Los Angeles-The Los Angeles Clippers played good enough defense to win their inter-division game against the visiting Detroit Pistons Saturday night at Staples Center. Their offense didn’t follow suit. Led by Patrick Beverly’s high-level defensive performance, the Clippers put the clamps on Detroit, holding the Pistons to just 33 percent shooting from the field.
During the second and third quarters, the Clippers defensive mode went into overdrive as the Pistons would only score 18 (second) and 22 (third) points, respectively. Then the bottom dropped in the fourth quarter for the Clippers when they were outscored 28-15 by Detroit.
As a result, the Clippers went down in defeat for the first time this season. The Clippers had dodged the loss column against Portland when Blake Griffin hit a three-point shot at the end of the game to secure L.A. its fourth win of the year. Griffin wouldn’t have an opportunity for a buzzer-beater against the Pistons.
The Clippers scored 55 points through the first two quarters of play to walk into halftime with a 10-point advantage. The second half proved to be their undoing. Scoring just 17 points in the third quarter and a putrid 15 points in the fourth period, the Clippers hit a scoring wall, eventually losing a 95-87 decision.
The victory was a big win for the Pistons. The defeat was a tough one to swallow for the Clippers. The downswing for the Clippers began with an off-shooting night from their starters. The starting five for the Clippers managed to only make 21 of their 61 field goal attempts from the field.
It was a rather forgettable evening for Clippers star Blake Griffin, who found himself blanketed by one aggressive double-team and triple team after another. Griffin would up scoring a respectable 19 points, but he only converted 5 of the 18 shots he attempted.
Griffin’s teammate, fellow big man Danilo Gallinari, was just as inconsistent. Gallinari made only 4 of his 16 shots from the field. As a team, the Clippers were 28-84 from the field, good enough for a 40-percent mark. That should have been enough to overcome an opponent shooting just 33 percent from the field.
The Clippers also beat the Pistons in the turnover game (12 to 18), outscored them in fastbreak points and held a 38-22 advantage in points in the paint. So how did the Pistons walk away with their fourth win of the young NBA season?
Detroit converted more field goals than the Clippers, shot slightly better from 3-point range (39.5 percent to 32 percent) and hit a bigger percentage of their free throws (72 percent to 66 percent). And they won the all-important fourth quarter, outscoring the Clippers by 13 in the final period.
Besides Beverly’s defensive show in which he picked up a couple of steals, Austin Rivers was about the only other bright spot on this night for the Clippers. Rivers scored a team-high 20 points for the Clippers, making 50 percent (6-of-12) of his shots from the floor.