Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Chris Paul was an absolute juggernaut this evening from tip-off until final buzzer as he played his way to 40 points on 13-20 shooting, 8 rebounds, 13 assists, and 2 steals. This wasn’t just a great performance from a future Hall of Famer, but arguably one of the best individual statlines he has put up in his career to date.
That was … third-quarter brilliance: Down by 3 at halftime and struggling to both defend or keep Sacramento off the glass, the Clippers turned the game on its head in the third, winning the period 34-16. Nearly everything went right for LAC in those twelve minutes of play, as they made 13 of their 19 shots overall while holding the Kings to 4 of 14 from the field.
X factor: Paul Pierce did not travel to Sacramento for the game, giving Jeff Green the chance to start his first game in a Clippers uniform. He responded by scoring 22 points on 9-13 shooting, even going 4-5 from beyond the arc.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Three angles of DeMarcus Cousins drilling Chris Paul in the back with the ball to save possession https://t.co/RTiiq3Hfuv
— Six Second Sports (@sixsecsports) February 27, 2016
With Friday's win in Sacramento, Clippers still haven't lost consecutive games since Blake Griffin's injury
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 27, 2016
Chris Paul is 1/6 players since 1985-86 w/ 40+ pts, 13+ asts, 8+ rebs & 2+ stls and the only player to do so in < 40 mins, per Clippers PR.
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) February 27, 2016
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The Inconvenient Truth
In a season where Kobe Bryant is getting an overdue retirement tour, Paul Pierce is in uniform for the first time for one of his hometown teams.
The Truth isn’t having a retirement tour. He’s not even in a contract year. This is expected to be his final NBA season, but there’s no guarantee or anything. Ask and he’ll tell you – he’s not signing memorabilia for other players or getting gifts or anything like that. (And he wouldn’t. Except for maybe fellow Jayhawk Cole Aldrich.)
Paul Pierce is an intangibles asset for sure. But he’s more dependent on his three-pointer than ever, which is a really bad thing considering that he’s shooting 31 percent from there this season. The Clippers are a much better team offensively when Pierce isn’t on the court.
Well, Pierce was out again tonight, opening up a starting spot for Jeff Green. Green had a nice matchup against the defenseless Kings, but he still did work with 22 points and a win. Green hadn’t scored 20+ points in a win as a starter since November. Obviously, it took a Pierce rest day for Green to get 30 minutes and 13 shots.
This isn’t about Jeff Green, who will have minutes competition when Blake Griffin returns. It’s about Pierce. He’s an awesome presence, but the Lion that is L.A.’s March schedule approaches. What value is there in rolling Pierce out there for ceremonial starts at this point? Pierce’s unavailability improves the team on the floor … perhaps it’s time to think about what it would look like if you could keep the good of Pierce’s leadership without having him in the rotation. It’s a delicate situation for a head coach that could write a bestseller on delicate situations over the past several years.
Energy & Points in the Paint
The Clippers looked tired and sluggish during Wednesday’s lackluster loss at home to Denver. They were anything but that on this night. From the outset, the Clippers played an attacking style that is exceptionally true to their identity. You know the energy is right when Jeff Green is diving on the floor for a loose ball – or better yet, vintage moments like the Chris Paul to DeAndre Jordan lob; Jordan pogoing up to flush it with his left (off?) hand.
Paul set the table from the beginning and again in the third quarter when he fueled a run that ended in a 34-16 third quarter advantage that broke the game open. But here is what is amazing to wrap my head around: Paul feels like he continually absorbs nicks and bruises in an Iversonian type of way – constantly attacking, scoring, dishing, amid mounting offensive responsibilities. He is the focus of the defense virtually every possession. But the penchant to muscle his way through, like tonight’s 40-point, 13-assist effort, really does underscore the toughness that drapes his 6-foot frame.
A stat to always look at with the Kings is points in the paint – a battle the Clippers won 38-32. Sacramento ranks second in the league in that department (49-per game) so shaving nearly 17 points off of that average was a huge factor. Step one is cutting off the head of the snake, which to a large degree they did: they frustrated DeMarcus Cousins into just 3/13 shooting in the paint – instead making him earn his buckets at the line or on jumpers. Strategic or not, it proved beneficial – as did playing with an aggressive focus.