Entering today’s matchup, the LA Clippers had won 9 of their last 10 outings and were riding a 4-game win streak. They’ve been playing their best basketball as of late, aptly timed as the postseason looms on the horizon. The NBA’s Western Conference standings continue to remain as tight as ever, with a mere 4 games separating 3rd and 8th place in the West.
Since acquiring Landry Shamet, Ivica Zubac, JaMychal Green, and Garrett Temple following the trade deadline, and inserting them into their rotation, the Clippers had gone 13-4 prior to today’s game. During that span, they’ve possessed the highest winning percentage in the entire NBA (.765%). They have also sported the league’s 5th-highest Offensive Rating and 8th-highest Net Rating during the same stretch. And the Clippers have been doing it all with a starting unit featuring 3 players - Shamet, Zubac, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - who are 21 years of age or younger (and both Shamet and Gilgeous-Alexander are just rookies).
In the midst of a 4-game road trip, mostly against lottery-bound teams, the Clippers have done their best to remain hyper-focused. Despite some close calls in their last matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and despite some close calls down the stretch against the New York Knicks today, the Clippers prevailed. And they now sit at 5th place in the West, amidst a 5-game win streak.
The Clippers finished with the six players in double figures, led by Lou Williams (29 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals while shooting 45.0% from the field and 71.4% from beyond the arc). Danilo Gallinari (26 points, 8 rebounds), Montrezl Harrell (24 points, 4 rebounds), Patrick Beverley (12 points, 3 rebounds), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (10 points, 8 assists), and Ivica Zubac (10 points, 10 rebounds) rounded out the double-digit scoring effort for the Clippers.
The Knicks, now 14-60 on the season, hold the league’s worst record and could finish with a franchise record in losses. Years of mismanagement and poor ownership have got them to this point, but oddly enough, the future looks brighter than it has in very long time. They’ll be hitting the offseason armed with tons of salary cap space, in the league’s largest market, with a solid shot at acquiring the 1st-overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft — one that will be headlined by generational talent, Zion Williamson. The Knicks could quickly become a top destination on every free agent’s list, but for now, they’ve simply been looking to finish the season leaving some sort of favorable impression upon free agents. This summer, they’ll be competing against their own cross-town rival Brooklyn Nets as well as both Los Angeles franchises in the free agency extravaganza which is expected to ensue.
Like the Clippers, the Knicks also finished the game with 6 players in double figures. Emmanuel Mudiay led the way for the Knicks with 26 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds on 52.6% shooting from the field. And as usual, former-Clipper DeAndre Jordan was a major factor at both ends of the floor, putting up 20 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks while shooting 70.0% from the field and 85.7% from the free throw line (on 7 attempts). Rounding out their double-digit scoring effort were Damyean Dotson (18 points, 3 rebounds), Kadeem Allen (16 points, 4 rebounds), Lance Thomas (12 points, 3 rebounds), and Kevin Knox (11 points).
- Kevin Knox exited the game and did not return following an ankle sprain suffered during the Knicks’ second-to-last possession of the first half.
- Landry Shamet, who has been a very integral part of the Clippers’ rotation offensively, suffered what appeared to be an ankle sprain just over a minute into the second half of the game. He did not return following the injury.
- The Clippers were out-rebounded 44-42 and shot just 44.2% from the field (versus the Knicks’ 47.7%), but did enough damage at the free throw line, where they made 33 out of 37 attempts (89.2%), to give themselves a significant advantage.
- The Clippers are now 14-4 since inserting their trade deadline acquisitions into their rotation back on February 9th against the Boston Celtics. They have the league’s best win percentage during that span, and will look to keep the momentum going against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
Be sure to check out the Knicks perspective over at Posting and Toasting.