It was a messy night inside and around Madison Square Garden. There was a fracas on the court and snow swirling outside, but the Clippers persevered for a 116-88 victory over the New York Knicks, improving to 1-1 on their five-game trip. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. It was fight night at the Garden. New York's Robin Lopez landed the only punch during an ugly exchange that started midway through the third quarter when Chris Paul put a forearm into Lopez's chest while fighting for a rebound. "We don't need any of that," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "That's the old Knicks." Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and Lopez then exchanged swipes, leading to Lopez's ejection and a technical foul on Jordan. The Clippers scored 13 of the next 15 points to increase their lead to 21 points, and that was the ballgame.
2. There was more evidence that it's a make-miss league, as Rivers would say. The Clippers shot 56.6%, the Knicks 38.8%, and that was pretty much all you needed to know. Jordan and teammate Wesley Johnson were the picture of perfection, combining to make all 12 of their shots. Meanwhile, New York's Carmelo Anthony made only four of 12. Paul wore a bemused expression when asked by the New York media about his success throwing lobs to Jordan for dunks. "We do that every night," Paul said. "I mean, that's part of what we do. Some teams shoot threes, we get lobs. It's something me and D.J. have been doing for a while now."
3. Cole Aldrich and Pablo Prigioni enjoyed a happy homecoming. If there is a struggling Hollywood writer in need of ideas for a buddy comedy script, he doesn't need to look any further. Aldrich, the slightly goofy, gap-toothed center who hails from Minnesota, couldn't be any different from the studious, health-conscious point guard from Argentina. Yet, somehow they work together. Incredibly well. The former Knicks helped their new team dominate their old one, with Aldrich collecting 12 points and five rebounds in only 17 minutes and Prigioni strong across the board with seven points, four assists, four rebounds and four steals. Prigioini's teammates seemed particularly pleased whenever he did something well. "That's because he's a feisty little Italian or whatever he is, Argentinian," Clippers guard Austin Rivers said.
4. Kristaps Porzingis didn't live up to the hype for one night. The rookie was erratic, making only four of 17 shots on the way to 13 points. The Clippers used a variety of defenders on the 7-foot-3 power forward, including Paul Pierce, who stripped the ball to trigger a fast break that ended in one of Jordan's many dunks off a Paul lob. "We wanted to use our lower body to try to push him out," Doc Rivers said of the Clippers' defensive strategy. "That's all we talked about, and stay into his body on the shots, try to make him lose his balance. Within a year or two, you won't be able to do that."
5. Now comes the hardest part of the trip for the Clippers. They were able to get out of New York after sitting for a lengthy stretch on the runway while their charter flight was de-iced early Saturday morning, but their next opponent might make them wish they had been snowed in. Toronto has been a bad matchup for the Clippers recently, sweeping the season series last year and thwacking them when the teams met in November at Staples Center in what might have been the low-water mark of the Clippers' season. Then the Clippers will conclude their trip with a back-to-back against Indiana and Atlanta, two more top Eastern Conference teams.
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