Depth is one of several strengths of the Los Angeles Clippers. They’ll attempt to use it to their advantage again when they host the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.
While Paul George struggled for much of Friday’s contest against Houston, Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams took over down the stretch, as the Clippers beat the Rockets 122-119 in Los Angeles for their fourth consecutive win. Leonard hit the go-ahead bucket with 15 seconds left for the Clippers, who trailed by five with a minute left before rallying.
“Guys on this team don’t shy away from the moment,” said Leonard, who converted 9 of 16 shots from the floor for 24 points. He also collected six rebounds and recorded three steals and three assists. “They want to play their best basketball in the fourth quarter. Everyone is trying to execute and make shots and play great defense.”
No one executed better than Williams in the second half, when he scored all of his 26 points for the Clippers, who are 10-1 at home for the first time in franchise history. Williams, who also finished with eight assists, missed his initial four field-goal attempts in the first half before connecting on 9 of 12 in the second half. He was 4 of 6 on 3-point attempts.
“That’s what he does,” Leonard said of Williams. “He was just being patient with the game tonight. He made the right plays in the first half, and the second half he got some open looks, knocked them down, got into the paint. That’s how the game is. It’s not perfect. Some nights you’re going to score all of your points in the first quarter or the fourth quarter, but you just have to keep being solid. We trust him.”
George managed just 4-of-15 shooting from the floor and misfired on 7 of 10 3-point attempts to finish with 19 points. Montrezl Harrell scored 18 points and grabbed seven boards off the bench to provide the Clippers another boost.
The Clippers’ reserves led the league in scoring at 50.9 points per contest through Friday’s games.
The Pelicans will be playing the second end of back-to-back contests. They had their three-game winning streak snapped in a 128-120 loss in Utah on Saturday.
Brandon Ingram, who entered the Utah contest averaging 25.6 points per game and shooting 51.7 percent from the floor, scored 33 points on 12-of-24 shooting to lead New Orleans. Jrue Holiday had 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to go along with four steals, while JJ Redick added 20 points. Lonzo Ball, who played his second game since returning from a groin injury, contributed 13 points in 25 minutes.
The Pelicans trailed by 20 at the break before rallying in the second half. They closed the gap to 10 after outscoring Utah 34-24 in the third quarter.
Ingram’s 3-pointer with 37.9 seconds left cut the deficit to 124-120 before the Jazz clinched the win with free throws.
Pelicans forward Derrick Favors (back spasms) missed his fourth consecutive game. He isn’t expected to play against the Clippers, either.
The Pelicans also played without center Jahlil Okafor (ankle) and guard Josh Hart (ankle), who were sidelined for the sixth straight contest. They could return against Los Angeles.
–Field Level Media