Jamal Crawford’s long 3-point shot attempt as time was running out hit the front of the rim and fell off and the Clippers were defeated by the New Orleans Pelicans 98-96 at New Orleans on Wednesday.
It was a stunning loss for the Clippers (50-22) on the first leg of a five-game road trip because they had previously defeated the Pelicans (31-40) three times – twice by 13 points and once by 32.
Equally stunning was that point guard Chris Paul missed all 12 of his field goal attempts. He finished with two points and 12 assists.
Crawford led the Clippers with 31 points. Blake Griffin scored 21 points and Matt Barnes had 14. DeAndre Jordan had eight points and 16 rebounds.
Anthony Morrow scored 27 points for New Orleans.
Next stop for the Clippers is Thursday at Dallas.
The 50-21 Clippers trail the 30-40 New Orleans Pelicans 55-52 at halftime in New Orleans.
Jamal Crawford has 19 points and Matt Barnes has 11 Los Angeles. But Blake Griffin has scored only eight and Chris Paul is scoreless after missing all six of his shots; Paul does have seven assists.
The game is being televised on Prime Ticket
This is the first game of a five-game road trip.
The Clippers begin a five-game road trip Wednesday at New Orleans. By the time they get back to Los Angeles, they most likely will have clinched a playoff berth.
Any combination of four Clippers wins and Phoenix losses will do just that. The Clippers (50-21) begin the trip in third place in the Western Conference standings behind front-running San Antonio (54-16) and Oklahoma City (52-19).
Even though the Clippers have won five of their past six road games, they are just 19-16 away from Staples Center. To Blake Griffin, that makes this upcoming five-game trip that begins Wednesday in New Orleans a rather big deal.
“I think it’s important, obviously, you know, for the standings and all that,” said Griffin, whose team is in third place in the Western Conference behind San Antonio and Oklahoma City. “But it’s also important for our own mental state, you know, winning games on the road and things like that. We haven’t really accomplished what we wanted to on the road, so this would be a good opportunity for us to really play against quality teams; obviously, teams who are fighting for a playoff position and also fighting to get into the playoffs.”
After New Orleans, the Clippers will be at Dallas (Thursday), Houston (Saturday), Minnesota (Monday) and Phoenix (April 2). Of the five, only New Orleans and Minnesota don’t have a realistic shot of making the playoffs.
The Clippers (50-21) are 31-5 at home, the best home record in the Western Conference and second in the league to Indiana (32-4).
- The Clippers had 13 turnovers against the worst team in the league, leading to this reaction from coach Doc Rivers: “I wasn’t really happy with us offensively tonight. I didn’t think we moved the ball a lot. And then I thought we were careless with the ball at times as well. But you know, I’ll take the win.” To be fair, the Clippers average 13.9 turnovers per game, so they came in under that. But again, this was against a Bucks team that came in 44 games under .500 at 13-57.
- It was the second game in succession where the Clippers had trouble putting away a far inferior team. It was the same way Saturday when the Pistons hung around until they were defeated 112-103 after trailing by just a point at halftime. Perhaps this is not a good thing. Then again, Chris Paul realizes not every can be wonderful: “I mean, you always want to play well, but you want to win well. It’s not going to be pretty every night. Tonight it was, do whatever you have to do to win.”
- The victory was the Clippers’ 50th of the season. It’s the second consecutive year in which they have reached that plateau. But it won’t mean a thing if they don’t get a chance to play for that ring, said Matt Barnes: “It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t advance in the playoffs. This team has come a long way, but we’re not into moral victories, we’re not taking winning-streak victories, we want to advance and we know we have a good enough team to win a championship.”
- Darren Collison, in his second game back after missing back-to-back games with a stomach virus, had a terrific overall game. He scored 15 points, made 5 of 9 from the field, 3 of 4 from 3-point range. In addition, he had six assists and zero turnovers and even blocked a shot.
- As uncool as it might have been for the Clippers to have struggled so mightily to beat the lowly Bucks, it could have been much worse. Had they lost that game, and that was a real possibility as they led by just four points with 3:24 to play, that could have been disastrous heading out for a five-game road trip. The psyche is a delicate thing. At least they won.
Matt Barnes was all smiles Monday. Other than a “bad thumb,” he proclaimed himself otherwise very healthy. But it was more than that.
Barnes’ Alma mater, UCLA, has made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and on Thursday will play Florida, the No. 1 seed in the South Region.
“I’m excited for them,” Barnes said at the shoot-around ahead of a 7:30 p.m. start against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks. “They’ve got a big-time offense. Defense is a little suspect.”
Barnes is aware that Florida is not only the top seed in the South, but the overall No. 1 seed.
“But the one thing about the tournament, you have to be hot at the right time,” he said.
DeAndre Jordan has 169 blocked shots this season. That’s 27 more than his previous best of 142 in the 2010-11 season, and there are still 12 games left in the regular season. His average of 2.4 is third best in the league.
Jordan is also averaging a league-high 13.7 rebounds. His previous best was 8.3 in 2011-12.
Teammate Jamal Crawford, for one, can’t say enough about the 6-foot-11 Jordan.
“He’s the defensive player of the year,” Crawford said at Monday’s shoot-around ahead of the Clippers’ game against the Milwaukee Bucks at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center. “He’s unbelievable. I mean, sometimes we’ll get beat and we’ll look up in the air, and we know he’s there.
“I mean, it’s not a good thing to have, but I guess it is a good thing to have in that respect. I think his impact on defense has been as good or better than anyone else in the league.”
When the Clippers entered the locker room at halftime of Saturday’s 112-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons, the coaching staff was not thrilled with them. After leading by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and by 10 at the end of the quarter, they were outscored 29-20 in the second by a Pistons team that came in 25-43.
Blake Griffin talked about what was said by head coach Doc Rivers and company at intermission.
“Doc said we had a whole lot of unnecessary energy,” Griffin said. “I think their (coaches) point was just that when things started going bad, when they made a run, we just kind of had bad energy.
“We didn’t put our heads down and work harder, we just kind of gave up, and that’s on me just as much as anybody. So I’m proud of how we responded.”
The Clippers (49-21), who host Milwaukee on Monday at 7:30 p.m., outscored the Pistons 24-15 in the third quarter and played their best defense of the game.
Chris Paul had 15 assists in Saturday’s 112-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons at Staples Center. The 6,000th of his career went to Blake Griffin late in the first quarter.
Afterward, there was a lot of talk about Paul’s milestone, including some from Griffin.
“It says a lot about him,” Griffin said. “That’s a great accomplishment and, obviously, he still has a lot more left to do. But it’s fun playing with a guy that makes the game easier for you like that.”
It’s true the Clippers’ road record of 19-16 is not terrific. However, during their recent 11-game winning streak, they did win all five of their away games.
Interestingly, coach Doc Rivers said that is all immaterial as it relates to the playoffs, which begin in less than a month.
“It doesn’t matter right now,” Rivers said ahead of Saturday’s game against the visiting Detroit Pistons. “We’re going to have to win on the road in the playoffs. Bottom line. Whether we lose the rest of the road games in the regular season, we’re going to have to go in somebody’s building and win a big game on the road.
“That’s just it. There is no preparation for that, there really isn’t. You can win all your regular season road games, it still doesn’t prepare you for it. You’ve just gotta to out and win on the road, and you’ve gotta know that going into it. And if you don’t, then we’ll be back home, and that’s a fact.”