Friday night in Cleveland the Clippers lost a game that was theirs for 47 minutes until LeBron James hit a game-tying three with 47 seconds left.
Both teams weren’t able to catch a break after that and the game went to overtime. The Clippers went on to lose the game in OT 113-118, making it their seventh straight loss.
The team looked poised, hungry, and ready to walk away with a road W until crunch time. When the game was on the line the team couldn’t step up to the challenge and fell short. The ball movement in the first quarter was great; everyone was getting touches and looking for the best shot. All five starters ended the game in double digits, most as a cause of the unselfish play in the first half. The fourth quarter was a different story, the Clippers relied on iso, and on a night when the shooting went cold, they paid for it.
Foul trouble was an issue early in the game for the Clippers. Rookie Jawun Evans picked up three very early fouls and only logged 6 minutes as a result. The young guard has shown some signs of promise in his last couple games, but let nerves get the better of him in a marquee matchup.
The iso was an eye sore. The Clippers jumped out to a big lead early on, largely in part to the ball movement and getting everyone involved. We saw the ball zip around until the Cavs defense collapsed and got some great open looks as a result. Down the stretch, however, the ball seemed to stick a little more. Lou Williams tried to shoot himself out of a slump to no avail going just 5-16 from the field and 0-5 from deep.
DeAndre Jordan looked more like the DJ Clippers fans have come to love. Making his presence a thing to fear at the rim, swallowing the boards, and giving us some highlight dunks. Jordan ended the game with 20 pts, 22 rebs, 1 stl, and 3 blks.
Montrezl Harrell, folks. Though Harrell didn’t have a 20-20 game, or even finish with an astounding stat line, his impact was huge. The eye test on Montrezl heavily outweighed the numbers last night. He made opponents think twice about theirs shots, he had some nice footwork in the post, and shot 80% from the field. Harrell stepped up to the plate as the backup Center with Willie Reed getting a DNP-CD.
Wesley Johnson had himself a GAME. Wes was everywhere in Cleveland, making big plays on both ends of the court. He shot 60% from the field and ended with 15 points. His defense was a thing of beauty. WeJo filled in the defensive stats with 3 steals, 4 blocks, and 7 defensive rebounds. Ending the game with a team high of +12, Johnson was the quietly shining star for the Clippers on Friday.
The Honorable Mentions
Fourth Quarter Austin. Austin Rivers spent 3 quarters of the game colder than a winter in Cleveland. But if there’s anything we’ve learned about Austin, it’s that he doesn’t quit, for better or worse. When the Cavs went on a fourth quarter run, and the rest of the Clippers couldn’t score, Austin got a touch of heat. Unfortunately his contributions were just a little too late for the Clippers and were not able to help the team get a win.
Put the League on notice; Sindarius Thornwell is LEGIT. Rookie guard Sindarius has been getting some starts with the Clippers two starting guards being injured. He has stepped up to the challenge and proven himself a good defender and catch-and-shoot threat. Thornwell had to defend LeBron on a couple of possessions and stepped up, doing a good job of being pesky. He started the game with a good look from the corner and went on to hit a couple big threes in the game. Despite the losing streak, Sindarius has been a bright spot, giving a hopeful future to the team.
How To Bounce Back
On the second night of a back-to-back the Clippers face the Hornets in Buzz City. They’ll have to dig deep for energy and build on the positives from Friday night’s game. A win in Charlotte could build some much-needed in confidence in a team amidst a five game road trip.
With Kemba Walker listed as questionable the Clippers back court could catch a little bit of break, but the front court and wings will have their work cut out for them. DJ will have to focus on boxing out Dwight Howard and hustle for the boards. Hornets’ star forward Nicolas Batum has made his way back into the rotation so look for Wes Johnson and Blake sharing minutes guarding him using their length and strength as an advantage.
The Clippers, a team desperate to end a losing streak, will be a scary matchup for Charlotte. If the Clippers keep the ball moving and stay focused down the stretch they should leave The Hive one game closer to a winning record again.