Clippers lead Spurs 49-43 at halftime in Game 1 at Staples Center

Blake Griffin scored 13 points, Jamal Crawford had nine and Chris Paul and J.J. Redick seven apiece and the Clippers led the San Antonio Spurs 49-43 at halftime of Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series Sunday at Staples Center.

The Clippers shot 47.2 percent from the field.

Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with nine points. San Antonio shot just 35.6 percent.

DeAndre Jordan scored five points for the Clippers, all on free throws as the Spurs went to the Hack-a-DJ late in the half. Jordan was 5 of 12 from the free-throw line.

 

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Doc Rivers loves hard-working players like J.J. Redick and Blake Griffin

J.J. Redick/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers appear to be a team of hard-working players, the type who work and work on their game to make it better. But one would be hard-pressed to find two players who work harder than forward Blake Griffin and guard J.J. Redick, attests coach Doc Rivers.

“I have a gym full of talented players, but the special ones stand out,” said Rivers, whose team took on the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.. “And it’s usually not their athleticism. Everybody’s an athlete in the NBA. It’s all the other intangibles that makes them great. Mental toughness, their basketball IQ, their work habits, which I think gets overlooked by all of them.

“It’s no coincidence that when you walk in the gym, you look over there every day and there’s Blake. What I’m always amazed at, personally, is why the whole team doesn’t do that, you know? I think J.J. takes more shots than anybody on our team per day and so if your best shooter is doing that, it would just make sense that the guys who are under him would say, ‘Well, I think I need to take more shots than them to be a better shooter, or as good.’ ”

Redick is having his best season, averaging 16.4 points per game while shooting 47.7 percent from the field overall, 43.7 from 3-point range. All of those numbers are personal-bests.

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Chris Paul says Clippers definitely more prepared for this go-round with Spurs

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Chris Paul’s first season with the Clippers was 2011-12. Paul helped the Clippers to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, where they were swept by in four games by the San Antonio Spurs.

The Clippers will play the Spurs in the first round beginning Sunday night at 7:30 at Staples Center. Paul was queried at practice this week as to whether his team is more prepared for this go-round with San Antonio. Paul answered sharply.

“If we’re not better prepared now than we were three years ago,” Paul said, “then we probably shouldn’t even play.”

The team in ’11-’12 had Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin but not Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick or Jamal Crawford.

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There was joy in Clippers’ locker room after Duke won NCAA Tournament title

J.J. Redick

J.J. Redick/Photo  courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Clippers coach Doc Rivers after Tuesday night’s victory over the Lakers was asked to talk about what Duke winning the NCAA men’s title a night earlier might have meant to J.J. Redick, who played at Duke from 2002-06.

“He was happy,” Rivers said. “Him and Austin (Rivers) were obnoxious as ever. But it was good for them. Duke did what they needed to do. Even Ryan Kelly was talking to me during the game. He now has two rings (in his family). His freshman year, and his brother’s a walk-on, which is really cool that coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) did that and gave him a scholarship.

“So the Duke love is pretty strong right now, that’s for sure.”

Austin Rivers played at Duke from 2011-12. Neither he nor Redick won a title while there. Lakers forward Ryan Kelly played at Duke and the Blue Devils won a title while he was a freshman. Sean Kelly, Ryan’s brother, was a senior reserve this season for Duke. Another member of the Clippers, Dahntay Jones, also toiled at Duke, from 2001-03.

Duke won a title in March 2001, but Jones did not begin playing for the Blue Devils until the fall of 2001 for the ’01-’02 campaign.

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Five things to take from the Clippers’ 105-100 victory over the Lakers

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

- It figured it would be more difficult to dispatch the lowly Lakers in this one if for no other reason than professional pride. The Lakers were embarrassed Sunday, getting down by 43 points before losing by 28 (106-78) and there was probably no way that was going to happen again just two days later with that butt-kicking fresh in the minds of not only the Lakers, but the Clippers. It’s called human nature.

