Five things to take from Clippers’ 119-117 loss at Oklahoma City

Jamal Crawford, center, of the Clippers shoots a 3-pointer during the Clippers’ 119-117 loss Thursday at Oklahoma City/AP photo by Alonzo Adams


– The Clippers rested starters Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan and still nearly pulled off what would have been quite an upset had they emerged victorious at Chesapeake Energy Arena. That, alone, is impressive.

– The Clippers were close due in large part to the play of Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers. They started at the guard spots for Redick and Paul and came through with 32 points apiece. Crawford also had seven assists and two steals. Rivers also had four rebounds, five assists and two steals. Crawford played 39 minutes and 57 seconds, Rivers played 39 minutes and 13 seconds. Rivers shot 7 of 9 from 3-point range.

– One has to wonder how the Clippers could get outrebounded 46-26 and still have a shot at winning the game. Well, it helps when you shoot extremely well. The Clippers shot 55.3 percent overall. More importantly, they went 16 of 29 from 3-point range, a tremendous 55.2 percent. By contrast, OKC shot just 31.2 percent (10 of 32) from beyond the arc.

– While the Clippers (47-28) were resting their stars, the Thunder (53-23) did not. Starters Kevin Durant (31 points), Russell Westrbrook (26) and Serge Ibaka (16) combined for 73 points. And the Clippers still almost beat them.

– By the time Thursday night was over, there was one very interesting item noted in the playoff standings. That would be sixth-place Portland now being just 1 1/2 games behind fifth-place Memphis in the Western Conference standings. If the Trail Blazers pass the Grizzlies, they will play the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, which begin in about 2 1/2 weeks. Portland (40-36) has six games left in the regular season, Memphis (41-34) has seven.

Jamal Crawford marvels at terrific game had by Austin Rivers at OKC

Adams' late basket lifts Thunder past Clippers 119-117

Austin Rivers, 25, of the Clippers takes a shot during the Clippers’ 119-117 loss Thursday night at Oklahoma City/AP photo by Alonzo Adams


Jamal Crawford scored 32 points in the Clippers’ 119-117 loss Thursday night at Oklahoma City. The Clippers, mind you, nearly won without the services of starters Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan. They all rested. That’s not to mention that Blake Griffin again was out, though he is slated to return Sunday at home against Washington.

As good as Crawford was – he was 10 of 20 from the field, 5 of 8 from 3-point range and also doled out seven assists – Austin Rivers was at least as good. Rivers also scored 32 points. He shot 12 of 19 – a magnificent 7 of 9 from deep. He also had four rebounds, five assists and two steals in 39 minutes.

Crawford, who also had two steals, marveled at his much younger teammate.

“He was spectacular,” Crawford said. “He really was. He made play after play. He read the defenses, he did a great job. He competed, he really did.”

The Clippers (48-27) had won four consecutive games.

Defense was the key to Clippers’ fourth consecutive victory

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Shabazz Muhammad, center, tries to get to the basket under pressure from Los Angeles Clippers forward Jeff Green, left, and guard Austin Rivers during the first half. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Jeff Green, left, of the Clippers and teammate Austin Rivers guard Shabazz Muhammad of the Minnesota Timbervolves during Wednesday’s game in Minnesota/AP photo by Ann Heisenfelt


Chris Paul knew only too well his Clippers had a rather mediocre game offensively Wednesday night when they played at Minnesota. But another fine defensive showing helped overcome that in the Clippers’ 99-79 victory, their fourth in a row.

“Yeah, if you think about it, we didn’t even have one of our great offensive nights,” Paul said. “Me and J.J. (Redick) missed a lot of great looks and we still were able to get the separation that we did because our defense was so consistent and just kept us in the game.”

The Clippers blocked nine shots with DeAndre Jordan getting three and Cole Aldrich, Wes Johnson and Jeff Green two apiece.

The Clippers (47-27) held Minnesota to 34.5 percent shooting, 34.8 (8 of 23) from 3-point range. The T’Wolves also failed at the free-throw line, making just 64.7 percent (11 of 17).

The Clippers shot 44 percent overall, just 29 percent (9 of 31) from deep. They shot 88.9 percent from the free-throw line, though, with Jordan (1 of 3) the only one who missed; Paul was 7 of 7.

Paul shot just 6 of 16 from the field, 1 of 4 from distance. Redick was 6 of 15 and 4 of 12.



After road-trip struggles, Clippers getting back on track defensively

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


Much had been made of the improving defense of the L.A. Clippers. Then the Clippers hit the road for five games beginning March 15 at San Antonio and allowed an average of 110 points while going 1-4 against the Spurs, Houston (the win), Memphis, New Orleans and Golden State.

The Clippers (46-27) have done well to right that ship over the past three games, allowing an average of just 91.3 points in victories over Portland, Denver and Boston.

Backup guard Austin Rivers led the Clippers with 16 points in Monday’s 114-90 rout of Boston at Staples Center. After the game, he said it about as well as it can be said.

