LOS ANGELES — After Sacramento’s dominant fourth quarter to dismantle the Clippers on Tuesday night, Chris Paul described the Kings celebration akin to them having won a championship.
Clearly the win meant something to the Kings –defeating the Clippers for the first time in two years and bumping them from third to fourth in the Western Conference standings –but did the loss mean anything to the Clippers?
Paul said it had to mean as much to the guys in his locker room.
On Wednesday, playing in the second game of a back-to-back, the team played as if it meant something, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers, 101-72.
The win over Philadelphia (26-41) continued the Clippers (47-22) current streak of alternating wins and losses in each of their last nine games. With Memphis’ win over Oklahoma City on Wednesday night, the Clippers remain in fourth place in the Western Conference standings.
When the 76ers opened the game on an 8-0 run, it didn’t look as if the Clippers learned their lesson from the previous night in Sacramento.
When the Clippers ended the first quarter shooting just 32 percent from the field and tied 20-20 with a team that owned just six road wins, it looked like as if the Clippers’ sluggish legs and early struggles would be a storyline throughout as they tried to get through a back-to-back.
However somewhere in the second quarter a switch was flipped and it was Paul getting things rolling knocking down a 20-footer to give the Clippers a 46-36 lead at the half.
The offensive groove the team found itself in continued in the third quarter which allowed them to open up the game.
That featured more Paul, who scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter. They eventually blew the doors open in the fourth. More on that in a bit.
However, it was the defense that started to take form as well.
“Our defense started creating our offense,” Paul said. “We were able to get out (in transition). Get a couple of lobs, a couple of fouls and stuff like that, so we just played the right way.”
Philadelphia shot just 37 percent from the field and just 30 percent from three –a lesson learned from the previous night when the Kings made half of their three point attempts.
The 72 points by the Sixers ties their second lowest total on the season.
The Clippers knew they had to get back to doing things right on the defensive end. They held Philadelphia all-star and former Campbell Hall prep star Jrue Holiday to just two points on 1-of-8 shooting. He had just four assists which is also well below his average.
“Jrue Holiday is a great player but he had a tough game and (Paul) kind of took him out what they wanted to do and we just followed his lead,” said Jamal Crawford.
Now back to the fourth quarter. The depth, which has been a strength for the team all season, showed itself on Wednesday night. This wasn’t a game dominated by the Clippers stars.
Sure, Paul had his 19 points and nine assists, while Blake Griffin wowed the Staples Center crowd by throwing a couple of lobs to Deandre Jordan. However, Griffin and Jordan combined for just 13 points.
Ryan Hollins scored 10 points. Maalik Wayns chipped in nine going up against his hometown team, and on his 33rd birthday, Crawford added 12 points as the bench increased the Clippers 16-point lead heading into the fourth quarter instead of it being the other way around to give the starters some much needed rest.
Paul was the only starter to play more than 26 minutes, while the Clippers bench outscored Philadelphia’s 42-25.
As head coach Vinny Del Negro described it, it was a “solid” overall win.
“Even when we made mistakes we had so much effort and hustle all over the place that we were able to cover for each other,” Crawford said. “It’s amazing what happens when you do that.”