Clippers talk and play a good game after players-only meeting
As the Clippers’ plane took flight to Milwaukee from Minneapolis late Tuesday night, the loss to the Timberwolves still stinging, Austin Rivers, DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams gathered their teammates for a meeting.
The conversation centered on the group playing for one another, on playing as a unit and on sacrificing for the good of the team.
And then when it came time to lead in the game after delivering their message, Jordan, Rivers and Williams were the catalysts behind the Clippers’ 127-120 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks that broke a four-game losing streak.
It all started with the energy and force Jordan brought with him, his 14 points and 10 rebounds in the first quarter setting the tone and allowing the rest of the Clippers to follow his lead in another significant late-season game for this team.
Jordan finished with 25 points, 22 rebounds and four assists. He also made five of six free throws in the final 1:38, the last two giving the Clippers a comfortable 122-113 lead with 53.1 seconds left.
It was the third 20-20 game of the season for Jordan and 10th of his career.
Rivers took over in the third quarter, scoring 14 of his 22 points. He was eight for 17 from the field, five-for-nine from three-point range.
Williams closed it out in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his 19 points for the Clippers, who shot 52.3% from the field and 50% (15 of 30) beyond the arc.
Williams also had eight assists to help the Clippers defeat the Bucks, who lost All-Star Giannis Anteto-kounmpo to a sprained right ankle injury that kept him out of the second half.
Antetokounmpo, who had 37 points in a loss at Cleveland on Monday, had 12 points before departing. The team didn’t have an update on Antetokounmpo’s condition after the game.
Austin Rivers said he called the players-only meeting to tell his teammates that, “We’re not going out like this.”
His message was: “I was just like, ‘If we’re going to go out, we’re going to go out together. If we’re going to lose, we’re going to lose together. If we’re going to win, we’re going to win together. No more bickering. No more, we need to do this. No more questioning each other, the coaches, whoever. We’ve got to be one team, one unit, playing with high energy and compete. Let’s play harder than the other team and then if they beat us, you tip your hat to them. But no more of this ... losing team kind of mind-set. That’s what losing teams have. We’re not one of those teams.’
“I thought it was only right we have one of those.”
Though they remained in 10th place in the Western Conference, the Clippers gained some ground in the playoff picture. They are only two games behind the eighth-place Utah Jazz.
“Listen, I’ve been here for four years and I’ve only ever been to the playoffs,” Rivers said. “I told DJ the same thing. I said, ‘I’m not trying to go backwards.’ And if we do lose and we don’t make the playoffs, we at least go into the summer like, ‘You know what? We gave it everything we got.’
“I don’t want to go into the summer and not making the playoffs and us being like, ‘Man, we just fell apart there. We should have did this.’ I don’t like that kind of stuff. So, I felt like it was only right for me and DJ to do that. I’m glad we had it. We needed it.”
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