In a tale of two halves, the Clippers end the game the right way and beat the Detroit Pistons 106-102 tonight.
The first half, especially offensively, was easily forgettable. Los Angeles combined to shoot 31.7% from the field and just 13.3% from deep while Detroit managed 43.9% from the field and 41.2% from three point range. The result? The Clippers trailing the Pistons 53-39.
Marcus Morris Sr., the only bright spot for the Clippers offensively, was joined by Cade Cunningham as the only players on their teams who scored in the double digits during the first half. Morris Sr. continued this play in the second and ultimately finished with 31 points, as well as a game-icing step-back fadeaway and some free throws to close out the game.
And once again, it was the defense, and the offense that it sparked, that allowed the Clippers to make the game competitive again, in the third.
And after a bit of a back and forth play early in the fourth quarter, a Terance Mann midrange jumper tied the game 80-80, with nine minutes to go in the game. And after a Luke Kennard triple, the Clippers took the lead for the first time since it was 2-0 and after trailing by as many as 18.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Ivica Zubac, especially in the third quarter, showed why he’s the most talented big on the floor. Registering 14 points and 15 rebounds tonight, his presence altering shots in the paint and limiting the Pistons to just one shot per possession were crucial in tonight’s comeback.
He was joined by the ex-Pistons, Kennard and Reggie Jackson, who proved that they are as easily combustible as ever. The former finished with 16 points and the latter finished with 15 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds, as well as a crucial three-pointer to extend a one point lead to four, with just under two minutes left.
If it was the Clippers defense that helped them avoid a loss, it was late game offense that once again let the Clippers leave the arena with a win.
Los Angeles, who scored in 15-of-19 shots in the fourth quarter, showed the resilience that has become a critical part of their on-court identity. Another 20-something point turnaround. Another comeback win. Another masterful offensive performance in the clutch. Classic Clippers.