This game recap almost had to be completely reframed: instead of a resounding, tip-to-finish victory, the Clippers almost provided the NBA with one of the worst collapses of the season (maybe ever). Luckily, the Clippers were able to hold on and stave off the Kings’ second unit, who had cut the Clippers’ lead down to 3 with 1:12 left in the game. The Clippers’ lead had, at one time in the 4th quarter, been 27.
Before they made the game interesting, though, the Clippers built their huge lead right away with a 39 point first quarter. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led all scorers through the first frame, with 11 points on 5/5 shooting. Tobias Harris also added 10 points and two three pointers. The Clippers were able to keep the Fox-Hield backcourt to just a combined 10 points on 3/8 shooting.
39 points @LAClippers most in a first quarter at home this season - 3rd most overall in 1st— Jeanne Zelasko (@JeanneZelasko) December 27, 2018
The second quarter was more even, though the Clippers added to their lead, making a 56-71 halftime score. For the Kings, Fox started to get going, shooting 5/9 in the quarter. Likewise, Bogdan Boganovic had 9 points off the bench. The true sixth man of the game, though, was Montrezl Harrell, who had 15 points off the Clippers’ bench in the first half of play. He also had 4 rebounds and an assist.
Montrezl Harrell has 12 points (5-5 shooting, 2-2 FT), 2 steals, and 2 blocks in 9 minutes— Clips Nation (@ClipsNationSBN) December 27, 2018
The Clippers again out paced the Kings in the third quarter, 31-29. Through three, the Clippers had six players in double figures, led by Harrell’s 20 points. Interestingly, Gortat was a DNP - Coach’s Decision. Boban had 13 points and 5 rebounds in his place. The Kings also had 6 players in double figures, with Fox out in front at 19. Looking back at the game logs, it should have been more apparent that the Kings were feeling competitive, given that they were only outscored by five points during the middle quarters.
And boy did they thunder back in the final frame: with their second unit primarily taking control, the Kings outscored the Clippers by eight points overall in the quarter. But it felt much more lopsided in the moment. What was once a 27 point lead was down to just three, and Doc was forced to put Harrell, Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, and Lou Williams back in the game. Sindarius Thornwell, before order was restored, was a negative-15 for the game — in under three minutes of play. Shai, Ty Wallace, Mike Scott, and Boban were also a part of the leaky plug in the Clippers ship.
In the end, it was Montrezl Harrell who won the game ball — first by building the Clippers huge lead and then again with his fourth quarter heroics on the offensive and defensive end. He finished with 22 points, (8/12 shooting), 9 rebounds, and 5 blocks (tied for career high).