The Los Angeles Clippers entered Wednesday’s game the hottest team in the NBA, and kept that fire going, with a last-second 100-98 win against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.
The Clippers have found success while dealing with injuries and rest nights for Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and other veterans, and even after going down 11 points in the 4th quarter, they dug deep and didn’t give up, while the Pistons folded like a house of cards down the stretch. Reggie Jackson tallied a season-high 29 points and hit the game-winner for the Clippers, in his return to the city where he made his name in the NBA.
Clippers head coach Ty Lue, missing most of his starters, started Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Patrick Patterson and Ivica Zubac in the Motor City.
The teams were pretty even in the opening frame, with the narrow lead seesawing back and forth, the Clippers finishing with a slight edge, 30-27, Zubac and Jackson carrying the load in the opening minutes, with 21 points between them.
It was very much the same in the 2nd quarter, with the Clippers maintaining their lead but not by much, both teams looking pretty disjointed overall. They went into the locker rooms at halftime with LA leading 53-49, Zubac on 16 points and Jackson and Kennard each tallying 11 in the 1st half.
But it was very much a team effort with no stars around for this game.
Relentless.@coffeyshop_ with the refill. pic.twitter.com/CVioLqVOWU— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 15, 2021
Detroit came on in the 3rd quarter and while they didn’t blow the game open, they grabbed a small lead, with Mason Plumlee and Jerami Grant really taking off for the home team.
With the Clippers struggling to score, the Pistons found some daylight, up 77-69 in the dying seconds of the quarter, before Nicolas Batum hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer and was fouled by Grant. Batum notched the free throw to cut the deficit in half, down 77-73 with 12 minutes to play.
Batum came up big again a couple minutes into the 4th quarter, as he hit another timely 3-pointer with the Clippers running out of time on the shot clock and in need of a bucket.
Très bien! @RajonRondo ➡️ @nicolas88batum pic.twitter.com/nn0NbInWaC— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 15, 2021
But the Pistons started to pull ahead and LA couldn’t get their shots to fall, and it looked like their winning streak was ending.
Credit to the Clippers for not giving up, as a putback from Zubac gave LA a chance of picking up a win, being down 96-93 with 57 seconds to play. They went down five points but tied up the game with 19 seconds to go, courtesy of a Mann slam and Jackson 3-pointer off a steal.
Amir Coffey forced a steal on the next possession, and the Clippers had a chance to win the game with 15.4 seconds left. Jackson had the shot and he buried a long 2 to get the 100-98 lead, and Killian Hayes’ 3-pointer at the buzzer missed the mark, the Clippers improbably escaping Detroit with another win.
Here's how Clippers-Pistons ended. pic.twitter.com/HxhxeRj2Vv— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) April 15, 2021
The Clippers will have a travel day on Thursday, before they take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday in Philly. They’ll meet former coach Doc Rivers, now in charge of the Sixers, again this season and after a pretty favorable schedule lately for LA, this game is likely to be a much stiffer test.