Sports Out West

Clippers bench comes up big versus Celtics

Photo Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Following another slow start to a game, the Los Angeles Clippers (15-8) seemed to finally wake up early in the third quarter thanks largely in part to their bench play. The Clippers scored 57 points in the second half, compared to just 49 in the first, and turned up the defensive intensity to pull out a 96-88 victory over the Boston Celtics (10-14). 

“I thought at halftime they were really mad at the way they were playing, so that’s good,” Rivers said after the game. He added that an emotional win on the road like this one “help bring your team together.”

Although Chris Paul and Blake Griffin scored scored 18 of the Clippers’ first 20 points, they found themselves down three after the first quarter, and down six at halftime. 

“And it’s funny, I told my coaches I needed halftime far more than the players,” Rivers said when asked about the emotions he felt during the game. “And I think they sensed that, I will say that. You could see at halftime CP (Chris Paul) he was like, ‘We got it. We got it.’ He kept saying that. So I think they sensed that a little bit for me, and that was nice.”

The second half saw a completely different level of effort from the Clippers, specifically on the defensive end. They were able to get timely stops that resulted in fast break opportunities. The most promising stat of all was the Clippers’ bench outscoring Boston’s 34-4. The Clippers had the third highest scoring bench last season (40.1 points per game), but have dropped down to No. 12 in that category this season (32.9 points per game). On the road, the bench is averaging 30.5 points per game. Given the recent injuries to J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, and Reggie Bullock, having an above-average performance from the bench on the road was not only welcome, but much-needed. Jamal Crawford led the way for the bench with 21 points on 7-for-14 shooting. 

The need for increased bench production is primarily a result of Redick’s injury. With Redick in the lineup (17 games), the Clippers had an offensive rating of 197.9; since his injury, they have dropped down to a rating of 98.2 on offense. The numbers indicate a fairly large gap in production that hasn’t been filled. One player won’t be able to re-create the impact Redick had on offense, but a group of players can. In addition to Crawford’s contributions versus Boston, Darren Collison added 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Definitely good news for a bench unit whose production must inch closer to what it was in 2012-2013. 

The Clippers are now 3-2 on their seven-game road trip. They face the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, and finish the trip Saturday against the Washington Wizards. 

Photo Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

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Rohit Ghosh

LA Clippers beat writer
Rohit is an L.A.-based sports journalist who contributes to SB Nation's Silver Screen and Roll, AccuScore, and the Taxi Squad Show based out of Utah. He also runs his own sports blog, Metta Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter @RohitGhosh where he discusses AccuScore projection data, a variety of sports-related topics, and even some Jazz music.