Clippers forward Tobias Harris has put together an All-Star caliber season, but questions about whether or not Harris can be a go-to fourth quarter weapon have diminished, at times, what has been a remarkable four months
On Tuesday night, as the short-handed Clippers entered the heart of their annual Grammy road trip, Harris hoisted the team on his back down the stretch and led the Clippers to a 117-115 victory over the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center.
The victory was seemingly improbable. The Clippers (30-25) overcame yet another 20-point deficit in the second half as well as a scorching first half from All-Star starter Kemba Walker and the absence of Danilo Gallinari for the 10th game in a row due to low back spasms.
Then again, this is the same team that overcame a 25-point, second-half deficit in Detroit on Saturday and has shown the kind of blue-collar moxy that has made them infectious all season.
Harris finished with a game-high 34 points and seven rebounds, while probable Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, who struggled to have an impact in the first two and a half quarters, went ballistic, scoring 22 of his 31 points in the second half, including 15 in a row at one point.
But it was hardly just Williams and Harris who contributed to the second 20-point comeback in four days. Harrell, who had 16 points, including five dunks, and 10 boards, was typically outstanding. And they got tremendous minutes from Mike Scott, who kickstarted a 16-4 run to close the third quarter with a 3-pointer from the left wing, and who canned a tying 3-pointer from the opposite side with 3:58 left in the game.
Scott went 3-of-4 from distance in the game, while Harris and Williams combined to go 11-for-13. The Clippers were 18-for-24 (75 percent) overall, marking the second best shooting performance from 3-point range in NBA history with a minimum of 18 makes. The only other instance in which a team hit at least 18 3-pointers and made at least 75 percent occurred on Dec. 28, 2018 when the Clippers made 18-of-23 (78.9 percent) in a loss to the Warriors.
Early on, while the 3-pointers were falling, not much else was working. Walker scored 25 of his 32 points in the first half, including a brilliant stretch in the second quarter that included a 4-point play. The Clippers defense, however, trapped him more often in the second half and while the Hornets (26-27) were getting decent looks at times, a scrambling, small-ish Clippers lineup closed ground in a hurry. Once Walker started deferring, the Clippers earned stops, and when the game got tight late, Harris turned in his best fourth quarter of the season.
He scored seven of the final nine points for the Clippers, dropping a 3-pointer with 2:46 left to gain a 111-110 lead and answering a Nicolas Batum 3-pointer a possession later as he put his head down and got to the rim. Finally, after a pair of Marvin Williams foul shots tied the game at 115, Harris allowed the clock to wind down before driving against Walker and twisting to nail a runner over the smaller defender with 4.3 seconds to go. Harrell would force a flailing 3-pointer from Marvin Williams that fell meekly at the buzzer.
Still, falling behind by double-digits, undergoing what amounts to body transfer after a sluggish quarter and a half, and relying on record-setting 3-point accuracy is not sustainable. But the fun thing about the Clippers through 55 games, they seem to find a way, sustainability be damned.
Future Hall of Famer Tony Parker left the game with a back strain and did not return for the Hornets… The Clippers had four players score 15 points or more… Patrick Beverley had 15 points and six boards… The victory gave them a season sweep of the Hornets… The Clippers are 0.5 games behind the Jazz for seventh in the West and 2.5 games ahead of the Lakers and one game ahead of the Kings...
THEY GOT NEXT
The Clippers’ road trip surpasses the midway point in Indiana as the Clippers head north to face off against the Pacers on Thursday. It’s the first time the teams have met this season, and while the Pacers (35-19) will be without All-Star Victor Oladipo (knee) for the remainder of 2018-19, they still have put together three-straight wins, including an annihilation of the hapless Lakers on Tuesday, 136-94.