LOS ANGELES, CA- Clippers rookie point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander heaved a half-court shot and watched the ball splash through the net as the end of first quarter buzzer sounded. It was that kind of night for the Clippers against NBA All-Star guards John Wall, Bradley Beal, and the Washington Wizards. Led by 22 points and 11 rebounds from Tobias Harris, the Clippers used a 69-point first half to trounce Washington, 136-104.
“When we get misses, run, keep the floor spaced and just trust. Keep things simple. We are really good,” said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. He added, “I thought our execution was unbelievable. Our spacing was unbelievable.”
Los Angeles improves to 4-2 overall and 1-0 against the Eastern Conference. The Wizards fall to 1-5 overall to start the season, struggling without newly signed center Dwight Howard who has been out with gluteal soreness.
Defensive stalwart Avery Bradley added 15 points and five assists for the Clippers. “It feels good to play great basketball and I felt like we were moving the basketball around great tonight and creating shots for each other,” Bradley said.
Forward Danilo Gallinari and point guard Patrick Beverley each added 11. Beverly said, “It was a team effort. We did it collectively, that’s our mindset.” Scoring extraordinaire Lou WIlliams poured in 17 off the bench, 14 in the fourth quarter. Gilgeous-Alexander contributed 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. “I feel like I’m getting more comfortable each and every game,” he said.
Beal scored a team-high 20 points in 29 minutes and Wall posted 18 points with five assists in 28 minutes. Jeff Green scored 12 points and snatched eight rebounds. Wizards guard Austin Rivers, son of Doc Rivers who played in Los Angeles for four years, received a first quarter tribute video at the Staples Center. Rivers (nine points) said of Los Angeles, “I miss the weather. People really underestimate the positivity of what good weather can do.”
Leading by eight after the first quarter, the Clippers quickly extended their advantage to 16 in the second quarter. Off a Wizards miss, Williams drove to the rim and tossed a magical behind-the-back dime to Montrezl Harrell (13 points and six rebounds) for an and-one basket, keeping the Clipper lead in double digits.
Wizards starting forward Markieff Morris suffered a facial injury midway through the quarter and was helped off the floor. 18 first-half points from Wall kept the Wizards in striking distance, as they trailed 69-54 at halftime. Both teams traded misses to open second half action. Off a Marcin Gortat miss inside, Harris flushed down the put-back. Beal missed on the following possession and the Clippers broke open their transition offense.
Trying to intercept an outlet pass, Wall dove through the passing lane, missed the ball and flew over the first row of sideline seats.
The all-star guard quickly hopped back into play, after Harris completed an alley-oop dunk for Los Angeles. Patrick Beverley came alive down the stretch of the third quarter, nailing three straight shots from beyond the arc. Los Angeles broke the game open with just over three minutes remaining in the quarter, leading 91-72.
Clipper fan-favorite Boban Marjanovic didn’t see action until the fourth quarter, but dominated in his 11 minutes of play. Marjanovic lit up the Washington interior defense with 13 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
Bradley got off to a hot start, scoring eight of the Clippers first 10 points. “I think my teammates were just making plays for me,” he said. Washington fell behind 19-16 as the first quarter winded down. Beal ripped past Clipper defenders and threw down a vicious two-handed slam, one of the Wizards few first quarter offensive highlights. Los Angeles held a 28-20 advantage after one.
The Clippers dominated in nearly every statistical category, particularly in shooting. Los Angeles shot 54.4 percent from the field and 55.2 percent from three-point land. Washington converted on just 39.2 percent of their field goals and made 18.5 percent of their three-point attempts.
The Wizards also lost the points in the paint battle, 68 to 54. For the Clippers, two road games against the Thunder and 76ers await. Washington heads to Memphis next, before traveling home to host Oklahoma City and New York. “We’ve got to be better,” Washington head coach Scott Brooks said. He added, “We’ve got to be able to take some pride on the defensive end of the court.”
Blake Atwell is a multimedia journalist and sophomore at Santa Monica College.