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Clippers Win Thriller in New Orleans, Beat the Pelicans 129-126

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The game went down to the wire, but the Clippers dug out the win to maintain the top spot in the Western Conference

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Game Summary:

The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Pelicans in New Orleans Monday evening in a nail-biting event that went down to the wire. The Clippers, still healing from Sunday’s physical loss to the Dallas Mavericks, showed poise and resilience down the stretch to secure the victory.

With the win, the Clippers improve to a record of 16-7 and remain on top in the Western Conference alongside the Denver Nuggets. Both teams boast a win percentage of .696.

The Pelicans fall to 12-13 with the loss and stand five games behind first place in the West in the 11th seed. They have lost six of their last eight games.

Starting Five:

The Clippers started the game with Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Marcin Gortat and Tobias Harris.

The Pelicans had a last-minute change in their line-up. Nikola Mirotic did not play due to illness. Julius Randle started in his stead, alongside Tim Frazier, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore and Anthony Davis.

First Half:

Ball movement was noticeably better early on in this match-up than other recent games, and the Clippers were getting good looks at the basket. Unfortunately, the Pelicans’ offense was also clicking. Neither team appeared terribly locked in on defense; much of the quarter was comprised of back and forth scoring.

The Clippers had early defensive problems matching up with Julius Randle and Anthony Davis. Davis had 12 points in the quarter.

Once the dynamic duo of Montrezl Harrel and Lou Williams hit the floor for the Clippers, things got more interesting on offense. Los Angeles went on a 14-4 burst highlighted by a Tobias Harris three-pointer, a Harrell lay-up, and a Williams 3-point-play.

At the end of one period the Clippers led the Pelicans by seven: 36-29.

Tobias Harris was best in the quarter for the Clippers with 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting, 1 rebound and 1 steal. Danilo Gallinari was also solid with 7 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists. Avery Bradley contributed 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists.

Anthony Davis finished the frame with 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals for the Pelicans.

The Clippers started the second quarter with Patrick Beverley, Harrell and Williams on the floor, joined by Tyrone Wallace and Mike Scott. Wallace has not played many minutes this season but is always ready to go. He brought instant energy to the hardwood, immediately attacking the basket for a bucket. Wallace would go on to score six points in the period, on 3 of 5 shooting.

The bench as a whole performed exceptionally well and was able to extend the Clipper lead to a dozen by half-time: 77-65. Williams, Harrell and Wallace combined for 27 points on 11 of 14 shooting and Beverley dished out five assists.

Stats at the Half:

The Clippers’ offensive success in the first half was a total team effort. They logged an impressive 77 points on 65% shooting. Five players hit double figures, and the team combined for 19 assists.

  • Tobias Harris: 14 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals
  • Danilo Gallinari: 13 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Montrezl Harrell: 11 pointts, 1 rebound, 1 assist
  • Lou Williams: 10 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists
  • Avery Bradley: 10 points.

Julius Randle was crazy good for New Orleans, he had a game high 26 points on 11 of 16 shooting (10 of those in the paint), by half time. Davis, who started strong with 12 points in the first quarter was held scoreless in the second frame and by halftime had picked up three fouls.

Second Half:

The game became markedly more physical in the third quarter, which appeared to throw the Clippers for a loop. In just under five minutes the Pelicans were able to cut LA’s lead to five on a 17-4 run. The Clippers made just enough buckets to weather the storm, and by the end of three periods were clinging to a four-point lead: 101-97.

In the final frame, Ty Wallace again got the call and again brought instant energy and offense to the floor. A basket by Wallace and three-pointer from Beverley helped the Clippers create some breathing space, but the lead was short-lived.

The Clippers’ offense was stuttering. Ball movement was not as good as the first half, shot selection was not great, and players were noticeably impacted by Davis’ presence on the floor. The Brow was altering shots just standing in the lane.

Defensively, the Clippers also struggled. They had no answer for Randle, and Holiday was heating up. Holiday scored 7 in a row at one point to cut the Clippers’ lead to 1.

At just under the six-minute mark, the Pelicans took the lead. The momentum was all theirs, and they had the full support of a very loud New Orleans crowd. Two minutes later, in a stroke of luck for the Clippers, Randle fouled out. This took a bit of the wind out of the Pelicans’ sails.

