The Clippers began a 3-game homestead with a highly entertaining victory over the Sacramento Kings Sunday. Historically, the Clippers have come out sluggish in mid-day match-ups, but they pleasantly surprised a sold-out crowd at Staples Center with an energetic wire to wire 122-108 win.
The Clippers improve their record to 28-22, while the Kings fall to 25-25.
LA Clippers: Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Marcin Gortat, Patrick Beverley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Sacramento Kings: Iman Shumpert, Nemanja Bjelica, Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox
The Clippers had a fantastic opening quarter, seemingly happy to be back in the Los Angeles sun after their recent road trip to frigid Chicago. No one was readier to go than Patrick Beverley, who put up 11 points in the frame, including three from distance.
The Clippers moved the ball well on offense, as evidence by the 11 assists they racked up in the quarter.
About six minutes into the game Tobias Harris picked up a second foul, prompting Doc Rivers to give Mike Scott an early call off the bench. Despite not playing in three of the Clippers’ last four outings, Scott did not disappoint. He put in solid minutes for Los Angeles, including hitting two from long.
Three-point shooting was the early story line for the Clippers. The team were hot early on, hitting six of seven from deep. Defense was also on point. The Clippers were locked in and winning the battle of the boards (14 to 10). Energy was surprisingly high for the first game home after a four-game road trip.
If there was any down side in the quarter it was that the Clippers were getting burned by the Kings on fast breaks off turnovers and rebounds.
At the end of the first the Clippers led 34-21.
The second quarter the Clippers’ most dominant quarter of the night. The squad was getting whatever they wanted offensively, particularly off pick-and-rolls. Jerome Robinson started the quarter, alongside Harrell, Scott, Avery Bradley and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The Clippers lead extended to 23 fairly quickly with guys having little difficulty getting to the rim and defense remaining locked in. It was abundantly clear the Kings were struggling to handle the Clipper offense, especially Montrezl. Harrell dominated in the paint, putting up nine points in the quarter.
With just under six minutes to go in the half, Johnathan Motley made an appearance, replacing Harrell at the center position. This guy is something special. He was active at the rim, solid in the pick-and-roll and got to the line more than once in his six minutes of play. He finished the game with six points and two rebounds.
Of some concern, the Clippers continued to turn the ball over, allowing the Kings to finish the half on a 13-4 run, reducing a 25-point lead to 16.
At the half the Clippers led 67-51.
Stats at the Half
- Clippers shot 52 percent from the field; the Kings 40 percent.
- Clippers were 7 for 17 from distance (41 percent); the Kings 4 for 16 (25 percent).
- Clippers out-rebounded the Kings 28 to 19.
- Clippers logged 21 assists to the Kings’ 10
- Clippers had 9 turnovers to the Kings’ 6.
- Clippers had 21 assists to the Kings’10.
- Clippers’ bench out-scored the Kings’ reserves 37 to 20.
Stat leaders for the Clippers:
- Montrezl Harrell: 13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
- Patrick Beverley: 11 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block
- Lou Williams: 8 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals
Stat leaders for the Kings:
- De’Aaron Fox: 11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists
- Buddy Hield: 9 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists
The Kings momentum from the end of the half continued into the third quarter. In less than two minutes the Clippers’ lead was down to 11.
The Clippers let up on defense, and were forcing offense, taking too many shots early in the clock. They stopped attacking the basket and were not taking time to find open and high percentage shots. As a result, they ended up 1 for 13 to begin the half.
Once the ball started moving again, the Kings defense could not keep up. They frequently missed assignments allowing the Clippers to score easy buckets. The lead ballooned back up to 16.
The lead dropped back down to 11 by the end of the third after a couple of sloppy Clipper possessions. However, Los Angeles had weathered Sacramento’s comeback attempt, and ended the quarter on top 87 to 76.
Tobais Harris and Shai Gilgeous Alexander led the Clippers in the frame, contributing 7 points each.
