Clippers’ playoff push strong after back-to-back home wins

Positioned in the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings, the Los Angeles Clippers have managed a 36-29 record on the season with star Blake Griffin being traded to the Detroit Pistons, a host of injuries and missed time from nearly every roster player and no All-Stars.

The Clippers secured their second consecutive win on a back-to-back night against the Orlando Magic after a resounding victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

“I have a great group, every night we can change the lineups,nobody complains,e veryboyd is always ready,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “They just want to win, and that’s why we’re winning games.”

The Clippers fought back midway through the fourth quarter after trailing by nine points, anchored by Lou Williams who scored 10 of his game-high 25 points in the first five minutes of the final quarter of play.

Tobias Harris soars to the basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, March 9, 2018. Photo by Steven Baffo for News4usonline

“I’ve seen him do it on numerous occasions, throughout the summer in different summer leagues and stuff like that,” said Montrezl Harrell. “The way he scores the ball, no matter what type of defense you play, this guy is a veteran who has been in the league ten plus years.”

Harrell scored 20 points off the bench on Friday night and contributed 13 points to the Clippers’ win over the Magic. Harrell has been a spark of energy off the bench for the team all season. Williams and Tobias Harris combined for 46 points.

The Magic fought back from eight down to gain their first lead of the game with a turnaround jump shot by center Nikola Vucevic 22-21 with 4:05 left in the first quarter. The Magic built on their lead out of halftime.

The Los Angeles Clippers raced past LeBron James (23) and the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 116-102 win at Staples Center on Friday, March 9, 2018. Photo by Steven Baffo for News4usonline

“They ran away with it a little bit coming out of the second half, but we did all the right things we needed to do made the right stops, defensive rotations,” said Williams.

A three-pointer by Milos Teodosic cut the Clippers’ deficit to two points (85-83) in the final three minutes of the third quarter. Teodosic added 15 points and seven assists off the bench. The momentum shifted back in favor of the Clippers with an 8-2 run to start the fourth quarter that forced an Orlando timeout. The Clippers shot 52.6 percent from the field. Ultimately, the game came down to defense. In the final quarter, the Clippers limited Orla to just 16 points.

The contest against the Magic on Saturday was a stark juxtaposition from that of the visiting Cavaliers on Friday night led by LeBron James. In the game against the Cavaliers, the Clippers gained the lead in the first quarter and would not trail for the remainder of the game.  Six players scored in double figures for the Clippers as Los Angeles executed the route, at times leading by as much as 19 points.

Austin Rivers goes to the rack against the Orlando Magic during the Los Angeles Clippers’ 113-105 win at Staples Center on Saturday, March 10, 2018. Photo by Steven Baffo for News4usonline

It was a promising showing for Sindarius Thornwell who received the starting spot alongside Williams, Harris, Rivers and Jordan. Thornwell came out with a hot start, scoring 11 first quarter points. He finished the game with with 14 points. He was tasked with guarding James who scored 25 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

“Whether it’s guarding LeBron or whoever, I go out there and give it my best shot and play my hardest,” remarked Thornwell.

The Clippers have a 0.5 game advantage over the Jazz and Nuggets for eighth in the Western Conference as the team prepare for a three-game road trip that includes going up against the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Tough games, every game,” Doc Rivers said. “We just have to keep our focus, we got to keep the;“one game at a time’ motto, which we’ve kept all year.

The Clippers will travel to Chicago to take on the Bulls Tuesday (Mar. 13) night.

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