LOS ANGELES, CA-Things got a bit interesting for the Los Angeles Clippers during the first couple of minutes of the fourth quarter in their Pacific Division contest against the upstart Sacramento Kings. After being down by as much as 25 points in the second quarter, the Kings found themselves within creeping distance of the Clippers with a little over eight minutes to play in the final period.
Six minutes later after a couple of free throws by Lou Williams, the Clippers had re-established order at Staples Center, having extended their lead to 19 with 2:09 remaining to play in the Sunday afternoon matinee.
That run enabled the Clippers to hang on to win their 26th (26-22) game of the season. The Clippers wound up defeating the Kings by the score of 122-108, but this was not as easy of a win as it looks on paper.
“We knew that they were a team that makes runs and gets back into the game, so we just had to pick up our defensive intensity and get multiple stops,” said Clippers forward Tobias Harris. “I thought for us we battled all night; we got big efforts from [Montrezl Harrell]. He came in and played great for us and we just continued to fight even if some of the shots that we normally have fall for us didn’t fall. That was a good effort from us.”
For the first two quarters, however, it did appear as if the Clippers would run the Kings straight out of their building as they rolled to a 34-21 first-quarter advantage, and a 67-51 edge by the time intermission came around. The Kings looked like they could not do anything right. Sacramento found itself in an early hole thanks to the Kings’ poor shooting from the field in the first period, connecting on just 34 percent of their field goals.
The Clippers, by contrast, fared a lot better from the field, making 13 of their 24 shots, including going 6-of-7 from behind the arc. Guard Patrick Beverly led the way, going 3-for-3 from three-point land on his way to scoring a team-high 11 points in the opening stanza. Beverly finished the game with 16 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. It took more than Beverly to take down the Kings, though.
The Clippers used a balanced scoring attack to beat back Sacramento. In other words, the Clippers got a little bit out of just about everyone to claim this victory. Montrezl Harrell came off the bench to score a game-high 25 points on 11-13 shooting from the field. Harrell did the bulk of his work in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points in the period as the Clippers outscored the Kings, 35-32.
“Big shots, timely stops. In the first half it was our defense,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought our defense was terrific. In the second half, I actually thought we made some timely shots, to be honest. I didn’t think we played great in the second half but we did enough to win the game.”
For the game, the Clippers had six players score in double-digits. After their poor start, the Kings got rolling behind the timely shooting of De’Aaron Fox (21 points), Buddy Hield (16 points), and Bogdan Bogdanovic (19 points). Sacramento steadily chipped away at the large lead the Clippers had built, thanks to their second and third quarter play.
As good as the Clippers were shooting the ball from the field in the first and second quarters, they were just as poor in the third period. The Clippers made just 30 percent of their shots from the field (6-of-20) to score only 20 points in the period. The Kings weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire themselves, connecting on just eight of their 27 shots. The Clippers may have had something to do with that.
“They’re a good team, man,” Sacramento forward Justin Jackson said. “They are a really good team. I think that each game we fought with them, and they just ended up making some plays at the end of the games and throughout the games. They ended up beating us; credit goes to them. They are a really good team. We fought today, but they just hit some shots.”