Six players on the Clippers scored in double-figures. DeAndre Jordan had his second 20-20 game of the season, both coming against the Cavs. He grabbed a season-high 23 rebounds to go along with 20 points. Tobias Harris led the Clippers in scoring with 23 points. Montrezl Harrell added 20 points off the bench, his third game scoring at least 20 points in the last five games.
The Clippers started the game strong, shooting 50 percent in the first quarter and took an 18-point lead. At halftime, the Clippers led 61-47 and maintained the lead throughout the game.
“We moved the ball, played fast and attacked,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Our defense was tremendous. LeBron is eventually going to get some, but we guarded everyone else.”
Importance of a win
In the first half, the Clippers held James in check when he scored only eight points. With rookie Sindarius Thornwell guarding James, it was important to give him as much help as possible.
“We wanted to load up and give him (Thornwell) as much help as possible,” Jordan said. “We knew how important this game was.”
James finished with a double-double, scoring 25 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson gave the Cavs 21 points off the bench. Larry Nance Jr. added his own double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
“You’re not going to block his (James) shot,” Thornwell said, who finished with 14 points and was a team-high +21. “Just stay in front of him and make it tough for him. It takes a team to slow him down, it wasn’t just me.”
The Cavs did make a late run after a George Hill 3-pointer got the score down to 110-102, but the Clippers scored the game’s final six points to secure the win.
With the win, the Clippers keep their eighth seed position over the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz in the grueling Western Conference. A small skid can be the difference between getting home court advantage in the first round or missing the playoffs. The Clippers probably won’t like watching from the couch.
“In the West, (seeds) three through eight is like two, three games apart,” Austin Rivers said. “That’s nuts, man. The fact if we won six games in a row we could be the third seed but if we lose, we’re out.”
The Cavs will stay in Los Angeles, as they will face the Lakers on Sunday where you can expect a lot of fan recruitment for James to sign with them this off-season.
For the Clippers, they take on the Eastern Conference bottom dweller, Orlando Magic (20-43) in the second game of a home back-to-back. It is important the Clippers keep focus against a lesser team as every game matters during this playoff stretch.