Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Clippers 112, Bobcats 85
By Jovan Buha Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- Despite coming off the third-worst home loss of the Chris Paul era, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers remained even-keeled when discussing his level of concern over his team laying an egg to close out 2013.
"How many bad games have we had?" Rivers said before Wednesday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats. "It's not like we have a habit of bad games. We had one. We've lost games, but we've played hard. We lost to Golden State and Portland, but we played hard.
"The other night we just didn't do any of those things. So that was abnormal. Look at it as that."
Rivers' words proved false in the first half Wednesday, as the Clippers' inconsistent defensive effort picked up where it left off against the Phoenix Suns. The Bobcats shot 51.3 percent, scored 26 points in the paint and got to the free-throw line 12 times, essentially toying with the Clippers' porous D.
The second half, however, featured considerably better defensive intensity from Los Angeles, with the Clippers rotating on a string and generally stymying the Bobcats' first option on a given possession.
Charlotte's 28th-ranked offense hung around as long as it could, but a barrage of Jared Dudley 3-pointers in the third quarter and Blake Griffin 18-footers in the fourth -- coupled with the Clippers' defense -- guided L.A. to a convincing 112-85 victory.
How it happened: Paul had a monster first half, scoring 17 points and dishing out seven assists, but the Clippers -- despite shooting 56.1 percent -- couldn't find their footing defensively and were tied 56-56 at halftime.
L.A. tightened up its defense in the third quarter, holding Charlotte to 13 points on 21.1 percent shooting and, in the process, expanded its lead to as many as 13. The Bobcats briefly cut the lead to 11 in the fourth before Griffin's four consecutive jumpers stretched it to 19 and sealed the win.
What it means: The Clippers start the new year with a win, and an impressive one at that. Their occasional defensive malaise is slightly discouraging this deep into the season, but when they’re clicking, they can suffocate nearly any offense, as they showed in the second half.
Though the Bobcats (14-19) have a sub-.500 record, they still boast the fourth-best defense in the league, so there's also some merit in dropping 112 points on them.
Hits: Griffin had 31 points and 12 rebounds, highlighted by his second-half shooting display, which included a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
Paul finished with 17 points and 14 assists.
Dudley broke out of his recent shooting slump and scored 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Clippers had 36 assists on 47 field goals (76.6 percent of their baskets).
Stat of the game: 24.3 percent. That was the Bobcats’ shooting percentage in the second half, after scorching L.A. for 51.3 percent in the first. As a result, Charlotte scored only 29 points in the final 24 minutes.
Up next: The Clippers (22-12) have little time to savor their bounce-back victory, as they head to Texas for a tough two-game trip against the Dallas Mavericks (19-13) on Friday and the San Antonio Spurs (25-7) on Saturday.