The Clippers got their mojo back for one night, playing exceptional offensive basketball to take down the Bulls 126-111 in a great road win.

Summary

The Clippers got off to a bit of a slow start in the very early going, falling down 5-0. However, they went on an 11-0 run, powered by two Bones Hyland steals and solid overall defense. Norm came in for Bones early after Bones picked up two fouls, but the Clippers defense remained airtight, resulting in a 28-14 lead with 3:07 to go. Unfortunately three shots from deep by Torrey Craig kept the Bulls attached despite Kawhi (6-7 for 12 points) and PG (6-6 for 15 points) scorching the nets, and the Clips led 37-26 after one.

The Clippers started the 2nd with a Bones-Norm-Boston-Amir-Theis unit. Shockingly, the Bulls did not go on an immediate huge run. Instead, an 8-3 run actually had the Clippers up by 16 at one point. The starters slowly trickled back in as the bench stopped playing quite so well, with the starting unit full in at 6:15 and the lead back at 11. Jevon Carter had a stretch where he cooked, but the Clippers were able to answer each time, and maintained that 11-point lead heading into halftime.

The Clippers came out of halftime with a purpose, running their offense to a T. They spread the Bulls out in pick and roll and dished to shooters, or to Zu in the short roll – who then found shooters. The Bulls were able to keep up with some shotmaking of their own, but the Clippers’ offense was on a roll, and they got the lead to 90-74 with four minutes to go before Ty made a sub. When the bench came in, the offense ran dry, with the Clippers scoring just two points those last minutes. Fortunately, the Bulls were cold as well, and the Clippers led 92-80 going into the fourth.

The 4th quarter did not start auspiciously, with a Norm-Amir-Mann-PG-Theis unit lacking much cohesion on either end. Back to back DeMar threes got the lead down to eight, and Ty returned with Bones in place of Mann. The offense, now with more spacing and handling, got right back into rhythm, and the Clippers quickly pushed the lead into double figures. The Bulls hung around for much of the middle of the period largely due to dominance inside with Drummond and Vuc, but the Clippers’ shotmaking was too much, and the Clippers’ lead of 18 with around three to go led to both coaches clearing their benches.

Notes

213 Show Up: With James Harden sitting out for the first time in his Clippers’ tenure, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George took over like they used to in the early 213 era, to spectacular results. George looked effortless scoring the ball, as he does on his best days, scoring 28 points on an insane 11-12 shooting (6-7) from three. Kawhi methodically got to his spots, and while he had a couple bad turnovers, had great and mostly early passes out of double teams that led to swing-swing plays and open Clippers threes. This was the Clippers’ superstar duo as was imagined nearly five years ago, complete with mostly very good defensive performances, and it was beautiful to watch.

Bones Gets Bizzy: For as great as Kawhi and PG were, the best stat line of the game might belong to Bones Hyland, starting for the first time since very early in the year and absolutely thriving. Bones had 17 points on 6-9 shooting in 32 minutes, with the low attempts (for Bones) almost as notable as the efficiency. He had 11 assists to 1 turnover, mixing in solid swing passes with some truly brilliant dimes, and just made the right play nearly every possession. Not only that, but Bones chipped in 5 rebounds and 4 steals, showcasing his ability to make defensive plays despite his fouling and slight physical stature. It was a phenomenal showing, and while Bones won’t always play this well, this – quick decisions, shooting open shots off the catch, moving without the ball – is how he needs to play.

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