With the Clippers already set to play the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Play-In Tournament, the results of tonight’s game would not have changed anything for this team.
Still, something was on the line — although not as important as a spot in the Playoffs — a winning record. A win against the Kings meant that the Clippers secure their 41st win and become a plus .500 team, a feat they’ve accomplished every season since 2011.
And they’ve done just that tonight, beating the Kings 117-98.
Paul George came out firing on all cylinders to start the game: he capitalized off four of five three-pointer attempts (he was 13-of-21 coming into tonight’s game).
As the defenses started crowding George, he found other ways to help the team win, utilizing Zubac off the screen or finding open shooters behind the arc. And so did his teammates, the Clippers wholeheartedly embraced Tyronn Lue’s “give up the good shot for the better shot” mantra — through crisp passes they broke down Sacramento’s defense.
While momentary struggles did trouble the Clippers going into and getting out of halftime, the team quickly re-gained separation and continued to dominate until the final buzzer.
All 12 players who saw the floor made an impact. George stayed hot throughout the game, leading the Clippers with his elite scoring and play-making prowess. We saw him throwing an acrobatic kick-out pass for a Powell three-pointer (he made all four of his first three-pointers). And whether it’d be a hustling Nicolas Batum or a Reggie Jackson consistently finding the bottom of the net from mid-range, the Clippers were a handful for the Kings to handle.
Six players were in double figures tonight with George leading the pack with 23 points, 12 assists, and 8 rebounds. The Clippers will ride on adrenaline as they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder at a shot at concluding the season with an exclamation mark.