LOS ANGELES – The Clippers (41-29) end a three game losing streak behind a strong defensive performance, throttling a depleted Cavalier (45-23) team without LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, 108-78.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers 108-78 win.
1) “Frustration is good” – Pregame Doc Rivers discussed his team’s recent shortcomings and the aura of frustration, saying it is okay to feel that way, and it’s a good thing because “it means they are looking [for the answer], but we have to fix it.”
Tonight, the Clippers took a step towards relieving their frustrations. J.J. Redick previously voiced his concerns about the defense, and the Clippers responded well. They held the Cavaliers to 31 points in the first half, the fewest an opponent has scored in the first half since 2014 against Philadelphia (30). The Cavaliers did not make a three pointer in the half, going zero for 13 and only scored two second chance points, much in part to DeAndre Jordan’s first half double double, 11 points and 11 rebounds, his 31st double-double of the season
The strong defensive effort continued in the second half, allowing a total of 78 points.
2) Slow start for both teams – The STAPLES Center was hushed for most of the first 18 minutes of the game, with never much of a reason to cheer. Over the quarter and a half span, the Cavaliers and Clippers were tied at 24, and the two teams shot a combined one of 23 from behind the arc. Both were below 35-percent shooting from the field in plain, ugly start to the basketball game.
3) J.J. Redick sparks second quarter run – After the uncharacteristicly slow start, J.J. Redick propelled the Clippers’ on a 23-8 run, scoring seven points and also providing some much needed energy for the arena. In the halfcourt, Redick curled off screens creating space for midrange jumpers, and ran the lane hard in transition, hitting a three himself and opening up space for others. Redick finished the game with 16 points, making two threes.
Redick’s second quarter three pushed him into 50th all time in three pointers made with 1,235, passing Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews. Next on Redick’s path is Damon Stoudemire with 1,236.
4) Blake Griffin spectacular third quarter distances Clippers for good- Ending the first half with an emphatic dunk, Griffin played the third quarter with much of the same pizzazz, scoring 13 points in the quarter. Griffin got his buckets in a variety of ways, hitting a midrange pull up jumper off the dribble, making a catch and shoot three, his 21st on the season, a single season career best. Once the Cavaliers defense shifted more of their attention to Griffin following the scoring barrage, Griffin utilized his superior passing ability, connecting with Jordan on an and-one lob, and finding Jamal Crawford (13 points, three assists) on the wing for a three.
Griffin finished the game with a team-high 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
5) Clippers take advantage of resting Cavaliers – Pregame, the Cavaliers announced their three All-Stars, James, Irving, and Love, would not be playing. The matchup between the two teams drastically changed, a game the Clippers could have used as a measuring stick against one of the league’s best turned into a game of self discipline and playoff seeding.
With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Clippers sit in the fifth seed, a half game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The difference between the fifth seed and the sixth seed is playing the Utah Jazz or the Houston Rockets, a team that has destroyed the Clippers this season, with an average margin of victory of 21.5 points.
Still in reach of the Clippers is the fourth seed, as they are 2.5 games back of the Jazz, and the teams have one more game remaining on March 25.
What’s Next? – The Clippers play Monday, March 20, at home against the New York Knicks.