It’s been a long season. There’s been 17-game win streaks, a bench named after an old-school rap group, unparalleled camaraderie, injuries, .500 basketball, chemistry issues, broken records and lots of lobs, among other things. It all came down to game 82, with home-court advantage on the line, against a feisty Sacramento Kings squad potentially playing the last game ever in Sleep Train Arena.
The Clippers didn’t play great — if anything, they played subpar — but they got the win, and that’s all that matters at this point. Jamal Crawford set the franchise record for most 3-pointers in a single season (149), and the Clippers set records for most wins at home (32) and on the road (24) this year. As a result, the Clippers will face the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night in the bloodbath we’re all looking forward to. Expect a series of low-scoring grudge-matches, a full-on war in the paint, and possibly seven down-to-the-wire games. (I have the Clippers in seven games.) Onto Last Call:
Los Angeles Clippers
Recap | Box score
X factor: Scramble plays. Marcus Thornton and Jamal Crawford traded shots and lived off the chaotic play, but the Clippers were able to restore order a little more effectively thanks to Chris Paul.
Well that was … the end? In what may have been the last game in Sacramento, the Kings fought incredibly hard to the very end, even with the deck stacked against them. Now the fight moves away from the court.
MVP: Jamal Crawford. A career night from DeMarcus Cousins kept the Kings in it, but Crawford’s two dagger 3-pointers eventually locked up the game and home-court advantage in the playoffs for the Clippers.
— D.J. Foster
Tweet(s) of the Game
Booooo Jamal Crawford, booooo
— Chris Vernon (@ChrisVernonShow) April 18, 2013
Til now, 125 of 126 teams to win at least 56 games since league went to current format had home court advantage in 1st round. #onepercenters
— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) April 18, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per 36 Stat O’ The Night
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Jordan highlights the numerous positives of the Clippers’ season, Andrew says their statistical resumé is equivalent of a 61-win team, and Fred explains why the Memphis matchup is the most fun of all.
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The Unintended Dress Rehearsal
Even though the Clippers played rather poorly last night, it could be written off to an extent. The Clippers starters turned it on to open the second half, leaving the second unit with an almost 30-point margin when they exited en masse near the end of the third quarter.
Tonight, neither the starters nor the normally reliable bench squad were able to gain any sort of comfortable cushion against the Kings. Since this game had playoff implications, even more clear and present than last night, this was a serious let down.
The only player that resembled his expected playoff form was the unbelievable Chris Paul. He put up a magical 11 assists on zero turnovers and 35 points on 20 shots. Even as his team mounted a comeback in the final minutes, it was Chris Paul’s orchestrations that delivered the Clippers the open looks they needed.
But if the Point God is expected to assert his divine will against these lowly Kings, then what burdens will his teammates place on him come Saturday against a hostile Grizzlies squad?
– Michael Shagrin
Sacramento deserves better.
They don’t deserve to have the season end with the future of their team in limbo. A fan base that has thousands of fans willing to stay an hour after the game (the 54th loss of the season, mind you) to swing a few verses of “Sweet Caroline” doesn’t deserve to have their team taken away from them.
On the other hand, the people of Seattle didn’t deserve it in 2008, either, but they had the misfortune of seeing their team depart for a new home. Two wrongs don’t make a right (three lefts do), but it’s unfathomably difficult for me to reconcile my overwhelming desire to see the NBA return to Seattle, but also my overwhelming desire to see the Kings stay in Sacramento. At least for right now, we can’t have both.
Just look at the outpouring of support the community has shown for a crappy, dysfunctional team headlined by moaners and malcontents. Imagine what they’d do if the team was GOOD.
One way or the other, it appears the Maloof family will mercifully relinquished control of the team. It’s still unclear who will be taking over the reigns from here. Two competing groups, one from Seattle, one from Sacramento, are trying to secure a controlling interest in the franchise. Whichever one comes out on top will decide where the team will call home, perhaps as soon as next season.
All of this is still up in the air, so for now, we say good-night, but not good-bye, to Sacramento.
– Jeremy Conlin
Crawford’s Record-Setting Night
As Crawford’s third 3-pointer sank through the net, he passed Rasual Butler (145) for the most 3-pointers in a single season by a Clipper. By the time the game was over, Crawford had made six 3-pointers, setting the new mark at 149. His last two 3-pointers, though, were arguably the most important. First, he gave the Clippers a 100-98 lead off a step-back 3-pointer with 2:08 left. Then he made a corner 3 to put the Clips up 103-98 with 1:37 remaining. Griffin and Paul made key baskets down the stretch, and Billups nailed important free throws, but Crawford’s 24 points and six assists were the difference.
“Jamal Crawford made big shot after big shot,” Paul said after the game.
– Jovan Buha at ESPN LA