The Clippers give up a late game comeback to the Bulls, and fall in overtime, 135-130.
Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson both started hot tonight (which were particularly encouraging signs after last game’s more subdued performances). They finished the first quarter with ten, on 4-for-5 shooting from the field, and eight points, on 3-for-4 shooting from the field, respectively.
They were joined by Paul George, whose continued aggression was rewarded with seven first quarter points of his own. The Clippers simply play like a more complete team, with George on the floor. Even when he has substandard shooting nights, his ability to impact the game in a multitude of other facets, his on-court gravity and offensive generation unlocked the Clippers offense. In short, his impact far exceeds the (still impressive) 22 points, three steals, and five assists that the box score indicates.
As has often gone, this season, the Clippers play followed that of Reggie Jackson. Jackson led the Clippers in scoring, with 34 points and seven assists. They may have lost tonight, but the Clippers played like a formidable team, on both ends of the floor.
The on-court leadership of George, improved defensive rebounding, and coupled with good old-fashioned shot-making, led the Clippers to a 59-50 lead at halftime.
And once again, it was the defense that served as the foundation for the Clippers game plan tonight. The Clippers defense opens up their offense, and that basketball phenomenon was on full display again, tonight.
Demar DerRozan led all scorers tonight, with 50 points on 65.3% shooting. It was a masterful game by one of the league’s premier scorers, especially through the waning moments of the fourth quarter and overtime. He was joined by Nikola Vucevic, who tallied 22 points and 14 rebounds, tonight.
Bulls launched a comeback attempt of their own to start the fourth quarter. After a back-and-forth fourth quarter, they whittled the deficit down to just three points, with less than two minutes left in the game. It took a shooting foul on a three point attempt, and the conversion of those three free throws, to send the game to overtime.
And a couple of back-and-forth minutes, the Clippers found themselves on the wrong end of a four-point deficit. A couple of missed shots, a couple of errant fouls, and a couple of missed rebounds in the fourth quarter, and the game could have ended very differently.
Still, for a team building towards the post-season, the Clippers displayed a number of budding, good habits, tonight.