The ups and downs from this roller coaster of a season have provided plenty of moments to remember. The LA Clippers are treading water without their two best players. Among the lows are losses to sub-500 teams, injuries, and losing players to health and safety protocols. But amongst the highs are performances from unexpected contributors, comebacks, and rivalry wins. Here, I break down the top three moments of the Clippers’ season so far.
LA Clippers: Top 3 Moments This Season
3. Clippers beat Lakers
In the first matchup of the season for the Battle of LA rivalry, there was plenty of activity leading up to the game. In the wake of Lakers’ forward LeBron James entering health and safety protocols, ESPN decided to flex the game off their network. Days later, James cleared protocols and was deemed available to play for the game. And up until the final tip, it was revealed that both coaches made changes to their starting lineups. Clippers’ coach Ty Lue decided to start the two-big lineup of Serge Ibaka and Ivica Zubac. While Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel benched former Clipper DeAndre Jordan in favor of Dwight Howard. Demonstrating that both coaches wanted to win this one.
The actual game was lackluster in the first half but picked up in the second. The Clippers got contributions from everyone, even though Paul George struggled percentage-wise. But this game may go down as the night that unlocked Luke Kennard. Kennard drained two clutch threes that kept the Clippers on top before Marcus Morris‘ three put the Lakers away for good. Ever since that game, Kennard’s confidence skyrocketed, and he has been proving why he is worthy of the extension the Clippers gave him two summers ago.
2. Undermanned Clippers Take Down the Nets on New Year’s Day
Second night of a back-to-back. No All-Stars. No Morris or Kennard. Against one of the best teams in the east led by James Harden and Kevin Durant? No problem. After a loss to the Toronto Raptors the night before, it looked like the Clippers were in for another loss on their east coast road trip. Whether it was a New Year’s hangover or the Clippers’ grit, the unexpected became reality.
With a multitasking effort from guard Eric Bledsoe, the Clippers hopped on his back in the second half to remain in striking distance with the Nets. But it was not just Bledsoe that contributed to the team’s success, but the makeshift bench lineup that never played a minute together that kept the team afloat. Due to health and safety protocols taking players out of the rotation, the Clippers rolled out Xavier Moon, James Ennis, and Wenyen Gabriel. Each player affected the game whether it was playing hard, cutting, or hitting jumpers. The team took on Lue’s identity and never folded, even when he was in protocols as well.
The win was captivated by one of Clipper Nation’s favorite young players, Terance Mann. In a play reminiscent of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, the Clippers played out the double, hit the short roll, and found the open shooter to ice the game. It was a game that cured many hangovers, and one that Clipper Nation is proud of.
3. Clippers Comeback from 25 to Beat Denver
If I told you that an NBA team would only score 28 points at the half, then fall 25 points down in the third quarter, were to win, would you believe me? Well, the LA Clippers did that. The offense was dreadful, especially from starting guard Reggie Jackson. Jackson couldn’t buy a basket in the first half and only scratched once in the third quarter. But it was Eric Bledsoe, similarly to the Brooklyn game, who helped bring the Clippers back. With solid defense, ball-seeking steals, and aggressive penetration, Bledsoe gave the Clippers a lift, who slowly started to come back.
He was not the only hero, though. Amir Coffey, on the second year of a two-way deal, was sensational. Displaying playmaking chops, running the floor, and knocking down threes. He played a team-high 43 minutes and scored a team-high 18 points in which he only rested for a little less than half the second quarter. His energy and activity paired with the Clippers’ small ball lineup helped them claw their way back in time for Jackson to display his fourth-quarter heroics. After an abysmal first half, the starting guard atoned for his poor play by hitting three consecutive tough shots and a poster on Nikola Jokic. It was all a part of the Reggie Jackson roller coaster experience that Clipper fans have grown to love and hate.
After Reggie’s heroics, the Clippers capped off the comeback with back-to-back threes from Coffey and Nicolas Batum. What should not be lost amongst the team’s fourth-biggest comeback in franchise history is play-by-play broadcaster Brian Sieman’s calls throughout the whole night. Whether it was the Coffey puns or a classic “Batum Batallion assemble!”, the night was full of good vibes from everyone involved with the LA Clippers that night.
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