“After that last road trip where we dropped a couple of games, we came home and we knew we had to get our defense right,” he said. “You can see how much that leads to better offense as well, just us defending.

“It has to be something that we do consistently and something that is a part of our identity in order for us to compete and beat the teams like the Spurs, Warriors and (Oklahoma City) Thunder in the playoffs.”

The leader of the pack has been DeAndre Jordan, who had three more blocked shots Monday after coming through with six the day before during a 105-90 win over Denver. Keep in mind that Jordan and the rest of the starters did not play in the fourth quarter of either game.

“My job is to play with defensive energy for this team, so any time I can do that it becomes contagious for the rest of the guys,” Jordan said. “We have a lot of energy guys, so they respond well when we pick up the intensity.”

Coach Doc Rivers was talking about Jordan’s defensive presence after Monday’s victory and recalled a conversation he had a a day earlier with Denver coach Mike Malone.

“Mike Malone was just telling me, ‘It’s amazing how many times guys just stop driving because he’s around, which you don’t see reflected in the stats,’” Doc Rivers said. “With his energy, his activity, and his voice – he is the loudest player on our team with his talk – he has taken another step defensively this year and he has been good for us.”

Five things to take from Clippers’ 114-90 victory over Celtics

DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers scores two of his 15 points on this dunk during the first half of the Clippers’ 114-90 victory over the Boston Celtics/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill


Doc Rivers and his players talked quite a bit about the defense the team played in this victory. The Celtics shot just 34.8 percent from the field and much of that was because of that defense. Boston’s Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 24 points, but he shot just 5 of 14 as 12 of his points came from the free-throw line.

– The starters did not have to play in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive game, thanks to a 22-point lead (92-70) after three quarters that quickly grew to 25 at the outset of the fourth. Rivers liked that. “It’s huge, it’s huge,” he said.

Paul Pierce was off to a fine start, scoring eight points on 4 of 6 shooting, when he went down with w right ankle sprain in the second quarter. Rivers said Pierce will be out for “a little bit. We don’t know how long yet.” Pierce also had three rebounds, two assists and a steal.

– The Clippers’ bench had a solid outing, scoring 67 of the team’s 114 points – more than half. Austin Rivers led the reserves – and the entire team – with 16 points. Jamal Crawford scored 15, Wes Johnson 11 and Jeff Green 10. That’s not to mention that Cole Aldrich had six points on 3 of 3 shooting and also pulled down seven rebounds in just under 14 minutes.

– By the time this night was over, it became apparent that there is a chance the Clippers will not be playing Memphis in the first round, as most are expecting. That’s because the Grizzlies lost at home to San Antonio and Portland defeated Sacramento. Memphis is in fifth-place in the Western Conference standings and would place the fourth-place Clippers if the standings don’t change. But the sixth-place Trail Blazers are now just 2 1/2 games behind the Grizzlies. Memphis has eight games remaining, Portland seven. If those two teams switch spots, the Clippers would play the Trail Blazers in the first round. There is little chance the Clippers won’t finish fourth.

Five things to take from Clippers’ 109-105 loss at New Orleans

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, center, sits on the bench because of injuries with teammates center Alexis Ajinca, right, and guard Tim Frazier, left, in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, March 20, 2016.

The Pelicans were without Anthony Davis (in the suit) on Sunday, but still managed to beat the Clippers 109-105 in New Orleans/AP photo by Max Becherer


– One of the first things that stands out is how many 3-point shot attempts the Clippers took and how few they made. The Clippers shot just 25.6 percent (10 of 39) from beyond the arc. The worst offenders were Wes Johnson (0 of 6), Austin Rivers (0 of 5), Paul Pierce (0-4) and Jamal Crawford (1 of 5). Hard to win like that, even against a Pelicans team missing Anthony Davis.

– This was the Clippers’ 39th game without forward Blake Griffin (quad, hand) and although they got off to a great start, reality seems to be setting in. The Clippers have lost four of their past five and six of their past nine and are now 26-13 sans Griffin.

J.J. Redick had a fine game. He scored 24 points and shot 9 of 11, 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Unfortunately for the Clippers, his marksmanship couldn’t off-set what was a team overall shooting percentage of 40.2.

DeAndre Jordan had just nine rebounds, well under his average of 13.9. It also marked the first time this season Jordan has had sub-10 rebounding games in succession. He pulled down only seven a night earlier in a loss at Memphis.

– The Pelicans committed 23 turnovers to just 14 for the Clippers. And the Pelicans still won. That’s because not only did they shoot better – 49.3 percent to 40.2 percent for the Clippers – they made their free throws. New Orleans shot 80 percent (32 of 40) from the free-throw line, the Clippers shot just 69 percent (29 of 42). DeAndre Jordan made 6 of 11. For him, that’s good.

BONUS TAKE: Good for the Clippers that they came from 14 down with 2:17 to play to trail by just a point twice in the final 27 seconds. But they never should have been down to a poor team missing its best player by 14 to begin with, even if they were the road team. The Pelicans are 26-43. The Clippers are 43-26.