The Clippers came into Charlotte with a very large margin of error against the Hornets. The home team was missing Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges, leaving Charlotte without the necessary offensive firepower to compete with a Clippers team at its best.
For the first half, L.A. fell short of that ideal. But once the floodgates opened, the Clippers couldn’t miss. They made 21 3-pointers, passing 20 for the eighth time in franchise history and the fourth time this season, en route to a 113-90 win.
Five Clippers scored in double figures, led by best buds Paul George and Reggie Jackson with 20 and 19 apiece. It got so out of hand by the end that L.A. was able to close with a lineup of Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, Yogi Ferrell, Daniel Oturu, and Jay Scrubb, who scored the first points of his NBA career.
The Clippers got off to a somewhat slow start, falling behind 6-0 in the first two and a half minutes. Their fortunes quickly turned for the better, and they finished the period shooting 11-of-22 from the field. Seven of those makes came from 3-point range, as L.A. had five more triples than the home team to build an eight-point lead.
The team then proceeded to undo all that good work in the second quarter. The George + bench lineups once again struggled to score to start the period. Ty Lue has been trying George, Rajon Rondo, Nic Batum, Jackson, and a big (currently DeMarcus Cousins, but presumably Serge Ibaka soon enough), but that group seems to lack the dynamism that Mann provides.
The Clippers were also just throwing the ball all over the building. Charlotte went into a zone, which helped throw the Clippers out of their rhythm, but turnovers have been a regular issue for L.A. over the past few weeks. Stagnation combined with six turnovers resulted in a 13-point quarter for the Clippers. Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr. each ended the half with 10 points, but they were the lone double-digit scorers for the road team.
The poor effort carried into the second half on the defensive end. The Clippers got back-cut a few times, but it really didn’t matter because their offense flipped a switch. They hit 13-of-14 shots in the third quarter, and Rajon Rondo incredibly continued a streak of seven consecutive made 3-pointers in the process. A three-point halftime deficit became seven-point lead heading into the fourth. L.A. was up by at least 10 for the final 11 minutes.
What looked like a nervy effort for the first half ended up being a comfortable victory. The Clippers were able to stay in the third seed and get some necessary rest heading into Houston tomorrow.