LOS ANGELES- After trailing by six at halftime, the Los Angeles Clippers opened the second half on an 11-1 run and outscored the Bulls 45-21 throughout the third quarter to beat Chicago 128-121.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Bulls head coach Jim Boylen were both ejected with just over one minute left in the third quarter, resulting from a heated verbal altercation over an illegal screen foul call on L.A. forward Montrezl Harrell.
“I have no idea why I was ejected, I really don’t,” said Rivers. “I don’t ever talk to the other coach unless the coach talks to me. I don’t think I should’ve been thrown out for that.”
Rivers claimed Boylen, who was upset over a play in the first half, directed his anger towards him and not the referees or players.
“(The referee) didn’t want to decide who was the instigator,” said Rivers. “I think he took the easy way out tonight.”
— Blake Atwell (@blakeatwell5) March 16, 2019
L.A. improves to 40-30 on the season and is firmly in the Western Conference playoff picture, currently seeded eighth. The Clippers have now beaten Chicago six consecutive times and handed the Bulls their sixth loss in seven games.
Danilo Gallinari (27 points) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (17 points) led Clipper starters in scoring. Harrell added 26 points in the Clippers’ win and Lou Williams contributed 21 off the L.A. bench. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Harrell and Williams have the highest combined single-season scoring average of any two reserves on the same team in NBA history.
Patrick Beverley led the team in rebounds with eight.
“There are certain guys you just allow to break your rules,” said Rivers of Beverley. “We don’t want our guards, especially our point guards, scratching the offensive glass. But, he’s great at it.”
Chicago’ Zach LaVine poured in 31 points on 19 shots, gobbled down seven rebounds and dished out seven assists. Robin Lopez added 22 points and eight boards, shooting 75 percent from the field. The Bulls fall to 19-51 overall and 11-24 on the road.
Two straight Gilgeous-Alexander buckets forced a Chicago timeout with the Clippers leading 74-67.
“We just got back to ourselves and playing our way,” said Clippers starting center Ivica Zubac.
A Landry Shamet 3-pointer off two offensive rebounds widened the scoreboard gap to 13 as time wore down in the third quarter. The Clippers offense struggled from the floor to start, shooting 3-of-10 throughout the game’s first six minutes.
“If you could control the ball going in or not, players would be really, really good,” said Shamet. “You can’t let that control the rest of your game.”
A pair of L.A. 3-pointers and a Zubac dunk got the Clippers back on track, as L.A. led 19-17. Otto Porter Jr. scored three consecutive baskets and LaVine followed by nailing two 3-pointers, giving Chicago a 34-29 advantage after one.
Gilgeous-Alexander snagged the ball away from Lavine, charged towards the rim and dropped it off for Harrell who dunked with two hands. The Clippers regained a 50-49 lead, roughly eight minutes into the second quarter. To end the first half, the Bulls’ offense erupted on a 17-5 scoring run. Chicago entered the break with a 63-57 lead.
“We didn’t play well in the first half,” said Rivers. “I thought everything they did was faster, harder, tougher.”
LaVine and Lopez both scored 16, while Gilgeous-Alexander posted a team-high 11 first half points for the Clippers.
Chicago rounds out its California road trip on Sunday against the Sacramento Kings (33-35, 9-seed in the western conference). The Clippers three-game homestand continues against the Brooklyn Nets (36-34, 7-seed in the Eastern Conference) on Sunday.
Blake Atwell is a multimedia journalist and sophomore at Santa Monica College.