The Los Angeles Clippers narrowly escaped a Sacramento Kings fourth-quarter rally to win their season opener, 111-104 last night at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. The Sacramento Kings fought their way back from a 15-point deficit to take the lead in the final minutes of the game but the Clippers executed down the stretch despite committing careless turnovers in the fourth quarter.
With 2 minutes and 21 seconds left on the clock, forward Paul Pierce’s launched a 10-foot jumper preventing what would have been a massive disappointment for Clipper nation, breaking 100-100 tie. “I thought we did a great job in the first half. Second half, we didn’t do a good enough job of defending the 3. So, it’s something to look at, but I’m glad you could learn even in a win,” said Pierce. Pierce, playing his first game in a Clipper uniform clearly illustrated (as if there was a question) why Coach Doc Rivers wanted him in Clipper uniform as the Clippers closed the game with a 14-6 run to win the season opener. “That’s what he’s here for,” point guard Chris Paul said. “When you put me and Paul in that one-three pick and roll they have to make a choice. If you switch, you have a smaller guy on Paul. What are you going to do”? Clearly, the King’s and former teammate of Pierce, point guard Rajon Rondo could do very little in the closing minutes. “It was like a team win,” said Clippers Coach Doc Rivers and “that’s how you want to win.”
Indeed it was as forward Blake Griffin did what he normally does, working off the glass, and playing above the rim. He led all scorers with 33 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Chris Paul finished the night with 18 points, and 11 assists. “We have to figure out our identity, our defensive identity. …But at the end of the day, you have to win and figure it out at the same time,” said Chris Paul. The Clippers blocked nine shots with DeAndre Jordon and Josh Smith rejecting four each.
The Kings DeMarcus Cousins finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and eight turnovers. “At first we played terrible,” Cousins said. “The turnovers killed us, especially on my end. We could have done a better job sharing the ball. But that being said, we had a great chance of winning the ballgame.”
The Clippers take on the Dallas Mavericks tonight (October 29) at Staples Center, 7:30pm tip-off. The Kings host the LA Lakers on Friday, October 30.