The Clippers returned to action on Friday night inside Staples Center with a win against the New York Knicks 128-105 after falling to the Rockets a few days earlier.
“Any time we hold a team to 18 points in a quarter and we play the way we do offensively it’s going to be tough to beat us,” stated Clippers guard Austin Rivers after exploding for 14 points in the third quarter.
DeAndre Jordan racked up 14 first quarter points as the Clippers led the Knicks 32-25. Throughout the second quarter, it was a back-and-forth exchange between the two teams from opposite coasts. The Knicks gained the lead for the first time in the second quarter after Courtney Lee hit a three point shot to put the Knicks within one point (57-56). Tim Hardaway Jr. followed up by draining a jumper that gave the Knicks the lead (58-57).
“You get a guy like DeAndre Jordan rebounding, you have to come back and stop the ball and stop the penetration, it’s tough,” Hardaway Jr. said. Hardaway finished the game with 17 points.
Jordan was assessed with a technical foul in the final seconds of the first half after complaining about an alleged no-foul call. That led to the final possession of the first half for the Knicks. Hardaway scored a layup to maintain a 60-57 lead at the half.
The Clippers went on a 10-0 run to start the second half. The Los Angeles basketball club led by 17 points with three minutes left in the third quarter (87-70). The team outscored the Knicks 35-18.
“Austin Rivers had a helluva third quarter and I think he made like four or five three’s that quarter, so it’s kind of hard to get yourself going,” Hardaway said.
Rivers scored 14 points in the third quarter including four made three-pointers. Jordan notched a double-double, 19 points and 20 rebounds by the end of the quarter.
“There’s a reason why Austin and Lou and Tobias were wide open behind the three,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “DJ gets no credit for their shots, yet we know why they got them.”
“DJ was rolling and that kind of just opened up the floor for everybody,” added forward Tobias Harris, who contributed 15 points and six assists to the Clippers win.
The Clippers led by as much as 30 in the game before closing out the Knicks, 128-105.
“These are games that we’ve got to take if we’re going to make this playoff push,” Rivers said.
Before the game, Doc Rivers announced that Danilo Gallinari would miss more time this season due to a non-displaced fracture in his right hand. It is no secret that the Clippers have been one of the teams most affected by the injury bug. With this win, the Clippers are now one game behind the Denver Nuggets for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
“Teams are dropping, teams are moving up,” Rivers said. “It’s a lot of fun, but you have to win games.”
The Clippers will take on the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center on Sunday, Mar. 4 at 6 p.m. PST.