So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance…
With 2:52 to play in the 4th Quarter against the Detroit Pistons, the Los Angeles Clippers found themselves trailing by 14. It was an ugly turn of events. In the beginning of the 3rd quarter, it was all systems go for the Clips as they pulled away by 15. However, an extremely unfortunate and recurring problem throughout this season, they coughed the ball up too many times and entered another long scoring drought resulting in a 29 point turnaround in favor of the Pistons. Ty Lue emptied the bench, which essentially is the basketball equivalent of waving the white flag and accepting defeat. The Clipper Bench had other ideas. Led by Amir Coffey, Luke Kennard, Terrance Mann, Moses Brown, and Nico Batum, the bench Clips rattled off a a 16-2 run, capped off by a T-Mann game-tying pull-up midrange jumper to send the game to OT. In OT, PG took over and the Clips outscored the Pistons 16-3.
What could have been one of the worst losses of the season turned into one of the most improbable wins in NBA history. Entering Monday, teams were 2-12,873 when trailing by 14+ with 3 minutes remaining in the play-by-play era (since 1996-97). Yes, you read that correctly. 2 wins and 12,873 losses in that specific scenario, but leave it to the Clippers to give us absolute heart-attacks during the regular season. It was a beautiful box score with 8 Clippers scoring 12+ points on a night without Kawhi Leonard, but the job wasn’t finished then.
Immediately after this anxiety-inducing thriller, the Clippers hopped on a flight to fly out to Toronto to matchup with the Raptors the very next day. They didn’t get into their hotel rooms until 4AM with a game in a little bit more than 16 hours. It was Norman Powell’s first game in Toronto since being traded to the Clips and Kawhi’s first game back in the 6 in 3 years. The Clips were hooping as Zubac absolutely dominated the Raptors small-ball lineup posting an impressive stat line of 23 points and 16 rebounds, 10 of them being offensive rebounds, which is just a ridiculous statistic. Norman Powell had 22 off the bench as he continues his 6MOY candidacy and despite Kawhi being double teamed every single possession, he was able to rack up a team-high 8 assists finding the open man and sharing the wealth.
The Clippers took care of the Raptors 124-113, winning seven of the past nine games. The Clips are rolling and it’s a beautiful sight to see. Another encouraging statistic, the Clippers only coughed up the ball 11 times tonight. This is the 6th time this has happened all year, four of these games occurring in December. It goes to show that with health and continuity comes a much sharper and cleaner form of basketball. On the other side of the ball, according to Cleaning The Glass, the Clippers half-court defense allows 92.4 points per 100 plays, the best mark in the entire league. The numbers don’t lie. Let’s keep it moving.
~Michael Bannerman (twitter: @mabannerman44)
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