The Kings open the fourth with energy, exploiting Clippers’ turnovers and lapses on defense to cut the lead to seven on an 11-2 scoring burst.
After a time out by Doc Rivers, the Kings continues to chip away at the Clippers’ lead, cutting it to five points with nine minutes left in regulation.
Then the Clippers locked in again. An increase in defensive intensity, three straight baskets late in the clock (including two at the buzzer), and a couple monster dunks from Montrezl brought the Clippers’ lead back up to double digits.
The game remained out of the Kings’ reach for the remainder of regulation.
Clippers win: 122-108
Notable Final Game Stats
The Clippers had six players in double figures:
- Montrezl Harrell: 25 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist
- Tobias Harris: 18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 17 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
- Patrick Beverley: 16 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 block, 1 steal
- Lou Williams: 12 points, 6 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals
- Avery Bradley: 12 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal
The Kings had five players in double figures. De’Aaron Fox was best with 21 points, three assists and four rebounds. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 19 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter.
Continued Success at the Charity Stripe: Coming into Sunday’s contest the Clippers led the NBA in free-three throws made (22.4) and attempted (28.3) per game this season. They continued their terrific shooting from the line, hitting 27 of 29.
Tobias Hits a Milestone: Tobias Harris finished the game with 6 rebounds, passing 3,000 career rebounds. He is averaging 8.0 boards per game thus far this season.
Lou Williams is Still Loud, Even on a Quiet Night: Lou Williams finished the game with a double-double despite not shooting well, hitting only 2 of 16 from the field. Regardless, there is no denying his special relationship with the basket.
Patrick Beverley Continues his Solid Play: Mr. 95 Feet had a terrific game, coming close to a triple double with 16 points, nine rebounds (reminder, he is only 6-1), and eight assists. In the last 21 games Beverley has shot an impressive 42 percent from three-point-land. Sunday he went 4 for 5 from distance. Of course, Beverley is not the only one who stepped up this outing – Bradley did as well – however, his first quarter play on both ends of the floor really set the tone early on in this contest. Beverley’s value on this team cannot be overstated.
Montrezl Harrell is a Beast: Speaking of value, night after night Montrezl Harrell continues to impress. He is performing way above contract; he is arguably the best value in the league. The Kings had no answer for him in the paint or on the pick-and-roll. He dominated in this battle. Harrell just turned 25 yesterday and has really made a name for himself in the league this season.
Balanced Scoring and Unselfish Play: The Clippers had six players in double figures. Different players stepped up at different points in the game, making it very difficult for the Kings to anticipate where defensive efforts were most necessary. As Patrick Beverly put it in a post-game interview with Fox’s Kristina Pink, the Clippers strategy is to make sure “everyone eats.”
The rest of the league really should not under-estimate the potential of this “star-less” squad. In a game where the Clippers were without Danilo Gallinari, and Lou Williams and Tobias Harris shot a combined 8 for 33, they were still able to pull off a strong and convincing win against a playoff-contending Kings franchise. This win says a lot about the Clippers’ depth and versatility.
Assists: The Clippers had 35 assists on 42 made field goals, tying their season high. Four players logged at least five assists: Williams (10), Beverley (8), Bradley (6) and Gilgeous-Alexander (5). For Williams, the performance marked his second consecutive 10 assist game.
Rebounds: One of the things the Clippers absolutely had to do to beat the Kings was rebound the basketball. They did that, out-rebounding the Kings 52 to 44. The Clippers are now 12-2 when they’ve secured 50+ rebounds.
Points in the Paint / Fast Break Points: The Clippers outscored the Kings in the paint by a significant margin, 56-44. Notably, they also outscored the Kings in fast break points, 22-20.
Turnovers: One aspect of the game the Clippers continue to struggle with is turnovers. They had 18 turnovers in Sunday’s battle. Against a better franchise, such sloppiness may have cost them the game.
The Clippers next face the Atlanta Hawks at home on Monday, January 28, 2019. Tip off is 7:30 pm.