Rapid Reaction: Clippers 112, Pistons 103
March, 22, 2014
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers responded to their four-day break as you would expect they would: rested, re-energized and, well, rusty.
While the Clippers welcomed Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison back to the lineup, they had a hard time putting away the Detroit Pistons before ultimately claiming a 112-103 win.
It wasn't a game the Clippers will hang their hat on as they look at the final 12 games of the regular season starting Monday, but it put them one step closer to claiming their second straight Pacific Division title and a top-three seed in the Western Conference.
How it happened: The Clippers took a 13-point lead in the first quarter and a 16-point lead in third quarter but weren't able to pull away from the Pistons. Every time the Clippers would go up by double digits, the Pistons would cut it down to six points and make it a game. The Pistons, however, were never able to get the lead after the second quarter.
What it means: The Clippers have won 12 of their past 13 games after having their 11-game winning streak snapped in their previous game. The Clippers now have a five-game lead atop the Pacific Division and a two-game lead (with the tiebreaker) over the Houston Rockets for the third seed in the West with only 12 games left in the regular season.
Hits: Blake Griffin had 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and has now scored at least 20 points in a franchise-record 28 straight games, which is the second-longest streak in the NBA this season. Chris Paul had 28 points and 15 assists, and DeAndre Jordan had nine points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Misses: While it was good just to have Crawford back on the court and playing significant minutes, it was clear he was still a little rusty after missing eight of the past nine games because of a strained calf. He was 4-for-13 from the field and hit only one of his six 3-point attempts.
Stat of the game: The Clippers went 11-for-29 from beyond the arc, not a great percentage, but they remained undefeated this season when they make at least nine 3-pointers. The Clippers scored 25 fast-break points compared to nine for the Pistons.
Up next: The Clippers will be off Sunday before taking on the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. The Clippers beat the Bucks 114-86 earlier in the season, and Milwaukee has the worst record in the NBA at 13-56.