The LA Clippers used a 22-0 run in the fourth quarter to surge past the visiting Brooklyn Nets, 125-114.
There’s three things you can count on in life; death, taxes, and the Clippers with a slow start on Sunday afternoon games.
In this go-round, the Clippers found themselves down 16-0 in the first quarter. When Mikal Bridges came down court and drilled a three-point shot mere seconds after the opening tip, it felt like it was going to be one of those games.
With the starters sleepwalking through the first quarter, it was the second unit along with Terance Mann who got the Clippers back into the game. Mann knocked down back to back three-point shots to put the Clippers on the scoreboard and then the bench unit led by Russell Westbrook completely erased the Nets 16 point lead.
Even though the Clippers still kind of slogged through the rest of the game, it was that bench energy that helped wake the Clippers up. Being the leader of the second unit is a role that Westbrook has embraced and he knows that some nights he’s going to be relied upon to spark the team.
“It’s my job. . .my energy is a huge part of my game and what I can bring to the team every night when we have slow starts, which is going to happen in an 82-game season,” Westbrook said after the game. “Tonight I tried to use my energy to try to make an impact on the game whether it’s offensively or defensively, whatever is needed for our team.”
The Clippers still found themselves trailing by double digits at the half, 61-49. Throughout the third quarter, it was more of the same. The Clippers were missing layups and the Nets were knocking down three-point shots.
Each time the Clippers looked like they were going to spark a run a cut into the Nets lead, Brooklyn would answer with a well-timed three-pointer. Right at the end of the third quarter, Westbrook knocked down a three to beat the buzzer and give the Clippers a little momentum.
With the Nets ahead 114-103 a little more than halfway through the fourth quarter, was when the game changed. The Clippers responded with a 10-0 run to pull within 114-113. Kawhi Leonard gave the Clippers their first lead of the game at 115-114, and they never looked back after that.
While the 22-0 run that the Clippers ended the game on stands out, it was their defense effort, according to James Harden, that set the tone for the comeback.
“When we’re engaged and doing the things necessary to guard and get stops consecutively, we’re an extremely unbeatable team,” Harden said. “They came out and punched us in the mouth, and in the four quarter we played Clippers basketball and got some stops.”