Game #3 | November 1, 2013
Sleep Train Arena | Sacramento, CA
SACRAMENTO – There was no question, Friday’s second game of a back-to-back would be a challenge for the Clippers.
They just may not have known how much so.
After spurting to a 15-point lead in the third quarter, the Clippers withstood a furious rally by the upstart Kings and held on to win 110-101 at Sleep Train Arena.
A parade of free throws in the final quarter helped seal the game as Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin converted the Clippers’ final 15 foul shots to keep the Kings (1-1) at bay.
“We’re learning to close out games late in the fourth,” said Jordan, who went 4-for-6 from the foul line and finished with eight points and rebounds in 31:03. “We’re learning it’s going to be a grind. Some of these games, they’re taking away our fast-break opportunities and we’re having to score in the half court, which is good for us later on the season and whenever Playoffs come.”
Griffin finished with 20 points, 17 rebounds and six assists for his second 20-point, 10-rebound effort in a row. Paul had 26 points and 10 assists. It was Paul’s third-straight double-double. Jamal Crawford had 18 points off the bench, including three shots from beyond the arc that pushed him ahead of Tim Hardaway for No. 16 on the all-time list of 3-point makes.
The Clippers (2-1) built a lead a large as 15 points in the early stages of the third quarter, when they scored on five of their first seven possessions out of the halftime break. Griffin dished out three of his assists in that stretch.
But the Kings rallied behind diminutive point guard Isaiah Thomas, who scored 17 of his game-high 29 points in the second half. But after the Kings took a 92-90 lead on Jason Thompson dunk, the Clippers regained control. Paul made a daring 3-pointer, using an inside-out dribble to free himself from Thompson with the shot clock winding down and tossed an over-the-shoulder alley-oop to Jordan before the parade of free throws began.
The Clippers went 28-of-34 from the line, a night after attempting 50 foul shots on their home floor. They also lived in foul trouble themselves, aiding the Kings’ second-half comeback. Jordan picked up his fourth foul at the 7:06 mark of the third and did not return until nearly 12 minutes of game time had ticked away. He played the final four minutes with five fouls.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said, “D.J. (Jordan) gets in foul trouble and I just told [Blake] there’s no rest coming. He played 16 or 17 straight minutes. That was huge for us. Rebounding, I thought tonight was the difference in the game.”
They were also able to get stops when they mattered most. They held the Kings to four points in the final 3:36.
“We had a similar situation in the opener, so for us to not get frustrated and withstand the run, and play our defense is huge,” Griffin said, referring to the Lakers’ 41-point fourth quarter that tilted the game on Tuesday.
The game in Sacramento was the third time in four nights the Clippers have been a part of emotionally charged games with Pacific Division opponents. They lost to the Lakers prior to beating the Golden State Warriors on Thursday’s home opener.
“The three games we’ve had all felt like playoff games with the crowds and just how the intensity is and the atmosphere,” Jordan said.” It’s been great. We can only build from this.”
The Kings were playing their second home game since it was officially announced they were staying in California’s capital. And while the arena was not the raucous environment from two nights earlier, there was palpable energy, or spite for the visiting Clippers, in the building.
They waved purple glow sticks, chanted “Beat L-A” on several occasions in the second half and the in-arena music was at times deafening. It certainly felt like a Playoff-type atmosphere, as Jordan alluded to.
And Rivers thinks it will benefit the Clippers in the long run.
“We’re going to get them all year. I went through this once,” he said. “I’m telling you, when people think you’ve got a shot at it, everybody wants to knock you off. That’s just the way it’s going to be and at the end of the day, that will be good for us.”
The Clippers have won 10 of the last 12 meetings against the Kings, including the last two at Sleep Train Arena… Paul recorded 11 steals in the first two games but did not record a single steal against the Kings in 36 minutes… The Clippers are averaging 113 points per game… Griffin has 92 career 20-10 games. He’s one behind Dwight Howard for the most in the NBA since 2010-11… Jordan was intentionally fouled twice and went 2-for-4 on those trips to the line… DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 10 rebounds, but was hit with a costly technical foul that led a Redick free throw in the final two minutes… The Clippers had 26 assists on 35 field goals… They shot 12-for-24 from 3-point range…
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on his overall impression of Friday’s game:
“It was a track meet. It was physical too so it had a little bit of everything. I’m really proud of our guys. You know every time we got a lead in the first half they fought back and cut it to one or two. They did it again. I think they actually took the lead once in the fourth quarter. We made some big plays I thought that Jamal [Crawford’s] 3-pointer out of the timeout was huge.”
