The Clippers (14-5) still without three of their starters, pulled off a remarkable win last night on the road against last year’s Eastern Conference Champions the Miami Heat (6-12) 109-105. Early on, this game did not look good for LA. They were absolutely ice cold from the field in the first quarter, and could seemingly not make anything. Whereas Miami was getting 3’s from everyone. Even players you would typically leave open because of reputations of being poor outside shooters. Thus enabling the Heat, who were also out several starters including their best player Jimmy Butler, to get off to an 18 point lead; the first quarter ended 33-18 Heat. It looked like they just did not have it, and that it was going to likely be a blowout, but It was not for lack of effort on the Clippers part, they were playing hard. Their basket was just not agreeing with them. The team did not give up though, and their resolve was rewarded as it all flipped in the second half. As bad as the first quarter was their third quarter was good and then some. Outdoing the Heat 40-19, one of, if not THE, best quarters of their season so far. The Clippers took the lead into the final quarter, but almost gave up the game due to a run by Miami led by Tyler Herro, and some blunders down the stretch. One being a late timeout call by Reggie Jackson when the team was out of them. He took the mistake hard, but was able to redeem himself at the free throw line to ice the game for LAC.
STAR OF THE GAME
Nicolas Batum and his 18 points. This win was an all around team effort, but the game ball goes to Batum. He nailed 6 3 pointers to go with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. During the Clippers 3rd quarter run, it was Batum leading the charge, hitting one big 3 after another. He has been playing well all year, but it was in this win that he truly stood out. It’s hard to believe that late last year while he was on the Charlotte Hornets, he was sitting out games as a healthy scratch. He was contemplating retirement, and Clipper fans sure are glad he decided against it. His presence has been invaluable to say the least. He started off the year filling in for Marcus Morris Sr. in the starting unit, but was playing so well as their glue guy that upon getting healthy, Morris, to his credit, took notice and did not want to mess with the chemistry. He told Coach Lue it was in the best interest of the team for himself to come off the bench. I was admittedly NOT a fan of Batum before his arrival in LA, because of his history as a Clippers killer, but I for sure am now. He has warmed his way into my heart. His signing was one of the more understated acquisitions of the offseason.
The status of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. They sat out their second game in a row due to health and safety protocols. This team, although they played well last night, cannot survive long without their two All-Stars. They are going to need them back soon if they do not want to lose too much ground in the Western Conference. Thankfully though, the Lakers lost last night on the road. At this point there is no telling when they will be back. Hopefully this prolonged absence will be a bit of a wake-up call for#2 and #13, and they will be more conscientious of who they come into contact with going forward as to not put their team in another precarious position. The team was able to survive last night, but they play tonight again on a back-to-back against the Orlando Magic, which has all the makings of a trap game. LAC is in the middle of a big 6 game road trip, and it would be an absolute miracle if they were to go .500 on it without them.
We have a Lou Williams sighting people! I gave him a bit of a hard time in my recap of LAC’s last game because of his recent streak of poor play, so I am going to give him his due credit for this one. He scored 17 points off the bench, and although he was a -2, all the bench players were in the negative. Out of them though, he was the least negative. He also put up 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and looked very much like the Sweet Lou we in Clippers Nation have grown accustomed to seeing night in and night out. He started off the game missing his shots, and looked like his cold streak was going to continue. But after some made free-throws and a break-away lay-up, he came out of his funk and started knocking them down. Including his one and only three point field goal attempt of the night. The Clippers needed the all the time best 6th Man of the Year for this W, and, to Clipper Nations joy, got it. We are all hoping this will continue, and his bubble days as Lemon Pepper Lou are well behind him.
At Orlando Magic, Friday, January 29th at 5:00PM Pacific
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