Technically, it was only a revenge game for Nic Batum, but the entire Clippers roster acted like they had a personal vendetta against the Hornets Saturday. They went up double digits in the first quarter and maintained that advantage for the remainder of the game in a 125-98 win.
The Clippers were still without Serge Ibaka and Patrick Beverley, but rather than tighten their rotation to a playoff setting like they did against Dallas, LA went a little deeper, and that depth shined.
Reggie Jackson got the proceedings started with seven first-quarter points, including one end-to-end bucket as Jackson demonstrated his ability to get out in transition. Terance Mann had some nice energy off the bench, getting his own bucket on the break as he finished with a season-high 16 points, and the Clippers even dusted off Patrick Patterson in the first half. “Just Add Water” immediately scored on a pick-and-roll with Paul George and gave LA 12 solid minutes.
The true star off the bench was Lou Williams. He’s been a bit hot and cold, but the sixth man had 15 points as he led the Clippers with six free throws.
The Clippers shot well from the floor, including over 70 percent of their shots in the first quarter, but the goal of the game was to keep their defensive intensity high. After Marcus Morris Sr. made a three early, Dan Craig was up off the bench imploring the team to get back in transition, waving his arms like a traffic controller.
Batum had a perfectly fine outing against his former team of the last five seasons, finishing with 11 points and a team-high five rebounds. Batum raised some eyebrows when he said he found out he was waived by Charlotte on Twitter, but he and the Hornets were professional throughout.
Paul George was also excellent for the second straight game, perhaps finally rounding into form after his return from the bone edema. He had a game-high 21 points on 14 shot attempts and even earned a foul shot on a drive to the rim.
LA ended with seven players in double figures and were perfect from the free-throw line for the third time this season on 23 attempts. As Ty Lue said pregame, the Clippers are never worried about their ability to score, they just need to bring the same effort defensively. They did that Saturday, and emerged with an easy win.