Tuesday and Wednesday mark the Clippers final contests against NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers mentioned how he will not miss the iconic player
“He’s inflicted pain on all of us,” Rivers said jokingly after the Clippers routed the Washington Wizards in a 114-109 victory. “It’s remarkable how long he’s played, how well he’s played. That part you’ll miss seeing, but I won’t actually miss him playing.”
The Clippers has clinched a fifth consecutive playoff berth this season and could possibly face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.
After 45 games, Forward Blake Griffin started for the Clippers for the first time in 2016 on Sunday.
“It was just nice to be back out there,” said Griffin. “Rhythm was pretty bad, my conditioning was a little better than I thought it was going to be, but not great.”
All Star guard Chris Paul led the Clippers with 27 points and 12 points and center DeAndre Jordan gained 12 rebounds. Center Marcin Gortat led the Wizard offense with 21 points. NBA all-star John Wall gained 13 assists. Forwards Otto Porter Jr and Markieff Morris got eight rebounds each.
The Clippers scored 10 points within the first 3 minutes of the game, Paul scoring a field goal in the first possession. Washington could not keep up, missing many shoots while the Clipper went on a 14-6 run.
“We missed a lot of good looks, but we stuck with it,” said Wizards head coach Randy Wittman. “I felt pretty good about the shots we missed, and I knew if we kept getting those shots in the second half that we could make a game of it.”
Then came the signature staple, Paul sends the ball up for Griffin to complete the Alley Oop, much to the delight of the 19,060 people in attendance, according to ESPN.
“It was the first time ever thinking ‘please don’t throw it too high’” Griffin said. “I was a little worried, but it felt good to get that in transition and get a play on both ends.”
With a layup from center Marcin Gortat, the Wizards would reach 10 points with 5:08 left in the first quarter. However, Washington was 11 points behind. The Clippers ended the quarter with a 10 point lead.
At the beginning of the second quarter, all the starters sat on the point cushion they made in the first. A pair of free throws and a dunk from guard Garrett Temple would bring the deficit up to 7 points for the Wizards. Field goals from the Clippers would keep the Wizards at a safe distance. As the second quarter progressed, Doc Rivers slowly substituted the starters back in the game.
The Wizards’ frontcourt had the size to keep Jordan outside of the paint, allowing for close and mid-range offensive opportunities. Late in the second quarter, Washington relied on lay-ups and jumpers to earn points. Both teams had five turnovers, but the Clippers shot at 57.8 percent in field goals while the Wizards shot at 36.5 percent by halftime.
The Clippers maintained dominance over the game with 60-49 score over the Wizards. Forward Markieff Morris orchestrated a comeback for the Wizards, he scored 10 points in the third quarter alone. Washington filled up the deficit to a one point difference. A 3-pointer from Reddick and jumpers from Paul kept the Wizards trailing. In three regulated minutes, the Clippers went from a one point lead to a 12-point lead.
“The thing that really hurt us was when we started the third quarter on a 9-0 run, and then the Clippers answered back quickly with their own run to take away what we had just done,” said Wittman.
Scoring came slowly for the Clippers in the fourth quarter, taking them over three minutes to score. The game looked like it belonged to Los Angeles until guard John Wall hit a 3-pointer to bring the score to 101-106 with 1:55 left in the game. Perimeter shots from both Wall and Porter Jr would keep hope alive for the Wizards. Paul responded with a 3-pointer with less than 30 seconds left in the game securing their lead.
The Lakers visit the Clippers Tuesday at 7:30 and the Lakers host the Clippers on Wednesday at 7:30 in the Staples Center.