Clippers continue to get close wins with clutch play in fourth quarters
This collection of Clippers has shown an innate ability to be undaunted in crucial moments.
Whether it’s Kawhi Leonard, Paul George or Lou Williams making a game-altering shot in a tense and competitive affair, or it’s Patrick Beverley with menacing defense or Montrezl Harrell throwing down a rim-rattling dunk, the Clippers are delivering in clutch situations.
Such was the case for the Clippers in victories last week over the Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Guys on this team don’t shy away from the moment,” Leonard said late Friday night after the Clippers pulled out a 122-119, come-from-behind win over the Rockets at Staples Center. “They want to play their best basketball in the fourth quarter, everyone’s trying to execute and make shots and play great defense.”
The Clippers were down six points with 1:26 left before mounting a furious rally.
Williams made a three-pointer to pull the Clippers to within three points after coach Doc Rivers ran onto the court frantically trying to call a timeout that he was not given.
“I was trying to get a timeout and no one saw me, including the ref, who I was going like this to,” said Rivers, making the signal of a timeout. “Fortunately we got a three on that play.”
After going down by five, George and Williams made back-to-back three-pointers for a one-point Clippers lead.
James Harden answered with two free throws to put the Clippers back in a one-point deficit with 22.1 seconds left, but Leonard then scored to give his team a lead it never lost.
“We execute at the right times,” George said. “We get the stops we need at the right times. There’s going to be moments in the game where we have our ups and downs, but that’s to be expected and I think this group knows that.”
On Wednesday against the Celtics at home, the Clippers found a way to rally from seven points down with 2:21 left in the fourth to force overtime. They were then able to hang on for a 107-104 win over the Celtics after Leonard blocked a game-tying three-point attempt by Kemba Walker in the extra period.
On Monday against the Thunder, George drilled the go-ahead three-pointer with 25.9 seconds left in the Clippers’ 90-88 win.
“We’ve got good basketball players,” Leonard said. “Guys want to play well in the fourth quarter. They’re not shying away from the moment.”
Westbrook’s brother escorted out of arena
The brother of Houston All-Star guard Russell Westbrook was escorted out of Staples Center on Friday night for his role in a heated exchange with Harrell and for his “belligerent” behavior while going onto the court, people who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter told The Times on Saturday.
After the game, Raynard Westbrook took a shortcut across the court and was partially on the court when he confronted Harrell.
Security staff members from Staples Center surrounded Raynard Westbrook and walked him off the court.
“He was pretty belligerent and so they walked him out of the building,” said one person with knowledge of the situation. “As soon as security got to him, he was screaming and yelling and didn’t want to go in the direction they wanted him to, but he did.”
A Staples Center spokesperson said the arena has a policy in which anybody who goes on the court in an unauthorized manner before, during or after the game is escorted out of the building, and subject to arrest. But there was no arrest made, according to one person.
Beverley was fined $5,000 by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-flopping rules for the second time this season. The incident took place during the first quarter of the Clippers’ win over the Rockets.
VS. NEW ORLEANS
When: 6 p.m., Sunday.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570.
Update: The Pelicans are playing on the second consecutive night after facing Utah on Saturday. They have already beaten the Clippers (11-5) once this season, on Nov. 14, but forward Leonard and guard Beverley did not play in that game. Amid their 10-1 start at home, the Clippers have outscored opponents by 10 points per game and won fourth quarters by an average of 8.4 points.
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