The Clippers, in the words of forward Blake Griffin, “took our foot off the gas pedal” Sunday, and the result was an epic fourth-quarter collapse in which they blew an 18-point lead with five minutes left and lost to Sacramento.
Given a chance to redeem themselves after stewing over that meltdown for two days, the Clippers jammed that pedal to the metal to start Wednesday night’s game and never eased up, cruising to a hard-fought 133-124 victory over the Washington Wizards at Staples Center.
J.J. Redick, who missed Sunday’s game because of a right-ankle sprain, scored 31 points, matching a season-high with seven three-pointers in 11 attempts, and Chris Paul added 27 points and 13 assists for the Clippers, who have won 14 of 17 games against Washington dating to March 18, 2009.
Griffin scored 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out nine assists, and DeAndre Jordan added 23 points and 18 rebounds to offset the hot shooting of Wizards guards John Wall, who had 41 points on 16-for-23 shooting, and Bradley Beal, who scored 27 points.
It marked the first time ever that Griffin, Jordan, Paul and Redick have reached the 20-point mark in the same game, and the 133 points matched a season high, previously set against the Lakers on March 21 and New Orleans on Dec. 10.
The Clippers led by as many as 19 points midway through the third period. The Wizards chipped away in the fourth and pulled to within five points, 129-124, when Beal hit a three-pointer with 31 seconds left.
But Griffin, who hit an 18-foot jumper with 51 seconds to give the Clippers a 129-121 lead, made two free throws with 18.2 seconds left for a 131-124 lead.
“We got some key stops down the stretch and kept playing offensively,” Coach Doc Rivers said. “We moved the ball around, got the ball in the right hands and made shots. That was the difference. We didn’t hesitate.”
Sunday’s blown lead was the culmination of a monthlong stretch of inconsistency in both performance and effort for the Clippers, who are now 10-10 since the All-Star break.
“We have to play desperate,” Jordan said after Sunday’s game. “I feel like that’s what a lot of other teams are doing who are even a higher seed than we are. Their spirits are different. We have to find that.”
They may have found it Wednesday night. The Clippers crashed the boards and dived on the floor for loose balls, Griffin practically wrestling Wizards reserve center Ian Mahinmi for one ball in the third quarter.
They helped each other on defense and didn’t allow many uncontested baskets, Griffin fouling Wall hard on a fastbreak attempt in the fourth quarter to make sure he didn’t score.
“You could see both teams wanted to prove something,” Rivers said. “It was a testy game, which I think is great. We should have more of those.”
The Clippers shot 56.6% from the field (47 for 83) and made 40% of their three-point attempts (12 of 30). They did suffer one potential loss, though, when reserve guard Austin Rivers left the game because of a left-hamstring strain that probably will sideline him for several games.
“Austin will be out for a little while, probably,” Doc Rivers said. “But I don’t think it will be for long. He’s 24.”
Doc Rivers knew the Clippers would have their hands full with Wall, who was averaging 23.2 points, 10.8 assists and two steals a game and torched the Lakers for 34 points, 14 assists and four steals in Tuesday night’s 119-108 victory.
“He’s a one-man attack,” Rivers said of Wall. “[Russell] Westbrook does it with power and speed. Wall does too, but the speed is even faster. So you have to, and I’m not trying to be corny, but you have to build a wall.
“You can take that in a lot of ways. You can take it the Trump way. You can take it the John Wall way. But what I mean is the John Wall way. You have to build a defensive wall so he doesn’t get into the paint.”