A day after giving up 44 points in the first 12 minutes to the Jazz, the Clippers dropped an even 40 on the Pelicans in the first quarter. As if on cue for one of the best teams in the Western Conference, Los Angeles came out the powerful aggressor, attacking the paint with their first few possessions and then they started to pick New Orleans apart from everywhere else on the floor.
The Clippers gameplan and energy were flawless, but admittedly the Pels offered too little resistance. Talent wasn’t nearly at fault as much as simple heart and execution. A minute and 15 seconds into the second quarter, the Clippers led by 16. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back likely affected the legs some, but Los Angeles nailed 8 of their first 15 three-point attempts — a lot of them were of the open variety. Conversely, the Pelicans offense struggled to initiate any good flow and wound up with few uncontested looks. The referee’s whistles were somewhat interesting, but there is no denying the discrepancy between LA’s Los 16 free throws to Nola’s four in the first half.
“The slow starts are killing us,” remarked Alvin Gentry to postgame media. “You can’t give up 40 points in a quarter...you know, unless you score 45. And we weren’t going to score 45 on that team. We have got to do a better job, We’ve got to take something away. We can’t give up points in the paint and give up three-point shots. They had 56 points in the paint I think and obviously they started the game with 10 threes in the first half. We’ve just got to do better.”
Less than 24 hours earlier, Gentry had talked about making opponents feel the Pelicans presence on the court, but the Clippers didn’t notice New Orleans at all and proceeded to carry a formidable 72-56 lead into halftime. Assistant coach Jamelle McMillan essentially repeated the words of the head coach on the Fox Sports New Orleans broadcast during intermission, adding that the Clippers were having little issue of moving north to south while the Pelicans were forced to travel east to west.
Despite the available star power, Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley embodied the action the best. The Clippers reserve big finished the night tying his career-high with 34 points and he also added 12 rebounds and a couple of blocks. He overwhelmed the Pelicans, and Jaxson Hayes specifically, on seemingly every possession. PatBev, meanwhile, was his usual pesky self. The ball just finds him. His three offensive rebounds in the third quarter, though, stood out in particular.
The Pelicans had cut what was once a 25-point deficit in the first half to just six points in the third quarter, but more examples of half-hearted effort cost them from closing the gap even further. Following a couple of turnovers which resulted in the Clippers pushing their lead back up to 10, JaMychal Green pulled the trigger on a quick three but missed. Beverley was the only other Clipper standing in the vicinity, yet he wound up with the long offensive rebound amid five ball-watching Pelicans.
Following that mid to late 3rd quarter push, New Orleans never threatened again.
Brandon Ingram, who made 3 of his 13 field goals in the first half, got going in the second half and closed with a final line of 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Jrue Holiday posted 18 points and seven rebounds while E’Twaun Moore totaled 17 points off the bench.
Kawhi Leonard finished with 26 points and six assists, Paul George scored 18 points, and Lou Williams tallied 19 off the bench.
Up next, strap in because here comes Anthony Davis. New Orleans once beloved star will return as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time in his career this coming Wednesday. Also making an appearance will be some guy named LeBron James.
If the Pelicans can’t get up for that one right out of the locker room, we’re going to send first responders in and check for heartbeats.