The Clippers finally showed some grit, coming back from a 15-point deficit on the road in Philly to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with a 108-107 win that came down to the final possession.


The Clippers once again got off to a rough start, with the starters misfiring on offense. Kawhi was 0-4 in the first period, and Paul George and James Harden with 1-3 apiece, with the Clippers’ Big 3 scoring 5 points on 2-10 shooting total. Terance Mann led the Clippers with six points on two threes, while the Clippers gave up nine points to Tobias Harris alone, and trailed 30-18 after one. It was every bit as bad as it sounds.

The second quarter started just as dismally. The Clippers ran out a Harden-Russ-Norm-Coffey-PJ (Mason played a few minutes at the end of the 1st) unit that was so tiny on defense and on the glass that they made Paul Reed look like what I imagine Wilt Chamberlain looked like in the 60s. The Clippers brought in Zu for PJ and PG for Russ and order was restored a bit, with the Clippers actually stringing together some stops and scoring in transition. Kawhi and Terance returned around the 6 minute mark, and another Clippers’ burst got the deficit to 45-40 when PG picked up his 3rd foul and Norm checked in for him. Kawhi missed two open shots, Maxey made two, and the lead went back to 10 at the 2:03 mark. However, for once, the Clippers closed a half well, and a beautiful Harden dish to Amir (back in for microball) got the deficit to just 50-46 at half. Harden (11 points on 4-8 shooting, 6 assists) and Mann (10 points, 4-7 shooting) were the standouts, with PG and Kawhi combining for just 2-14 shooting and six points.

The Clippers came out on a quick burst, going on a 10-5 run keyed by two PG threes that saw them take their first lead of th game. However, a quick 6-0 Sixers run got their lead right back to five. For a few minutes, the Clippers played well, but just could not make headway because of how cold they were from the field, with Kawhi particularly frigid, sitting at 1-11 at one point. However, the Clippers kept battling, and a Kawhi steal and dunk got the Clippers another one-point lead around the 3:30 mark. Unfortunately, Maxey and Hield went on a run of their own, with the Clippers looking slow out on the perimeter. The third quarter ended and the Sixers led 79-75.

A quick 5-0 run by the Sixers against a Russ-Norm-Coffey-PG-Plum lineup had them up nine and there was once more the fear of a 4th quarter slipping away. However, PG answered with a three, and scored again, bringing the deficit down to four once more. Kawhi checked in at the 9 minute mark for Plumlee, with the Clippers going small. Harden came back a couple minutes later for Russ, and a Harden layup in transition followed by a great pass to a streaking Kawhi in transition got them to 91-89 at the 6:20 mark.

From there, both sides went small. Maxey and Hield were the main guys for the Sixers, while PG continued to carry the Clippers. Every time the Sixers scored, the Clippers answered. The clock ticked away, and it seemed like the Clippers could run out of time, as the Sixers led by 3 with a minute to go. However, Maxey slipped, Amir got the steal, and was fouled, making one of two FTs. PG then knocked the ball off Oubre on the inbounds, and after a Clippers’ challenge, the Clippers got the ball back. Coffey got into the paint, found a cutting Kawhi for an insane and-one finish, and the Clippers led 105-104 with 44 seconds to go. Hield nailed a deep three on good defense by the Clippers, putting the Sixers back up two. Not to be denied, Kawhi went for another and-one, giving the Clippers a 108-107 lead with 15.7 to go. The drama was not finished. Kelly Oubre went for a drive, and Kawhi blocked him. Nurse challenged, and the call stood, creating a jump ball with 5.1 to go. The Sixers got the ball, but PG played good defense on Oubre, who did not get the shot off (and Kawhi blocked it anyhow). Clippers win.


A Great Three Quarters: After the abomination of a first quarter, the Clippers strung together three good quarters for the first time in several weeks. They outscored the Sixers 90-77 across that stretch, with the defense being particularly notable. Yes, the Sixers were missing Embiid, and Melton, and RoCo. But still, Maxey is great, and they got great contributions from Hield and Bamba – and the Clippers persisted anyway. Their forcing the ball out of Maxey’s hands in the late 4h was absolutely the right call, and they defended and gang rebounded with force. Their offense wasn’t always pretty, but that had a lot to do with Kawhi being ice cold until the 4th and missing open shots. It certainly was not perfect, but on the road against a competent team that also played hard and well it was a very nice performance.

New Rotations: Ty Lue switched up his rotations once more in this one. There was no Daniel Theis, but Mason Plumlee played the end of the first quarter and start of the 4th (he would have played the end of the 3rd but various situations kept Zu in), while PJ played just a few minute at the start of the 2nd. The small-ball unit down the stretch did not feature Russ or Mann, but instead the Big 3 with Norm and Amir. That spacing, with the Clippers’ 5 best shooters all on the floor, finally opened up the offense. Whether that unit is sustainable against better offensive teams with more size remains to be seen.

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