Two games since the extended All-Star break, and two victories for the Clippers, who are still without forward Blake Griffin. A 126-99 victory over the futile Kings in Los Angeles on Saturday evening, propelled by 28 from Austin Rivers, gives the Clippers some needed momentum as they look to close out the season strong, and continue climbing the seeding in the difficult Western Conference.
It wasn't a full 48 minutes of domination for the home team, as the Kings led 29-19 late into the first quarter. A game, which seemed to be going down to the wire, was blown wide open, thanks to the Clippers bench playing the best game they have all season. Rivers, teamed with defending 6th man of the year, Jamal Crawford, combined for 51 points on 21-37 shooting, while J.J. Redick dropped 24 on 6-13. DeAndre Jordan was headed for, yet, another 20/20 game, but only played 20 minutes and 11 points and 15 rebounds to go with a couple of blocked shots.
With Blake out, the Clippers needed DeAndre to step it up, and he has done so beautifully. A 22/27 performance in Dallas kicked it off, followed by a 24/20 performance versus Houston, where he attempted 28 free throws. Two rebounds shy of three consecutive 20/20 games, DeAndre had 26/18 versus San Antonio. All four of the match-ups were wins, and big ones for the Clippers.
Still, the man of the match honors clearly goes to the coaches son, breaking his career high right after returning from an ankle injury. At points out there, Rivers looked more like Stephen Curry than himself, hitting step back threes, and making it look like child's play. You'd be remiss if you didn't watch the highlights here.
The Clippers aren't out of the woods yet, as they host the second seeded Memphis Grizzlies Monday evening, prior to a four game trip, including stops in Houston, Memphis, Chicago and Minnesota before hosting the Blazers and a trip to Golden State, which should be a great, high scoring affair. With two wins versus the Grizzlies, Clippers can knock down the standing deficit to only a game and a half, pending results from other games.