Sunday, February 26, 2017

Clippers Escape Sting of Hornets in Overtime

Courtesy of Zyaire Porter/T.G.Sportstv1
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers get their first win after the all-star break with a 124-121 overtime defeat of the Charlotte Hornets on Oscar night in La La Land.

In Hollywood, as the 89th Academy Awards ceremony was taking place and the trophy for best picture was incorrectly given to “La La Land” then swiftly taken away as they began celebrating, the same result almost befit the Clippers a few miles away when they blew a 17-point lead.

“I thought we played a really good offensive first half, a really good offensive third quarter to start,” said Clippers guard J.J. “But they have shot makers on their team, and [Nicholas] Batum and [Kemba] Walker were awesome tonight.”

After the game, Hornets head coach Steve Clifford was visibly upset at a controversial non-foul call with his team in possession, down by one with six seconds left. Trapped on the sideline, Walker appeared to be bumped by Chris Paul and was forced to throw an errant pass as he was falling out of bounds. No whistle was blown on the play and the turnover resulted in Blake Griffin layup to put the Clippers up by three with under four seconds.

“Kemba had the ball at half court and he thought he got fouled,” said Clippers assistant Mike Woodson. “I think he was falling behind the line and he had to get rid of it and we came up with it. It was a big defensive effort coming down the stretch.”

With the Hornets facing a five-point deficit with under a minute remaining in regulation, Walker drained a three then followed up with two free throws to tie with 11.9 seconds on the clock after his team made a defensive stop.

“We just wanted to continue to fight hard, which we did,” said Walker, who led the Hornets with 34 points. “We wanted to make plays and try to make the plays necessary to win the basketball game. Once we got down, we came together and we made a push.”

 The game would go into overtime after Paul missed a jumper at the buzzer.  That’s when Blake Griffin decided enough was enough and scored seven of his game and season-high 43 points.

“Blake and I talked before the game about being aggressive and he could have had more [points],” said Paul. “He could have had 50 points, he is a guy that is capable of that every night, but he is so unselfish, which is why he is the player he is.”

Griffin was on a mission to get buckets any way he could. He dazzled with his usual array of powerful dunks, pull-ups and drives from midrange, and he put on a couple of dribbling exhibitions. Griffin also hit his mark from behind the arc, where he made three of his four attempts.

“He is a monster,” said Clifford. “He’s so skilled and smart and he’s the perfect player.”

CP3 was also impressive for the Clippers in the win as he recorded 17 assists without committing a single turnover. Redick scored 22 for Los Angles and all-star DeAndre Jordan added 20 points plus 19 rebounds.

The Clippers next opponent will be the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

This was Charlotte’s fifth overtime loss of the season. Batum scored 31 points while making eight from downtown. Jeremy Lamb scored 19 off the bench.

The Hornets will play the Lakers on Tuesday night.

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