The LA Clippers finally caught a break playing the struggling New Orleans Pelicans as the Staples Center winning 111-90 on Black Friday. They got off to a fast start before having it get close but then running away with the game. It didn’t help that the Pelican’s best player, Anthony Davis (17 points before he left), had to be carried off the court in the 3rd quarter with some sort of food injury on a collision with Chris Paul.
The Clippers finally had some unity and played an overall well balanced game even getting scoring from bench players. Austin Rivers had 17, Lance Stephenson had 10, Jamal Crawford 9 and Josh Smith 5 points & 12 rebounds. That complimented the Chris Paul (17 points, 8 assists) along with 20 points each from Blake Griffin and JJ Reddick. All the starters sat our the 4th quarter since it was a blowout. Doc Rivers was very pleased with the effort and performance as they now get ready for the up and coming Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday afternoon.
New Orleans has had injury issues most of the season and have been trying to find their identity and team chemistry that made them a playoff team last year. Former Clipper Eric Gordon helped with 16 points and rookie Ish Smith had 15 points and 10 assists showing off some flashy and speedy moves. New Coach Alvin Gentry, who coached the Clippers before and was an assistant with Golden State last year, has his hands full while he tries to find the right moves to make as he has talented players on the team.
The small forward position is an achilles heel for both teams and this may be the first time all season where LA had the advantage at that position. They are trying to go with a trio of Wesley Johnson, Paul Pierce and Stephenson but none have really got it going so far as they alternate. After they let Matt Barnes go, they replaced them with this trio but this could be the one spot where they fall short as the season goes on unless they make another trade.
The Clippers reached the .500 mark and now look to move up in the west standings. The 2 top teams so far are the undefeated Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. After that, it is up in the air but many factors come into play including injuries with the long season ahead of us. More at www.nba.com/clippers