Battling through fatigue, a truncated rotation down five starters and the officiating of Tony Brothers on the road, the L.A. Clippers (39-18) prevailed 100-98 over the Detroit Pistons to extend their winning streak to seven. Knocking down a cold-blooded game-winner in the heart of Motown with 2.3 seconds left, Reggie Jackson threw on his cape to put up a season-high 29 points (12-24 FG) and six rebounds. Had Jackson not gone hero-mode down the stretch, the Clippers’ player of the game honors would’ve went to Ivica Zubac, who double-doubled with 18 points (6-10 FG, 6-7 FT), 13 rebounds, two steals and a block. Luke Kennard had a rough shooting night, but finished with 17 points and a career-high-tying 10 boards. Making up for lost time, Jerami Grant led the way for the Pistons (16-39) with 28 points. Read on for our full Clippers vs. Pistons game recap.
Tipping off with their 20th different starting lineup of the season, the Clippers played about as well as could be expected in the opening quarter. Shooting just 1-for-6 from deep, L.A. still managed to put up 30 points in the period behind strong drives into the paint. Entering the bonus midway through the quarter, the Clippers cashed in on 9 of 11 trips to the free throw line. As Detroit’s Mason Plumlee and Josh Jackson each picked up two fouls in the period, however, so too did Terance Mann, who ultimately played just 10:54 in the first half. With the Clippers missing its Top-4 leading scorers, Reggie Jackson and Ivica Zubac provided the much-needed offense with ease early for the Clippers, combining for 21 points on 11 field goal attempts in the opening frame. After missing the two teams’ first matchup Sunday, Jerami Grant made his presence known for Detroit from the get-go, scoring 12 while playing the whole 12 minutes in the quarter. After one, the Clippers led 30-27.
In the second quarter, the game’s true colors began to show as both sides shot less than 36% from the field. As Reggie Jackson struggled to find the range, Luke Kennard became more aggressive in finding his own shot, leading the Clippers with 10 points in the period. The Clippers shot just 2-for-8 from deep in this frame, but were able to take what ended up being their largest lead of the game of eight by being scrappy on the boards and continuing to draw fouls. With momentum-killing buckets by Jerami Grant and Josh Jackson to close the first half, the Clippers took a 53-49 lead back to the locker room.
The Clippers had one of their worst third quarters of the season as their heavy-legged 3-point shooting continued to fail them. Reggie Jackson came back to life a bit to shoulder L.A.’s scoring load, but the Pistons flipped the free throw shooting discrepancy on its head, taking 10 trips to the charity stripe as opposed to the Clippers lone one. Shooting 52.9% from the field and looking much fresher than their opposition, the Pistons nearly took complete control of the game had it not been for a Nicolas Batum 4-point play to cut the Clippers’ deficit to 73-77 heading into the fourth.
After falling further behind in a tight duel through the first seven minutes and 10 seconds of the final frame 9-16, it appeared as though L.A.’s lack of consistent scoring was simply too much to overcome as the Pistons held their largest lead of the game up 11 with 4:50 remaining. As both sides soon continued to come up short with empty possessions, however, the Clippers stayed the course off of timely baskets from Mann, Jackson and Zubac. After emptying the playbook, including some Hack-a-Plumlee theatrics that ultimately failed, L.A. found itself with a chance down 93-98 with 46.9 seconds left. With a T-Mann dunk, a Batum steal leading to a transition Jackson corner three to tie it and an unbelievable inbound steal by Amir Coffey, the Clippers handed it off for Jackson to go on and win the game.
Clippers vs. Pistons Game Notes
- Boogie Delivers: Albeit the 15:27 of playing time felt a bit too high, DeMarcus Cousins was a positive contributor in the win. With his physicality down low and raw skill, Cousins drew some big fouls early in the fourth on both ends to go with his eight points.
- A True Point Guard: The Clippers move to 7-0 when Rajon Rondo plays, and have outscored their opponents by 71 points with him on the floor. Accounting for nearly half of the team’s mere 10 assisted baskets (4) Wednesday night, Rondo showed off his ability to be a floor general once again in his 17 minutes of action. Although he did pass up a pair of wide open looks from three, Rondo was very vocal in directing traffic, connecting guys together during dead balls and set up another Clipper to perfection on a nice BLOB dime to Luke Kennard for an and-1 layup.
- Old-School Win: Despite shooting a horrendous 7-for-28 from three (24.1%), the Clippers moved to 1-5 on the season when making less than 10 3s and 10-1 in the second game of back-to-backs.
- Up Next: The Clippers will face the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center to close out their three-game road trip Friday, April 16 at 4 p.m. PT.
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