By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
In the second game of the day at the newly named Crypto.com Arena, the western conferences’ eighth and ninth-seeded teams would meet up for the fourth time this season. On the first Sunday in April, with the playoffs just around the corner, the (34-43) New Orleans Pelicans came to face the Los Angeles Clippers on a three-game win streak and have won seven of the last ten games. Conversely, the (38-40) Los Angeles Clippers are 3-7 in their past ten games. Yet, this game would be for an opportunity to make the NBA playoff play-in tournament.
“We haven’t talked about it yet,” said Pelicans coach Willie Greene said of the importance of this game pre-game. “But I think the guys are aware of the magnitude of this game,” Green added.
“This is an important game. We understand if we win tonight, we have a chance to win two games to win one.” Clippers Ty Lue said in his laid-back style. “The biggest thing is, having that defensive mindset.” That’s what coach Lue said he wanted to see from the team in this game.
The Clippers were coming off their record-setting performance when they put up a franchise-high 153 points in their last game against the defending champions. The Clippers drained at least 23 threes, in a single game, for only the third time in franchise history. They followed that up with 21 made three-pointers against the Pelicans, and for the first time in franchise history, the Clippers made at least 20 threes in consecutive games.
Marcus Morris Sr. opened the first quarter by knocking down his first two three-pointers, following suit his teammate Paul George would knock down all four of his three-pointers, in that initial quarter. C.J. McCollum led the Pelicans with 12 points in that first quarter and shot 71% from the floor, and hit two three-pointers himself.
The Clippers extended their lead after the first quarter by limiting the Pelicans to one made three-pointer in that second quarter. The Clippers held the Pelicans to 25 percent shooting in that stanza to take a 22 point lead into the locker room at the half. They displayed the exact mindset coach Lue wanted to see from the team pre-game.
The Clippers played with that defensive mindset all evening. It was never more prevalent than early in the fourth quarter when Terance Mann and Robert Covington double team the Pelicans guard. Covington got the steal and kicked the ball ahead to Reggie Jackson, who drove to the front of the hoop and flipped it back over his head to a trailing Terance Mann, who finished the play with an emphatic dunk.
After the second quarter, this game was never much in doubt. The Clippers, however, would use these final games to close the season strong and to build on their chemistry as they prepare for the playoffs. Evidence of this chemistry, could be seen in the box score, which showed the Clippers having six players in double figures midway through the fourth quarter. Led by Marcus Morris’s 22 points and his four of six three pointers tonight.
“Just having a lot of veterans around that know how to balance the season out,” Morris said about the team staying alive for the playoffs throughout the season. “You go through a couple of tough stretches, and you put some games together and try to stay afloat. I think they did a great job with that. Obviously, you have to have some guys that are playing some big-time basketball,” Morris Sr., added.
Kindly share your thoughts on the Clippers season thus far. I think making the playoffs with their key players missing says a lot about the resiliency of the team and the job Ty Lue has done as a head coach this season. Let me know your thoughts on the Clippers by reaching out to me on Twitter @whatsgoodnsport or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d also encourage you to forward any suggestions on what topics or angles about this new version of the Los Angeles Clippers you would like to read about this season.
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