For three and a half quarters, the Clippers were in a back and forth game with the visiting Charlotte Hornets with neither team being able to gain much of an advantage.

But after a flagrant foul was called on Kelly Oubre Jr. about midway through the fourth quarter that led to pair of Ivica Zubac free-throws, the Clippers would use a 22-0 run to effectively put the game away.

Game Summary

Slow starts have been a problem for the Clippers this season and while initially matching the Hornets’ energy, they found themselves down 32-19 through with about three and a half minutes to go in the opening quarter.

As has been the case when the starters have struggled this season, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue brought in the second unit powered by Terance Mann and Luke Kennard, and he found the answers he was looking for.

Mann’s aggressiveness and Kennard’s three-point shooting helped close the gap to 39-31 heading into the second quarter.

The Clippers also got a strong boost from Isaiah Hartenstein who had eight points in the second quarter including a pair of dunks. While Paul George’s shot wasn’t quite there in the first half, he hit a few jumpers late in the second quarter to help keep Charlotte at bay and the half was capped off by a Mann buzzer-beating halfcourt three to give the Clippers a 61-58 lead at intermission.

The beginning of the second half saw the Clippers continue to play well offensively and a Mann three-pointer at the five-minute mark pushed the Clippers lead to 77-70. Mann’s offensive aggressiveness overall was key for the Clippers in the third quarter as he had a couple of drives to the rim and knocked in a three-point shot to steady the Clippers offensive attack.

The fourth quarter saw the Hornets regain some offensive control. Miles Bridges finished a lob that tied the game at 89 and then an Oubre free-throw gave Charlotte a 90-89 lead. That free-throw started an 11-4 run capped off by a Terry Rozier three-point shot that gave the Hornets a 102-93 lead with seven minutes to go in the game.

That three ended being the last points the Hornets would score until very late in the fourth quarter. Zubac was fouled by Oubre under the basket that ended up being ruled a flagrant foul. His free-throws started the 22-0 run that didn’t end until Miles Bridges hit a layup with 1:09 left in the game.

George hit a few jumpers during the run, Kennard was on point from three-point range, and Reggie Jackson seemingly has broken out of his shooting slump as he contributed eight points in that span. While the game was in doubt midway through the quarter, that huge run gave the Clippers complete control of the game and effectively ended Charlotte’s hopes.

Notes

  • Serge Ibaka made his long-anticipated season debut as he continued to rehab from back surgery from last season. He didn’t have too much of an effect right away finishing with only a single rebound and five fouls. But he did have one of the highlights of the night when he blocked a Cody Martin dunk attempt that was initially called a foul. Lue challenged the call and was successful.
  • Ivica Zubac had one of his best games of the season. He was active from the beginning of the game and was aggressive looking to score. He did a solid job getting himself to the free-throw line where he finished a perfect 8-8. He ended the game with 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots. This is the kind of production the Clippers will need from Zubac moving forward.
  • Turnovers are still a major issue. The Clippers coughed up the ball 20 times that led to 30 points for the Hornets. They settled down and took better care of the ball later in the second half, and it could’ve been worse. The Hornets are a team that looks to push the ball in transition and that type of carelessness fed right into Charlotte’s hands. Fortunately for the Clippers, it didn’t end up hurting them too much in the long run.
  • Slow starts reared its ugly head again. As has been the theme this season, Ty Lue had to resort to his bench to bring the kind of energy and intensity needed to match the other team. They were able to overcome the early hole, but at some point, this is going to have to change. The starters can’t keep digging a hole and expect things to turn around.

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