by Chris Camello (@chris_camello)
LOS ANGELES – After a disappointing matinee loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, the Los Angeles Clippers were quickly able to redeem themselves in a 135-132 win over the New York Knicks in a game that became a shootout.
The Clippers (26-12) swapped out superstars as Paul George (hamstring) returned but Kawhi Leonard (knee soreness) was held out on the second day of a back-to-back.
George looked as if the hamstring wasn’t an issue as he dropped 32 points in his return. However, he wasn’t the only one who had a big game for the Clippers.
“That’s abnormal,” head coach Doc Rivers said about George’s stamina. “You don’t see that very often.”
George said he felt good the past three games.
“Starting with the Sacramento game, I started to feel like myself,” George said. “Quick reads, timing, and rhythm. All of that felt good leading up to this point.”
It was the dynamic bench duo of Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams that helped the Clippers wake up and quickly turn that deficit into a lead as they outscored the Knicks 47-24 in the second quarter.
New York (10-26) used a balanced effort and a huge game from Marcus Morris who scored 38 points to keep the Knicks within striking distance.
The Clippers looked like they were headed toward a potential disaster as George fouled out with 7:06 remaining in the fourth quarter. With Leonard also unavailable, the team looked to their super subs in Williams and Harrell to lift them to a win as they did so many times last season.
Harrell finished with a team-high 34 points and Williams scored 32 points knocking down six three-pointers.
Harrell, Williams, and George became the first trio in the Clippers’ team history to score 30 points apiece.
However, while it was great to get a win, the Clippers aren’t happy with their defense, which for the second straight game, surrendered over 130 points. Even with Patrick Beverley returning from his wrist injury, the team has been slipping on that end of the floor recently.
“Give them credit, these teams are coming out here playing their best basketball,” Beverley said. “We just got to be up for the challenge every night.”
In an 82-game season, teams find different ways to win whether it be offensively or defensively. The Clippers still have time to gel on both ends and clean up their issues.