The Clippers held a 9-point lead to start the 2nd quarter. By the time Chris Paul returned at the 4:05 mark of the period, the lead had ballooned to 26.
Mike Smith mentioned during the telecast that the Clippers second unit holds the largest 2nd quarter scoring differential. Tonight, it looked like it. Mostly, they looked like the second unit last witnessed in early November, and a lot of that was due to the little things. Mo Speights grabbing rebounds and taking charges. Austin Rivers scoring right at the basket. Repeatedly forcing the Lakers into late-clock shot attempts. And while they didn’t fare nearly as well in garbage time against the Lakers starters, it reminded of what this unit can be.
X-Factor: Tonight marked the 8th occasion in their time as teammates that Chris Paul and J.J. Redick both score over 20 points in the same game, and the two had already combined for 30 points by the end of the first half. Beyond the scoring, though, the first half as a whole displayed the total effort and level of play both offensively and defensively that has largely been missing from Clippers basketball the past couple of months.
In the first 18 minutes, the Clippers scored 54 points and the Lakers 29 on 34 possessions. The former is breaking my chart. pic.twitter.com/W8pA172RLZ
— Positive Residual (@presidual) March 22, 2017
Major Moment: Off a free throw attempt by Julius Randle, Marreese Speights placed his inbound pass in the hands of Jamal Crawford. With a few ticks over 2 seconds left in the third quarter, Crawford darted up towards the Lakers logo, and just beyond halfcourt, threw up a rainbow that seemed to reach as high as the balcony seats. It landed 46 feet ahead, touching nothing but the bottom of the net. The three points placed the reigning sixth-man ahead of Calvin Murphy for 69th on the NBA’s All-Time scoring list.
We'll just leave this right here for your viewing pleasure. pic.twitter.com/qh3ra6QXuO
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 22, 2017
The Definition: Just five days ago, it looked as if the Clippers might be at risk of falling out of the five seed and losing hope to secure homecourt in a potential first-round matchup against the Jazz. Three wins later, and they now find themselves within a half game of the fourth seed and a couple games ahead of the sixth-place Thunder. Beyond the standings, though, the continued optimism for these Clips remains in how they’ve looked on the floor in their last three wins.
There are still moments where the team is too reliant on their offense. There were even moments early in this game where the team looked a step slow to get into their spots in the halfcourt. But just like how those moments appeared less after the first quarter against the Cavs, they’ve also appeared less and less as they played on against the Lakers tonight.