In the last game of 2017, the Los Angeles Clippers erased a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center on New Years Eve. The first quarter proved to be a challenge offensively for everyone except Clippers Lou Williams, who came off the bench and scored 11 points in less than four minutes, including three 3-pointers.
“I always feel like I can get it going, but to see it kind of puts me in a different mindset … just puts me in attack mode,” said Williams, who ended the first quarter with 16 points off the bench. “I was just playing, playing with confidence. [I] was able to get out to a good start …you know, just goes up from there.”
The Clippers were then outscored 39-13 in the second quarter. Rookie Jawun Evans who received his first career start for the Clippers, got into foul trouble with three fouls at halftime. Both Williams and Kemba Walker for the Hornets scored 20 first half points. The Hornets led by as many as 14 points in the first half and went into halftime with a 52-42 lead.
Williams took the Clippers halftime deficit personal. He had some words for the Clippers second unit according to head coach Doc Rivers.
“What people don’t see, he let the second unit have it at halftime,” Rivers said. “I kind of stood out and waited for him to be finished, and he went a long time, he really rolled them. He kept using the word ‘we,’ which I thought was very nice, you know. So he’s leading as well.”
The Clippers came out of the halftime break and outscored the Hornets 33-14 in the third quarter.
“We didn’t come out strong enough in the third quarter,” remarked Hornets forward Frank Kaminsky, who finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.
DeAndre Jordan was the catalyst for the Clippers second half push. Jordan, who is typically known as one of the worst free throw shooters in the league, shot six for six from the free throw line. Jordan also grabbed 15 rebounds in the game.
The Clippers gained the lead with four minutes left in the third quarter thanks to a 3-pointer by Blake Griffin. In his second game back after missing 14 games due to a MCL sprain, Griffin added 25 points. That 3-pointer lifted the Clippers to a 75-66 lead as the team entered the fourth quarter.
The Clippers led 100-92 before Walker made back-to-back 3-pointers to put Charlotte within four points with less than a minute left. Griffin got to the free throw line and sunk a pair of free throws. Nicolas Batum missed a 3-pointer for the Hornets. Williams put the game away with a driving layup for his 40th point of the game.
“He was just a nightmare tonight,” said Kaminsky on Williams’ performance.
Though an offensive struggle for both teams, the Clippers outshot the Hornets 47 percent to 39 percent on the night. The Los Angeles Clippers came off of a win against the Lakers when Austin Rivers left the game early due to a sore right achilles.
“Hopefully we’ll get healthy over the next month or so, and we talk about it all the time, making this push,” Griffin said.
The Clippers have now won five of their last six games and stand just 1.5 games out of the Western Conference playoff picture.