Clippers outlast Sacramento for home victory

first_imgWell, it gave them a victory when DeAndre Jordan closed out on DeMarcus Cousins and bothered his 16-foot jumper just enough for it to come up short at the buzzer. What the Clippers are still trying to cope with is finding that defensive formula and sticking to it and not allow a 20-point lead turn into a five-point deficit.But they found a way to turn the game into their favor in the final 3 minutes and captured the victory on Paul’s free throw with 2.5 seconds left that broke a 102-102 tie.Paul, who also hit a tying 3-pointer with 1:29 left as the shot clock reached :00, led the Clippers with 22 points and nine assists, with his double-double streak ending at an NBA-record 13 games to start the season.Jordan had 17 points and 12 rebounds, Blake Griffin overcame a tough shooting day for 16 points and 10 rebounds, and J.J. Redick added 15 points for the Clippers (9-5), who face Chicago today for their fourth game in five days.Cousins led the Kings (4-8) with 23 points and 19 rebounds. Isaiah Thomas (22 points) and Patrick Patterson (21 points) came off the bench to spark Sacramento’s comeback. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Between a 40-20 lead and the final moments, though, the Clippers realize there is still some work to be done defensively.“I always think that when you get a big lead, the only way you maintain the lead is with your defense,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I think 90 percent of the players in the league think ‘Now if we can just keep scoring’ … instead of understanding that if you can get the stops, the frustration alone will take you to (a 30-point lead). So it’s a good lesson for us.”Instead, it appeared it was the Clippers getting flustered as their lead was whittled away by the play the 6-foot-11 Cousins and 5-9 reserve guard Isaiah Thomas.It didn’t help that Sacramento took the lead with 8:06 left in the game and only seconds later, Redick was speeding in for a fastbreak layup. The Kings’ Travis Outlaw grabbed Redick from behind by the shoulder and yanked him down awkwardly, earning a flagrant foul 2 and an automatic ejection.“It was the right call,” Rivers said. “I don’t think Outlaw is a dirty player, despite his last name.”While the officials were reviewing the call, Griffin sat on the scorer’s table with 8:06 left in the game and kicked it a couple times.With 3:19 to go, Griffin was called for a technical foul. Thomas made the free throw and the Kings had a 94-89 lead.“It’s a mental thing,” Griffin said. “You have to stay locked in, you have to be prepared to really stay on yourself and not allow your team and not allow yourself to get loose and relax.“I feel like it was more on us. They played well in the second half, hit some shots, they hit shots ion the second quarter. I felt like it was on us. We relaxed too much. I thought we were careless at times. I was.”After his 3-pointer, Paul drove for a basket with 1:04 left for a 100-98 lead, but Thomas answered with two free throws. Paul then sent a bounce pass down the lane that Griffin turned into a dun, but Thomas came back with two more free throws and it was 102-102 with 24.2 seconds left.Paul picked up a screen from Redick and drove to his right to earn the tiebreaking free throw.“It’s good experience, you’re going to have games like that but we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation to begin with,” Griffin said. “Being in that situation and showing the resolve that we did, getting the stops when we needed it, getting buckets when we needed, was good.”The rest of the time?“Our defense in the first quarter our energy was great,” Paul said. “But that team over there is like two totally different teams with Isaiah Thomas in the game and not in the game. When he’s not in the game, a lot of times they play through Cousins. When he’s in the game, they run one play – pick and roll – and it’s tough because he’s a great player.”center_img Chris Paul pointed out that facing Sacramento is like facing two different teams.The Kings could have said the same thing about the Clippers on Saturday.The Clippers stormed to a big lead with a stout defensive effort, then disappeared for half the game before recovering and surviving the final seconds for a 103-102 victory at Staples Center.“It’s actually kind of fitting that we won the game with a defensive stop because we’ve been trying to get better defensively,” Paul said. “So hopefully that gave us some confidence.”last_img

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