After a disastrous trip in China, the Los Angeles Clippers returned home to close the preseason on a positive note.
First was Tuesday night’s matchup with the defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Clippers got 29 points on 18 shots in 25 minutes from PF Blake Griffin in a 130-95 win. The Warriors didn’t play MVP PG Stephen Curry (rest), Finals MVP backup SF Andre Iguodala (rest), or C Andrew Bogut (broken nose). The Clippers played everyone, and Lance Stephenson started at SF. PG Chris Paul got himself ejected. Backup Warriors PG Shaun Livingston got fussy.
— Monte Poole (@MontePooleCSN) October 21, 2015
We should move on, because this is dumb, but how can we? Even with the NBA division abolition movement, the Warriors and Clippers are going to be coming at each other all season. The Warriors are extra sensitive, but they’re the defending champions. It’s their world until they are eliminated. The Clippers have been antagonized for any reason you can insert here, big or small, fair or not. They can go on a 16-game winning streak, and it won’t matter unless it comes in the postseason. It’s the whole that the franchise was in as Donald Sterling owned the team, and now there are new tunnels to navigate after consecutive postseason collapses. The Clippers are extra sensitive too. Folks are going to find it difficult to associate their basketball feelings with the Clippers, and that’s just how it is.
So yes, Tuesday night’s meaningless preseason game meant a little something to the Clippers. And while we’re at it, Thursday night’s meaningless preseason game wound up meaning something to the Clippers as well.
The Portland Trail Blazers (better known to casuals as “Damian Lillard”) had a 64-29 lead with 5:52 left in the 1st half. They dropped 45 points in the 1st quarter! And this wasn’t a rest situation for the Clip Show; Stephenson started again alongside Paul, Griffin, SG J.J. Redick, and C DeAndre Jordan. Getting mollywhopped at home in the last preseason game wasn’t going to be excusable.
The Clippers started to get hot to close the 2nd quarter, closing things out on a 25-8 run. They pulled within 10 in the 3rd quarter. But the 4th quarter was special, featuring The Truth:
Paul Pierce 4 3-pointers 14 points in the 4th quarter vs the Blazers pic.twitter.com/02AzkqEPTw
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 23, 2015
The Clippers survived 39 points from Lillard and a 35-point deficit to win 115-109. Pierce and backup PG Austin Rivers combined to score 35 points off the bench. SG Jamal Crawford missed the game with a triceps contusion, but he is expected to be fine.
Going forward, the Clippers have a decision to make as far as the roster goes. C Cole Aldrich didn’t play last night, but he is a lock to make the team, along with PG Pablo Prigioni, SF Wesley Johnson, and PF Josh Smith. That makes 12 players. Out of SG C.J. Wilcox, SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF Branden Dawson, and C Chuck Hayes, at least one has to go. Rivers has usually kept a roster spot open to start the season as well. It would be a surprise to see Wilcox or Dawson let go, as there aren’t many young players on this team. But then again, the Clippers aren’t going to be using the D-League either. Hayes is the player I would be most surprised to make the team. He just hasn’t been on the court much over the last few seasons.
Stay tuned here, as the ClipperBlog staff previews the 2015-2016 NBA season!
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