- Jamal Crawford’s return after missing the previous 17 games with a calf injury went about as expected. A rhythm shooter, Crawford was bound to be rusty, and he was. After making his first shot, he made only one more to finish 2 of 7 from the field with four points. Afterward, he said the 19 minutes felt more like 35 to his legs. Crawford should be back to being Crawford in another game or two.

- J.J. Redick once again improved upon the best season of his career by scoring 27 points. He made 9 of 14 from the field, 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Redick has leapfrogged Crawford as the team’s third-leading scorer at 16.4 points per game; Crawford is now at 16.2. Redick averaged 20.6 points in March and he’s at 22.3 in four games this month. He’s shooting 47.8 percent from the field, 43.9 from beyond the arc; both numbers are career bests. The 30-year-old is in his ninth season.

- Blake Griffin had a terrific game with 27 points on 11 of 20 shooting. He also had seven rebounds, six assists and a blocked shot. As important as any of that, Griffin hit a big jump-shot with 28.3 seconds to play that went a long way in staving off the hard-playing Lakers. That gave the Clippers a 100-94 lead.

- One of the best things about this game – certainly for the fans – is that Lakers coach Byron Scott did not resort to that ridiculous hack-a-DJ ploy, purposely fouling the poor free-throw shooting DeAndre Jordan. Jordan took just two shots from the free-throw line, missing both. He scored only eight points. But as he often does when he doesn’t score much, he pulled down a whopping 17 rebounds and blocked three shots.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 106-78 victory over hallway-neighbor Lakers

Chris Paul

Chris Paul doled out 15 assists in Sunday’s victory over the Lakers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

- Perhaps the best part about this victory is that the Clippers did not have a letdown against a very poor Lakers team that now has more losses (56) than any other Lakers’ team in franchise history. The Clippers led this game by as many as 43 points (99-56) by attacking and attacking some more until there was no doubt about the outcome.

- Since this was the Lakers’ home game, that meant it was a road game for the Clippers. With the victory they have now won a franchise-record 25 games away from home. As guard J.J. Redick said afterward about the record, “You have to have mental toughness.” At 25-15 on the road, the Clippers have one more road game April 14 at Phoenix in the regular-season finale.

- Chris Paul took only seven shots. But that seemed by design as he was having fun dishing out sweet passes to his teammates, which resulted in him doling out 15 assists. Paul is now averaging a league-high 10.2 assists. John Wall of the Washington Wizards is close behind at 10.0.

- The Clippers once again showed how adept they are from 3-point range by shooting 55.6 percent (15 of 27) from beyond the arc. Matt Barnes and Hedo Turkoglu both shot 4 of 7 from there, Redick was 2 of 2 and Austin Rivers 2 of 3. The Clippers are now shooting a collective 37.9 percent from long distance, third in the league behind Golden State (39.5) and Atlanta (38.6).

- The defense played by the Clippers was noteworthy. They held the Lakers to 38.7 percent shooting. Most importantly, they took rookie hot-shot Jordan Clarkson and threw a blanket over him. Clarkson, who of late has been very good, came in with point totals of 30, 26 and 27 in three of his previous seven games. But he scored just two points Sunday. Clarkson took just six shots, making one, because he had difficulty getting open. The game before, Friday against Portland, Clarkson scored 27 points and took 20 shots – making 12.

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J.J. Redick praises his team for winning franchise-record 25 games on the road

Blake Griffin goes up for a dunk in Sunday’s victory over the Lakers/Photo by Mark Terrill, Associated Press

 

Sunday’s 106-78 rout of the woeful Lakers was a road game for the Clippers (52-26), and it was their franchise-record 25th road victory of the season. Guard J.J. Redick afterward had no problem praising his team about that.

“You have to have mental toughness,” he said. “A lot of times in the course of a game, teams can make a big run, you might make a big run, and a team might make a run
back, so there’s a lot of ebb and flow to that.

“When you’re playing on the road, if you can kind of weather the runs and weather the crowd, that shows mental toughness. The other night in Portland was a big step for us.”

