Clippers earn first win in New Orleans since ’05
Boston, Memphis, and Denver were the last three teams to enter the Crescent City and they were all turned aside.
The Hornets entered Wednesday night winners of three in a row on their current home stand with wins over some of the NBA’s best and in decisive fashion.
They were holding opponents to just 85 points a game during the win streak. New Orleans had been unkind to the Clippers recently but they avoided a similar fate defeating the Hornets, 105-91, to come away with their first win in New Orleans since 2005.
The win is No. 49 on the season for the Clippers, tying the franchise
record with the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves for most wins in a season.
They’re now third in the Western Conference, a half game ahead of fourth
The Clippers 12-point lead was shaved down to eight, 99-91, after a lob from Greivis Vasquez was tipped in by Anthony Davis with just over two and a half minutes play.
Davis finished with 19 points and nine rebounds in front of a crowd that included his college coach, John Calipari, sitting courtside next to New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
The Hornets had an opportunity to cut the lead to six points on their next possession, but Blake Griffin stepped in and intercepted a Robin Lopez pass as he tried to go high-low with Davis.
Paul came down and hit a floater in the lane on the ensuing possession to push the lead back to 10 points, 101-91, and the Hornets were held scoreless the rest of the way.
For Paul, it was his first win in New Orleans against his old mates.
The game marked the return of Chauncey Billups, who missed the previous three games with a groin injury.
Billups scored 11 points in 13 minutes on Wednesday, helping to ignite a Clippers rally towards the end of the first half.
The Clippers made eight straight shots to end the half on a 17-7 run. Three of those were Billups’ buckets from beyond the arc to lift the Clippers to a 56-48 lead at halftime.
“Chauncey Billups was huge for us in the first half getting us that separation and this is how we need to play in order to win games,” said Paul, who finished with 16 points, nine assists, and four steals.
However, Billups would leave the game in the third quarter after re-aggravating his groin injury. He’s listed as day-to-day.
While the contribution from Billups from beyond the arc was beneficial for the Clippers, defensively they were able to limit the Hornets’ success from three.
New Orleans was just 4-of-14 from beyond the arc. Leading scorer Ryan Anderson was held to just eight points and missed all four of his three-point attempts. He’s now 0 for his last 12 from beyond the arc against the Clippers.
Similar to the last time the Clippers lost the first game of a back-to-back, it was the bench that helped them bounce back with a win on the second night.
The Clippers led 79-77 at the end of the third quarter. They began the fourth quarter with Paul and the rest of the Clippers starters on the bench.
By the time Paul returned to the game at the 3:51 mark, the lead was up to 11, 98-87.
NBA Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford paced the second unit with 13 points. He was one of five Clippers in double figures.
“Jamal got going there in the fourth (quarter),” head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “I thought Eric Bledsoe and Ryan Hollins gave us really good energy. …Those guys came in and gave us a big boost (and I) was able to rest Chris a little bit and Blake (Griffin) at times.
“(New Orleans) played very hard. They’ve been playing very hard, so this is a good win for us.”