For the second time in less than a month, the Sacramento Kings came into LA and beat the Clippers at Staples Center. Sacramento came away with a 112-103 win on Saturday afternoon in what was a generally dreary effort from the home team.
Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 31 points, but just 2 of those came in the fourth quarter. No other starter finished in double figures as the Clippers shot just over 39% from the field for the game. Lou Williams scored 24 off the bench, but he also finished with 8 turnovers. Reggie Jackson, who started in place of the injured Patrick Beverley in his Clippers debut, contributed 8 points and 4 assists on 3-for-9 shooting in 23 minutes. Paul George once again joined Beverley on the sidelines for this one.
The Kings got 20 points apiece from De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic, while Harry Giles impressively finished with a double-double (14 and 12) in 32 minutes. Kent Bazemore led the way for the Kings with 23 off the bench. The Kings made 2 more three-pointers than the Clippers did (12 to 10), while LAC committed 19 turnovers to Sacramento’s 13.
LAC came out flat, and they were never ultimately able to overcome it. The Clippers did take a lead in the fourth quarter, but the offense completely dried up in the game’s waning stages. Ivica Zubac finished with 8 points and 15 rebounds, but he did the vast majority of his damage before the intermission. Montrezl Harrell closed out the game by playing 17 straight minutes as Zu sat and watched from the bench.
Sluggish First Half
The Clippers mustered just 13 points in the first quarter, which was their lowest mark for a single frame all year long. LAC finished 4-for-24, which comes out to a robust 16.7% shooting from the field. The Kings, meanwhile, mustered 25 points despite hitting just a third of the shots they took. These early games generally suck, and this was no exception. At least through a quarter.
Things picked up in the late stages of the second quarter, especially once Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams started to assert themselves offensively. LAC actually wound up scoring more points in the final 2 minutes of the half than they did in the entire first quarter. Thanks to back-to-back triples from Lou Williams and Reggie Jackson just before the end of the half, the Clips put together a 14-6 run to enter halftime with a manageable 54-48 deficit.
The fact that the Clippers trailed by just 6 after falling behind by as many as 2 touchdowns in the first half was pretty remarkable. The team got the usual great work from Ivica Zubac, who set a new single-half career-high with 13 rebounds. 6 of those boards came on the offensive glass.
Leonard (14) and Williams (12) led the way offensively for the Clippers in the game’s first 24 minutes, while the Kings randomly got 15 points off the bench from Kent Bazemore. De’Aaron Fox was getting to the rim seemingly at will, but fortunately for LAC he struggled to find the end product. Fox finished the half with 8 points on just 3-for-11 shooting from the field.
In all, Sacramento shot a shade under 40% in the half, while the Clippers shot 33.3%. The Clips also lost the turnover battle 10-4 in the first half, which made the 6-point deficit all the more remarkable.
Clippers Surged Back
The Clippers once again fell into an early double-digit hole early in the third before Kawhi powered them right back into the game. Leonard put 15 points on the board in the third alone, which gave him 29 on the day going into the final frame.
Lou helped keep the Clippers relevant in the first half with his scoring, he committed another pair of turnovers in the third to bring his total to 8 through the first 3 quarters. In spite of all that had gone wrong to that point, LAC had closed the gap to 88-82 heading into the fourth.
Alex Len, who I’m not sure if I remembered was on the Kings at the start of the day, got into a little dust-up with Montrezl Harrell early in the fourth, with both players receiving technicals as a result.
A driving layup from Sweet Lou with just under 9 to play closed the gap to just a point, and a tough bucket by Harrell through traffic gave the Clippers their first lead of the game at 95-94 on the very next possession. Lou scored again after another empty possession from Sacramento after that, which pushed the Clippers’ run to 12-4 since the Len-Harrell mini-kerfuffle.
The teams volleyed the lead back-and-forth over the next few minutes before another triple from R3ggie put Lawler’s Law into effect and gave LAC a 101-99 advantage.
Unfortunately, everything went downhill from there. The Clippers went the next 5 minutes of game time without a single point. Sacramento wasn’t exactly lighting it up offensively, but if you’re not going to score points, you’re probably not going to win.
Following a few Kings free throws, Bogdan Bogdanovic’s fourth triple of the game put Sacramento up 107-101, and a Harry Giles dunk a few possessions later gave the Kings an 8-point lead with under a minute left.
The Clippers will have Sunday off before returning to action on Monday night at home against the Memphis Grizzlies.