Most LA fans were overjoyed to see the Clippers destroy the Pelicans 126-103 Saturday afternoon. But me? I was worried.
While some of you are celebrating the Clippers’ first seeding game win, I will be anxiously waiting to hear how severe their punishment will be. A fine? Maybe. Suspension? That’s probably the minimum. Even a full on expulsion from the bubble wouldn’t be surprising. Disney is very strict on their prohibited items, so I can only imagine how upset they are with the Clippers for bringing a flamethrower into the bubble… or at least that’s what it seemed like all game.
The Clippers came out of the gates firing, splashing 6/6 threes and scoring 20 points in the first 4 minutes of the game. Paul George led the way nailing three quick 3s, and the team looked much sharper than they did to start off their last game against the Lakers. The Pelicans, who started off their last game hot, did not look great. They came out with lackadaisical defense, terrible shots, and passes straight into the weird, digital crowd. Maybe they were bothered by the Clippers’ defense, or maybe they were just making sure that the basketball could social distance from the players and the hoop. Either way, they looked like an absolute mess out there, fell behind early, and never even came close to looking good, let alone winning the game.
Unlike their sad, avian counterparts, the Clippers had just about everyone contributing on both ends Even Morris and Shamet, who were painfully invisible against the Lakers, knocked down a handful of shots in rhythm while putting in solid defense. Before we dive into the offense, which was certainly the highlight of the first half (and the entire game), the team’s defensive effort should not be overlooked. The Clippers were incredibly active playing the passing lanes well, chasing down loose balls, and fighting for rebounds. This all resulted in 24 points off of turnovers in the first half, in addition to a very, very dispirited Pelicans team.
On the offensive end, there really isn’t much to say except “WOW”. The Clippers set a franchise record for first-half threes made with 16 (they were 1 off tying the all time record with 17, but apparently getting easy layups made more sense), and they really could do no wrong. They were in the zone to say the least, and they ended the half up 77-46. (In case anyone was wondering, yes, the Clippers did outscore the Pelicans in the 1st half just on three pointers alone.)
The second half really wasn’t much different for the most part. The first and second unit continued to look phenomenal, especially Paul George who finished with 28 points on 8/11 three pointers and helped the Clippers destroy the Pelicans 126-103. The third quarter was a continuation of the beatdown of the first half, with the Pelicans looking completely frustrated and outmatched against the Clippers, who built up a 37 point lead by the end of the quarter.
The games final 12 minutes were nothing but garbage time with the Clippers emptying their bench and just going through the motions. The only real achievement to finish the game was a Terrance Mann three which got the Clippers a new franchise record of 25 three pointers in a game, and capped off a dominating 126-103 win. With a win tonight and a Nuggets loss, the Clippers gain slightly more breathing room in their fight to keep the 2nd seed.
- The PeliCANTs: It can be hard to find legitimate takeaways from a game when either team is shooting absolutely lights out. We knew the Clippers were good going into this game, and this changed nothing except for a couple of records. The Pelicans, on the other hand, looked really, really bad. Looking bad isn’t necessarily the problem—even great teams have off nights. The bigger problem was that the Pelicans very clearly gave up in the 2nd quarter. Even for a team as great as LA, it wouldn’t be possible for the Clippers to destroy the Pelicans 126-103, leading by as much as 42, if New Orleans didn’t quit in the first half. For a team that is fighting for a playoff spot in a short 8 game seeding round, that is inexcusable, and it falls on the shoulders of their leaders who were all no shows.
- Paul George: I mentioned him a couple of times in the recap, but wow, he has looked fantastic in both games so far. His defense has been great, and his offense is just smooth. If he can keep this up, the Clippers are looking very, very dangerous. George became legitimately underrated this season, and he’s proving himself (again) in the bubble.
- Points aren’t everything: While the team was obviously shooting lights out, it’s also good to see players contributing in other ways. Reggie Jackson grabbed 8 boards in addition to his 15 points, Zubac finished with 9 boards, 3 assists, and 2 steals, and Kawhi finished with a very balanced 24 points, 6 boards, and 5 assists. On top of that, Kawhi actually set a single season career best number of assists!
- Montrezl Harrell: As a quick aside—the Clippers were still without Lou and Trez tonight. While Lou will be returning from his wing-related quarantine next game, Trez unfortunately lost his grandmother yesterday. Family always does come first, and we have nothing but hope and love for the big man.
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