The Clippers came from 19 points down in the second quarter to win 126-122 this past Wednesday at Portland.

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Career of nine-year veteran J.J. Redick keeps getting better all the time

J.J. Redick

J.J. Redick/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

J.J. Redick averaged 20.6 points in the month of March and his surge continued Saturday when he scored 25 points to lead the Clippers to a 107-92 victory at Denver. He is averaging 25 points in two games this month, and his career-high season average is up to 16.2.

After Saturday’s win, he spoke about his evolving identity as an NBA player.

“I’ve learned in the NBA that who you are changes and it changes quickly sometimes,” said Redick, 30; he’s in his ninth season. “This is what I’m doing right now and hopefully I can continue to do this – outside shooting, scoring points – all that stuff, going into the playoffs.”

Redick is shooting 47.4 percent from the field overall, 43.4 from 3-point range. Both numbers represent career bests.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 119-106 victory over the Boston Celtics

J.J. Redick

J.J. Redick/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

- We just can’t say enough about J.J. Redick. He had another terrific game, with 27 points on 11 of 15 shooting - 5 of 6 from 3-point range. Redick is averaging 21.1 points in 15 games this month. He’s shooting 50.9 percent from the field in March, a ridiculous 44.3 from 3-point range.

- Blake Griffin has now played eight games since missing the previous 15 with a staph infection in his right elbow. He was outstanding in this one, going for 21 points on 7 of 14 shooting. He made 7 of 9 from the free-throw line, pulled down nine rebounds and doled out four assists. He also had a block and a steal and did not have a turnover. Other than that, he didn’t do a thing. He apparently hit his elbow on the floor in this one, but he told the Orange County Register that although it was a bit sore, he’d be OK.

- There was a down part to this game. The Clippers held a 35-point lead (96-61) with 4:20 left in the third quarter, only to see the Celtics get it all the way down to 11 (111-100) with 4:01 left in the game. When the lead was down to 14 (111-97) with 4:16 left, Doc Rivers had to bring the starters back into the game. Afterward, Rivers said he was not happy with the bench play, which shot a combined 5 of 20 and did not play well on defense.

- As poorly as the bench performed, the starting five was darn good. Besides Redick’s 27 points and Griffin’s 21, Chris Paul had 21 points and 10 assists; Matt Barnes scored 18 and DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 14 rebounds. But to be perfectly clear, everything was not terrific. Barnes was just 4 of 13 from 3-point range and Jordan made just 3 of 15 from the free-throw line.

- We can’t forget the defense. Yes, it slacked off when the Celtics made their belated run. But on the whole, it was very good. The Celtics shot just 41.9 percent from the field, only 25.8 (8 of 31) from beyond the arc. Those are numbers that Rivers would take every time.

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J.J. Redick scores 27 points as Clippers win seventh straight, 119-106 at Boston

J.J. Redick

J.J. Redick/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

J.J. Redick scored 27 points and the Clippers on Sunday won their seventh consecutive game with a 119-106 victory over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Boston. Interestingly, the Clippers held a 35-point lead (96-61) with 4:20 left in the third quarter and the Celtics were able to whittle that gigantic deficit down to 14 (111-97) with 4:16 to play in the game.

The Clippers’ starters came back in and then Boston’s Luigi Datome buried a 3-pointer to bring the Celtics within 11 points at 111-100 with 4:01 left before Matt Barnes made a huge put-back after the second of two missed free throws by DeAndre Jordan, who again fell victim to the hack-a-DJ ploy by making just 3 of 15 from the free-throw line.

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin contributed 21 points apiece with Paul also doling out 10 assists and Griffin grabbing nine rebounds. Barnes had 18 points and seven rebounds and Jordan scored 15 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics (32-41) with 19 points off the bench and Tyler Zeller scored 16.

The Clippers (49-25) now return home to take on the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday at Staples Center. The Warriors have the league’s best record at 60-13.

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