire second half, but couldn’t get the one stop they needed to make a breakthrough. It seemed as though the Pels kept the Clips at arms reach late as L.A. could not break a five point Pelicans lead, no matter how many open looks they got. Another frustrating aspect of the game was the fact that the Clips actually slowed the Pels down a lot and made them play boring basketball compared to their normal, league leading pace. They stuck to the defensive gameplan, but a lack of three-point shooting once again doomed L.A. The end result was a seven-point loss, but it could have been a seven-point win just as easily.
The first half was about as good of a start you can ask for against the Pelicans, as the Clippers, and their top three defense, stifled the Pelican deep-threats and made life hard for Nikola Mirotic. However, the Pelicans’ defense came to play, as their length really disrupted the Clippers starters early, forcing some bad shots and plenty of turnovers inside. Marcin Gortat looked lost next to Davis and couldn’t buy a bucket. He only got 12 minutes the whole game. Luckily, the resurgent Montrezl Harrell kept the Clippers in it with his trademark two-way energy, and contributed six first quarter points to go along with great defense. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also looked comfortable knocking down a mid-range shot, and passing and defending well. Tobias and Gallo both started getting to the hole late in the quarter and contributed too.
The second quarter was the best quarter of the night for the Clips. Trez continued his stellar chemistry with Lou and the pick-and-roll game flourished. Luc Mbah A Mout, contributed two quick layups and played good defense on AD, despite picking up three fouls in the first half (I mean how do you guard that man?). Gallo nailed everything at the free-throw line and got it going from deep. Tobias continued to attack the rim well and was especially effective in going to his left. The strong defensive game for L.A. shined in the first half as they held the Pels to 1-of-8 shooting from three and only 39 percent shooting. Against the best statistical offense in the game, those are impressive numbers. The Clips took an early three-point lead into halftime.
This lead was short-lived, however, as the Pels won the third by ten points and only allowed the Clips 22 points total. Their only saving grace was the hot hand of Lou Williams who contributed nine points in the quarter. Gortat was subbed out quickly after more bad play, and Avery Bradley continued to misfire (He shot 1-for-8 tonight. Did I mention we are paying this guy $12.5 million this year?). The Pelicans were up by 15 at one point as they started to hit their threes, and AD went to town against a smaller Harrell.
This trend continued in the fourth as the Pelicans made every big shot they needed to, and the Clippers continued to play 1-on-1 ball and misfire. Patrick Beverley was playing with heart down the stretch and had his best game of the season thus far. He was able to get to the rim effectively and knocked down a few shots. His defensive intensity, it felt like, singlehandedly kept the Clippers from folding entirely down the stretch. Shots, however, continued to not fall for them, and the Pelicans made every big shot. The end result was a frustrating seven point loss.
- SGA was hesitant on offense: SGA was not looking for his shot at all this game. Early he was getting easy mid-range shots off dribble drives and attacking the rim. For some reason, after the first quarter, Shai looked extremely hesitant to shoot the ball, and wasn’t even facing up to the rim when he had the ball in his hands. While he did make the first three of his Clippers career, he needs to look to score more on a nightly basis as it will open up the rest of his game, and his teammates’ games as well.
- Shooting was better, but still not great: For a team that shot a high clip from three in the preseason, the Clips can’t buy a deep-ball so far this season. For the game the Clips shot 5-of-20 from three for a whopping 25 percent. I mentioned in the game preview how these shooting stats are really not going to cut it against top level Western Conference teams, and tonight proved this. From the rest of the field, the Clips shot 47 percent, which is great. The lack of a three-ball killed them tonight however
- Ty Wallace sighting: Maybe Doc felt bad he is leaving a potentially impactful player sitting on the bench? Ty got in for 28 seconds at the end of the first half. He didn’t do anything, but it was good to see him out there nonetheless. While Ty doesn’t help with the Clips shooting woes, he is confident with the ball and finishes inside well. I hope Doc finds some room for him in the rotation here soon.