LOS ANGELES, CA-The Los Angeles Clippers didn’t waste too much energy against the New York Knicks Sunday afternoon at Staples Center. With the playoff push winding down on the regular season, the Clippers, currently seated at the No. 8 position in the Western Conference, didn’t give the Knicks a chance to even think about pulling off an upset, jumping out to an 18-point first quarter lead and never looking back.
“We were not ready to play,” said New York Knicks coach David Fizdale. “For whatever reason, these early games [have] been our challenge. We weren’t ready to play in that first half. Obviously, I’m proud of the way we came out and battled in the second half. Coming into the second half the goal was to win the half-quarter by quarter, and we did that.”
That 18-point cushion the Clippers enjoyed in that first quarter was a result of a couple of things. First, the hot-shooting of rookie Landry Shamet made its mark in the contest. Shamet converted six of his eight 3-pointers in the initial period for 18 of his team-high 21 points. Shamet’s marksmanship enabled the Clippers to get off to a 38-20 first quarter lead.
“[Landry Shamet] was fantastic,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “What I like about our team is that they see it and they try to give him the ball. I thought that was really neat, we did call a couple of actions for them. A lot of that was that our guys knew we had it going and our guys made sure that [Landry Shamet] got the ball.”
It didn’t hurt that the Knicks could only convert only 30 percent (7 of 23) of their shots from the field in the period, while the Clippers shot 53 percent in their field goal attempts. New York shot better in the second quarter (43 percent), but the Clippers improved their shooting in the period as well, making 57 percent (15 of 26) of their field goal attempts.
And from there, the Clippers coasted, running away to a 128-107 win in front of a sellout crowd. It’s a crucial victory for the Clippers as they battle the San Antonio Spurs as the Western Conference’s seventh and eighth seeds.
By halftime, this contest was over with the Clippers walking into their dressing room holding an 82-46 lead. At one point during the second quarter, the Clippers was holding a 37-point advantage over the Knicks.
Coming off a big win against the Sacramento Kings on the road, the Clippers will need all the energy they can get to help sustain them for the rest of the month when you consider the regimented schedule that they have in front of them. The Clippers have 15 games to play in the month of March. The home contest against the Knicks was game No. 2.
Their schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Clippers matching up against the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers, among the patch of games they must wade through with some sort of success in order to finish the season off strong and have a placing in the postseason.
But if they continue to play at the level that they played against New York that shouldn’t be a problem.
“I think that Doc [Rivers] and the coaches have been doing a really great job sending the message to us about what we need to do,” said Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari. “The response from every player has been great but we can get better and we will get better.”