Despite some rocky stretches, the Clippers pulled away from the Knicks in the 4th quarter behind a dominant outing from Kawhi Leonard.


Neither team played all that well to start the game, but the Clippers were a bit better, and go out to an early lead behind two Marcus Morris threes. The Knicks did no better after an early timeout, and the Clippers inched their way to a 16-6 advantage with around 4:30 to go in the opening frame, even though they were plagued by a couple bad giveaways. At that point, the bench started trickling in, and the wheels came off. The offense was mired in turnovers and missed jumpers, and the Knicks got going in transition. Thus, at the end of one, the Clippers’ lead was just 20-19.

George started the 2nd half in place of Kawhi, and immediately scored with a couple buckets. Eric Gordon hit a deep 3, and PG canned yet another triple, but the Knicks continued to hang around, as the Clippers’ defense was not effective as it had been early. The starters slowly trickled back in, with Russ and Morris replacing Terance and Nico, Kawhi for Gordon, and then Zu for Plumlee. The Knicks grabbed a one-point advantage, but the Clippers regained the lead after several minutes of extremely ugly and sloppy play on both sides. George continued to hit shots, but was the only Clipper who could do so, and a late Morris foul on a Julius Randle three gave the Knicks a two-point lead entering halftime.

The game opened up after the break, with much more up-and-down the court action. Despite an epic Kawhi spurt, scoring nine points in just over four minutes, the Clippers’ led by just one. That lead was soon gone, as the two teams seesawed throughout the period, with the Knicks mostly holding on to one or two point leads. The Knicks dominated the offensive glass, but could not hit water if they were in a boat in the middle of the ocean, while the Clippers’ role players could not join their stars in providing any production. Still, a dreadful end to the half by Julius Randle gave the Clippers three free throws, making up for his own FTs at the end of the second quarter, and pushed the Clips to a 76-74 lead.

The Clippers got off a quick 6-0 run to start the 4th, giving them an eight-point lead, and the Knicks never recovered. The Clippers closed the game with a Gordon-PG-Kawhi-Morris-Zu unit that played fine, with the offense carried mostly by Leonard. The Knicks could never make a real run, hampered by awful shooting from their entire team and especially Randle. There were moments where it seemed like it might be interesting, but it never was, and the Clippers won 106-95.


No Russ to Close: Russell Westbrook has not played in either of the last two games after being taken out in the mid-3rd quarter. In today’s game, he was a +1 in 23 minutes in a game the Clippers won by 11, scoring seven points on eight shots with three turnovers to three assists. His defense was also bad. Ty being willing to not close with Russ – or play him big minutes – is great, but it’s unclear why Russ continues to start when it’s apparent how important spacing is around Kawhi and PG, and Zu’s importance defensively. Russ has some use as a bench player carrying non-Kawhi units, but continuing to start him is frankly just not a good decision. It doesn’t seem like the Clippers are going away from him as a starter – Ty’s comments seem to indicate this is a unit that will close the rest of the year.

Decent Win: Much like the Raptors’ victory, I’d classify this one as a solid dub for the Clippers. Yes, Brunson was out, but the Knicks played hard and still have talent. The Clippers getting a pretty decisive win over them – and without any 4th quarter disaster jobs – is nice. They were hugely carried by Kawhi and Paul George, but that’s what stars are supposed to do. There are issues with the Clippers, but the ship has been somewhat righted.


In honor of the Lob the Jam the Pod, 213 Hoops writer Kenneth started doing medals when the Clippers’ win, and I think it’s a capital idea.

Gold Medal – Kawhi Leonard: 38 points on 22 shots with consistent dominance across the game, and just a single turnover. Kawhi was a superstar, as he has been since January, and that makes the Clippers’ overall mediocrity that much more frustrating.

Silver Medal – Paul George: 22 points on 21 shots with eight rebounds and eight assists and some great defense is easily enough for the Clippers’ second star. It wasn’t an efficient scoring night from PG, but he helped keep the Clippers attached in the second period and did everything else.

Bronze Medal – Eric Gordon: This one was a lot tougher, and could have gone to Ivica Zubac, Mason Plumlee, or Marcus Morris as well. Ultimately, I thought Gordon ran the offense well as the “point guard”, played mostly solid defense, and helped stretch the floor with his shooting. I don’t love him closing games consistently, but he’s a better fit with Kawhi and PG than Russ, and it’s nice that Ty is willing to go to that rotation.

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