Game Notes: Kings at Clippers
Eric Gordon down the stretch. Money, money, mon-ey.
by Patrick Crawley / @BasketballFiend
After blowing a 17-point third quarter lead to the Kings, L.A. seemed headed for a league-worst 18th loss, but Gordon made like Eddie. He was money, and he took them home, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter to clinch a 98-91 win.
Gordon finished with 29 points, making 10-17 shots from the field – including 2-3 from beyond the arc – and all seven of his free-throws. Along the way, he picked up 5 rebounds and 2 steals, one of which came at a crucial moment with three minutes left in the game.
He was as unstoppable as a train chased by Denzel. He simply refused to let the Clippers lose.
“Eric Gordon stepped up at the end with a big steal, hit a big three-pointer and knocked down some free-throws,” coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He really made game-winning plays for us.”
Thanks to EJ’s heroics, the Clip Show now avoids the moniker of the “League’s worst team” for at least a few days. With the loss, the Kings fall to 4-15, giving them a .211 winning percentage and thus worst team in the NBA status.
To the game…
Kings at Clippers. The worst teams in the League – by record anyway. Who expects fireworks?
Omri Casspi fans. That’s who.
It’s “A Night to Honor Israel” at Staples Center, which means a pre-game menorah lighting and enough mini-Israeli flags to fill every kosher deli from here to Fairfax. It also means a section full of Omri fans who cheer his every move – much to the chagrin of the rest of Clipper Nation.
Cheers for the 22-year-old often bleed into a chorus of boos as the rest of the arena catches up with the rebel-rousing flag wavers.
Nevertheless, the support spurs Casspi to his best game of the season so far. He finishes with 21 points and 10 rebounds – his first double-double in ’10-11.
He indeed honors Israel.
And a rookie shall lead them.
DeMarcus Cousins, that is.
The Kings begin the game with a series of plays designed for DMC in the high post. They’re working. The Kentucky product is making quick work of center DeAndre Jordan. He scores four early points… only to pick up his second foul four minutes into the game.
It’s typical Cousins. He’s a 20-year-old supernova. He burns brightly but only in short stints.
The gladiator, Blake Griffin, is struggling early. After an early five-point run, he is held scoreless for the rest of the quarter.
Later, Samuel Dalembert takes a turn to similar results. Superman, meet kryptonite – for now anyway.
At the 7:56 mark, DeAndre Jordan swats a Beno Udrih floater from one side of the court to the other. The last time I saw someone bully someone else like that, there was lunch money involved.
Jordan will go on to repeat the gesture in the fourth quarter, nicely bookending a decidedly sub-par game from the Slovenian point guard.
The Kings go on an 11-0 run to take an early eight-point lead, but the Clippers close it to 20-16 by the end of the quarter.
Ryan Gomes is heating up, according to the NBA Jam announcer in my head.
The reserve forward hits two consecutive jumpers to start the quarter, followed by a basket earned by goaltend. Is that what you call it? A basket earned by goaltend? Nevermind. Doesn’t matter. He’ll go on to finish with 17 points, second on the team to EJ.
Not bad, Gomey.
Blake breaks out a little, executing a guard-worthy spin move near the three-point line before feeding Rasual Butler for an easy dunk. Even with JT and Sammy locking him up, Blake still finds a way to make his presence known.
Talented this one is. Long All-Star career I see.
Shut up, Yoda.
Eric Bledsoe leads a mini-run at the end of the half to put the Clippers up 50-44.
Gomes swishes a three-quarter’s-court shot at the half, but his release is a split second too late and, upon replay, the basket doesn’t count. Groans all around.
Teenage Jewish girls dancing.
You’re right. Frozen yogurt in the press room is a much better idea.
As talented as he is, Blake is taking an interesting approach to post offense.
His strategy at the moment is to back down Jason Thompson to the point of failing, then launch the ball straight in the air in the hope that it will find net. Or rim. Or backboard. Or something.
It’s working about as well as you’d expect, which is to say not well at all.
Cousins is faring better on the other end, establishing himself with shiny post moves and a well-developed jumper. He’s getting to the free-throw line, too.
It’s bright light time for Supernova.
This angers Blake. He won’t stand for it.
At the 7:07 mark, DMC executes a spin move even the most accomplished ice skater would be envious of. Moving past DeAndre, he has a clear path to the basket when all of the sudden BOOM! Blake comes out of nowhere for a stinging blind-side rejection.
The crowd erupts, but Blake doesn’t feel the message is received yet.
On the next play, he takes a laser beam-of-a-pass from Bledsoe to the face of the rim, finishing a vicious alley-oop with two hands – the Blake Griffin Special.
I hear they’ll be selling it soon at Pink’s – order at your own risk.
Midway through the quarter, I see an announcement on Twitter: John Wall is in the house. The search begins. My eyes are Tommy Lee Jones in “The Fugitive;” a vigilant hunt.
I finally locate him. He’s courtside to the left of the Kings’ basket. He’s wearing a white shirt and black blazer. He’s lounging. He looks bored. In fact, we all are. By the end of the third quarter, the Clippers are up 79-63.
Little does Wall know the events before him are about to get exponentially more exciting.
Enter Pooh Jeter.
Yeah, you heard me. Pooh Jeter.
The 27-year-old point guard out of Portland reinvigorates a Sacramento offense sorely in need of one. Pooh’s putting on a show, and it doesn’t take place in the Hundred Acre Wood.
He scores nine points in six minutes to bring the Kings within two points, then Casspi finishes an and one (off a perfect pass from Cousins) to put them ahead for the first time since the 8:00 mark of the second quarter.
The Kings are infinitely more fun to watch now. They’re terrific on the break, cutting at just the right time and making the extra pass. No more stutter start isolation plays. This is fluid, liquid motion. Jeter to Casspi to Jeter to Evans: easy layup, 88-85, Kings.
Following Tyreke’s layup – one of the few he made Monday – VDN calls timeout and Gordon begins his Jay-Z-style takeover.
It begins with a steal and a breakaway dunk (88-87, Kings). Then a layup (game tied at 91). Then a three-pointer (94-91, Clippers). And, finally, a set of free-throws (96-91).
When the smoke clears, EJ’s holding the hottest pistol around. Meanwhile, Tyreke, Omri and, yes, Pooh are caught with their hands still stuck in their holsters.
DeMarcus got a chance to fire off a round or two (two reverse layups, in fact), but he never found his target. (I’m telling you: Supernova.)
After the game, Gordon explained the events of the fourth quarter.
“They just cut it down so quickly,” he said. “That was a crazy transition right there… We just needed to score some baskets and play good transition defense. And that’s what we did, made stops at the end.”
Made stops and hit shots, and worked their way back to a win – their fifth of the season.
It wasn’t a brilliant win, but it was a win built on a brilliant performance: Gordon’s.
Don’t be surprised if you see a few more like it from him in the future.