So often this season, coach Tyrone Liu has described his Clippers squad as too quiet. But as the second half of Tuesday evening continued at the Staples Center, their excitement turned to anger.
Hit but missed a foul, Clippers star Paul George was quite upset that night when he did not attempt a free kick until the third quarter, and was most effectively harassed by Portland’s Norman Powell defense. Back on the defensive. Terence Mann, hitting the ring without breaking the rules, waited for the next break in the game to go up to referee Tyler Ford and bend over, holding out both hands and pleading.
Not only are they disappointed. Following the change in the offseason foul whistle rules, teams have two fewer free throws than last season, for the first time in NBA history the average fell below 20 per night. But to understand the depths of the Clippers’ rage, one had to watch one of the softest players in the NBA, Nicholas Batum. He glared as Isaiah Hartenstein was called back to the Clippers at the end of the third quarter. He later slapped hard with his right elbow after a draw contact, but not a three-point foul.
As the complaints piled up, the Clippers’ emotional state seemed as fragile as their clear lead. George went to the bench with his fourth foul five minutes before the game in the third quarter. A minute later, their defender Reggie Jackson, their other most reliable scorer, followed.
But that was not the night the Clippers’ winning streak ended. Keeping afloat for the rest of the third quarter thanks to the coolness of their reserves and ahead to the end thanks to their execution as their own Portland faltered, the Clippers won their fifth game in a row with a score of 117-109.
“During the timeouts, I just wanted to keep my composure,” Liu said. “In both cases, they let us play physically, so if they can do it to us, we can do it to them.
“I don’t think it was one-sided. We just need to play the judging. We cannot get angry. “
The Clippers took 19 free throws and Portland 12. George scored 24 points on 24 shots and whistled on the last one before enjoying a little catharsis.
Giving up Powell in 1 minute 22 seconds and the Clippers leading by eight, George fired a spin and heard the whistle before landing, striking himself in the chest with one hand before taking the next free throw. He added nine rebounds and seven assists.
After a round of applause from the MVP, the game ended in which Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups, an assistant to the Clippers last season, described George as a player of high value. He helped the Clippers score 10 unanswered points in the third quarter before committing a fourth foul that reluctantly sent him to the bench.
“When PG got his fourth foul, he had to check. “The first two, three possessions we didn’t play very well, and we kind of lost,” Batum said. “We have to find a way to move the ball again.”
For this, Liu put Hartenstein in place of starter Ivica Zubac due to his chemistry and transfer with fellow reservists Luke Kennard and Mann. Portland is five behind but could narrow that deficit to four by the start of the fourth quarter.
Since Serge Ibaki’s minutes are limited, Liu still has room for three centers in his rotation, with Liu saying that Ibaki and Hartenstein’s play in the first half will determine who plays more in the second half. Ibaka lasted five minutes, all in the first half, before Hartenstein scored 14 points in 17 minutes.
“We just play simple and move, and we started getting good shots and big threes,” Batum said. “It was a stretch for us before PG was back in the game.”
The Clippers (6-4) were betting on their defense, which saved them at crucial moments after allowing Portland 10 points unanswered in the first half, in which the Clippers opened the score 13-3. , then regained control, ending the first quarter 13-0.
Portland defender Damian Lillard made 11 of 23 shots for 27 points and helped the Trail Blazers start 12 of 18 shots in the last quarter, including Yusuf Nurkic’s 3-pointer from 3:39 am to play Portland »With an accuracy of 103–100. But Trail Blazers didn’t score for more than two minutes again.
By this point, the Clippers’ lead had grown to nine, and all those grimaces of the quarter had previously turned into smirks from a team that hasn’t lost since October 29th.
Batum has 22 points on six three-pointers against his old team and has 59% of his three-pointers in his last five games. Reggie Jackson added 23 points.
“That was just our MO,” said George. “There are so many guys performing when we need them and I think T-Lue said it best. You never know who it will be on a particular night. “