May 17, 2021

Clippers give up huge lead, lose to Sacramento Kings

first_img“It’s a bad loss,” Paul said. “It’s probably the worst one in the regular season in my career, probably. Yeah, that’s tough. That was a bad one. That’s a bad loss.”The Kings ultimately overtook the Clippers when center Willie Cauley-Stein scored on a put-back with 1.8 seconds remaining. That play capped a frantic sequence after Jamal Crawford missed a corner 3-pointer with 8.9 seconds left in the game. The Kings opted against calling a timeout.Careening toward the rim, Ben McLemore missed a short floater in the lane, but Cauley-Stein was there to drop it back in.Chris Paul missed a 21-foot jumper as time expired.DeAndre Jordan led the Clippers with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Paul and Griffin each scored 17. LOS ANGELES >> Stunning as it was, Blake Griffin had no problem explaining the Clippers latest result amid a critical part of the season in which has the Clippers fighting for both consistency and the advantage of home court in the first round of the playoffs.“I know why it happened,” Griffin said. “We took our foot off the gas.”Not much earlier, he had been sitting on the bench next to Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, all of them back in warm-ups, enjoying the 18-point cushion they had built, certain the Clippers bench could close out their fifth win in six games.Instead, the Clippers collapsed. The Kings closed the game on a 22-3 run to hand the Clippers their most stunning loss of the season, 98-97. It was the second time in a week that the Clippers missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer. The other came Thursday in Dallas when J.J. Redick’s corner 3 rimmed out as time expired. They are 4-2 in their last six games, but two missed jumpers away from riding a 6-game winning streak.Those two losses, both against losing teams, are especially painful given the crowded playoff chase in the West. With a victory, the Clippers would tied the Jazz for fourth in the West and created 2.5 games of separation between themselves and Oklahoma City for sixth.“These games should mean so much more to us than to them,” Griffin said. “Nothing against (the Kings), but … we have something to play for. And tonight it looked like it was the opposite, the other way around in that last little bit.”The Clippers were coming off of an encouraging win Saturday against Utah, which now sits a full game ahead of the Clippers for the four-seed.“You can’t take one step forward, two steps back, two steps forward, one step back,” Griffin said. “You can’t have those steps back, especially in these type of situations.”Instead, they sit a full game back of the Jazz and avoided giving up any more ground to the Thunder, who lost Sunday to Houston.The Clippers built their biggest lead of the game, 94-76, when Paul Pierce buried a step-back jumper with 5:16 remaining in the fourth.It was the last field goal the Clippers would score.When the Kings cut the lead to 11, Doc Rivers inserted Paul and Griffin back in the lineup, something he had not planned on doing.“I just think it’s hard (for the players),” Rivers said. “It’s easy to ask guys to stay ready, but they’re looking at that lead thinking they’re not going back in.”The Clippers were playing their eighth game in 12 days, which, Rivers said, was “one of the reasons I was desperately trying to see if our bench could take us home.“Because I really did not want to put our guys back in, at all costs almost. And at the end of the day it may have cost us the game with that decision.”Griffin did not take the easy out.“That’s what we’re supposed to do,” Griffin said. “We’re supposed to be able to play at any time. You can’t really make that excuse because we were sitting out. We’ve got to be able to come in and be better. Like I said, it shouldn’t have gotten to that.”Buddy Hield made a 3-pointer with 2:19 remaining, and then another nine seconds later after a stealing Griffin’s pass in the backcourt.The Clippers missed their final nine field goal attempts and were 2-of-4 from the foul line. Among the missed free throws was one by Griffin with 1:57 left. After that, Sacramento’s Langston Galloway made a 3 to bring the Kings with 97-96.Then, with 1:11 remaining, the Clippers committed a shot clock violation.“If we don’t take this and use it as a motivation or something to learn from,” Griffin said, “then we’ve got bigger problems.”NOTES: The Clippers assigned rookie Brice Johnson to the Salt Lake City Stars of the D-League. He previously spent three games with the Stars earlier in March. … Starting shooting guard J.J. Redick did play Sunday after suffering a sprained right ankle against the Jazz on Saturday.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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