Harris, Williams and Gallinari were all big for the Clippers down the stretch, hitting big buckets and/or free throws. Bradley was excellent on defense during the final minutes as well.

Williams had the shot of the night, a long jumper at the shot clock buzzer to extend the Clippers’ lead to three points with just over six seconds left in regulation.

Harris also made two big free throws with four seconds left in the game to ensure the Clipper win.

Final Score: 127-126.

Notable Final Game Stats:

  • Harris: 27 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals
  • Gallinari: 24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists
  • Bradley: 15 points on 7-12 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
  • Williams: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists
  • Harrell: 14 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists
  • Beverley: 8 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists
  • Wallace: 8 points, 3 rebounds

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a quiet game, contributing 7 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in just under 23 minutes. It was a bit surprising not to see him on the floor more during this game, particularly given how much the Clippers have used him in crunch-time situations so far this season.

The Pelicans were led by Randle (37 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists), Holiday (32 points, 4 rebounds, 14 assists) and Davis (23 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists).

Takeaways:

Solid Shooting: The Clippers shot 59 percent from field, and 40 percent from behind the arc (8 of 20). They also went 23 of 30 from the line (76.6 percent). Overall, ball movement was better than we have seen in the recent stretch of games, as evidenced by the Clippers’ 29 assists and aforementioned shooting percentages.

Solid Rebounding: Coming into Monday’s match-up, the Pelicans were the 3rd best rebounding team in the NBA. The Clippers nonetheless found a way to snatch up 39 individual rebounds and 10 team rebounds, compared to the Pelicans 35 individual and 7 team rebounds. Quite a turn-around from Sunday’s contest against the Mavericks, where the Clippers were absolutely destroyed on the glass.

The Bench is Back: With New Orleans’ Nikola Mirotic out due to illness and Randle starting in his place, the Clippers second unit was going to be the deciding factor in this game. The Clippers’ bench rose to the occasion, outscoring the Pelicans 52 to 21. This is a very good sign for the Clippers given their upcoming schedule. The bench had not been performing up to ability recently and needed to get back on track.

Wallace had nice contributions tonight and Williams is getting his groove back. Sweet Lou was 7 of 12 from the field. Bradley, who has struggled, is now on an uptick. He has logged 10+ points in three consecutive games, in addition to his stellar defense. The consistently excellent Harrell has scored at least 14 points in 12 straight games off the bench. That’s the longest active streak among reserves in the NBA. Harrell has struggled as of late from the free throw line, but don’t expect that to continue.

Tobi and Gallo Continue to Shine: Harris and Gallinari continue to be the crown jewels of this Clipper franchise. They are leaders on the court and continue to play at an exceptional level, game after game. Harris even had the honor of being named the Western Conference Player of the Month for November in recognition of his excellent play.

(Not to be outdone, Doc Rivers was also named the Western Conference Coach of the Month.)

Points in the Paint: The Clippers entered this game knowing they needed to keep the Pelicans out of the paint. New Orleans is leading the league in points in the paint, at 57.8 points per game. Although the Clippers were not exactly successful in stopping the Pelicans from scoring in the lane, they were successful matching that scoring. Los Angeles put up 62 points in the paint on 31 of 49 shooting, compared to New Orleans 64 points on 32 for 49 shooting.

Turnovers and Second Chance Points: Turnovers continue to be a concern. The Clippers gave up 15 points on 12 turnovers to the Pelicans. The Clippers also gave up 19 second chance points. Ouch.

Resilience: At one point in the first half the Clippers were up by 18 points. Although it is of concern that the Clippers struggle to hold leads in games like this, there is something very positive about the squad’s resilience, “never give up” attitude and the demonstrated ability to finish games.

Final Thought:

Finally, can we have a moment of silence for the splendor that was Alvin Gentry’s suit tonight? (This is tangentially Clippers related, given his coaching history in Los Angeles.)

Next Up:

The Clippers continue their road trip on Wednesday when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, December 5, 2018. Tip-off of that contest is 5:00 pm.