Clippers point guard Chris Paul on the progress the Clippers have made in the first three games:
“The past couple of games we’ve played our defense and everybody in here knows what that means and I think it’s working. We’ve still got a ways to go but we’re building.”
Kings head coach Mike Malone on the third quarter when the Clippers extended their lead to 15 points:
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan on foul shooting:
“Doc is definitely a good motivator. He told me before he doesn’t care if I shoot it over the backboard as long as I try to make one out of two and then come down and help us get a stop. When somebody tells you that, the pressure of going to the free-throw line [goes away]. You’re not really putting that much pressure on yourself, you’re just out there playing and it makes it a lot better.”
SACRAMENTO – The schedule does not get any easier for the Clippers.
Less than 24 hours after an emotional, high-scoring win over the Golden State Warriors, the Clippers flew north to take on the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on Friday in the first back-to-back of the season.
“Back-to-backs are always tough, but we’ll be ready,” Clippers center DeAndre Jordan said. “We’re a pretty young team. That’s why everybody’s job is to just be ready. We’ll execute our game plan in Sacramento and try to win the next game.”
The Kings (1-0) are coming off an emotional home game of their own. After two seasons of doubt about whether or not the team would return to Sacramento, their season-opening win Wednesday marked the first regular-season game since a deal was finalized by Mayor Kevin Johnson to keep the team in the California capital.
For the Clippers (1-1), entering one of the more formidable road environments will be a challenge.
“We have to generate our own energy,” Jamal Crawford said. “That crowd will be fired up. They beat us twice in preseason so I’m sure they’ll remember that.”
Ryan Hollins said, “They’re a much improved team. They’re young. They play together. They’ve got a chip on their shoulder and they’re definitely going to bring their ‘A’ game against us.”
Jamal Crawford vs. Isaiah Thomas
The Seattle natives workout together in the Pacific Northwest during the summer and have been active participants in the annual Seattle Pro Am that Crawford hosts at Seattle University. But Friday, their friendship will be put aside as both the Clippers and Kings have relied on Crawford and Thomas, respectively, as primary scoring options off the bench in the early stages of the season.
Crawford, who for the past five seasons has been one of the league’s most dangerous scorers off the bench, is averaging 16 points in the Clippers’ first two games, including scoring 10 of his 17 in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s over Golden State. After several starters played heavy minutes, Crawford could be particularly useful in the second game of the Clippers’ first back-to-back. He seemingly has a knack for getting the job done in Sacramento as well. He had 24 points in the Clippers’ finale last season and put together his best game of the preseason at Sleep Train Arena as well. As for Thomas, the diminutive point guard was fearless off the bench in Sacramento’s opener Wednesday. He had 16 points and five assists and went 3-for-4 from 3-point range. He spent a lot of time on the floor alongside starter Greivis Vasquez, who had 17 points in the game.
THINGS TO WATCH
1. Double the point. A night after Chris Paul went off for an historic 42 points and 15 assists, he faces off against Vasquez. But with Thomas coming off the bench for Sacramento to play with Vasquez, Friday may be the first time this regular season Clippers head coach Doc Rivers uses a lineup that features both Paul and speedy reserve Darren Collison. After a sparkling preseason Collison, who was nursing a bruised left kneecap a week ago, has yet to get on track. He’s scored just nine points in two games. However, some extended run against Sacramento may help.
2. The painted area. Rivers has talked about the Kings being problematic for the Clippers because they have a lot of length inside. Obviously, that starts with DeMarcus Cousins, who went for 30 points and 14 rebounds. He was in the pivot more under new coach Michael Malone than he was a year ago and it helped Cousins thrive. According Synergy Sports, Cousins received the ball in the post on 17 possessions and took 14 of his 26 shots. He scored 20 of his 30 points in the paint against Denver. The matchup with the Clippers inside will be intriguing. Last season, the Clippers allowed the second fewest paint points in the NBA (37.2 per game), while Sacramento was amongst the top five scoring teams in the paint.
The Clippers are 4-2 in Sacramento in the last two seasons and are 9-2 overall against the Kings in that span… Sacramento beat the Clippers twice in the preseason… The Clippers have won both ends of the back-to-back two straight times, including finishing off last season in Sacramento on the back end of one… Crawford is one 3-pointer away from tying Tim Hardaway for 16th all-time…
THEY SAID IT
Doc Rivers: “Nobody does anything drastic in basketball, if there is I want to do what they’re doing. There’s some stuff I’m doing different and that I’m asking for. It just takes time. Listen, just because we’ve been together two years, we didn’t advance last year, so clearly we had to get better somewhere.”
COMING AND GOING
LAST TIME OUT