LOS ANGELES – Saint Nick granted the Clippers an unforgettable gift Wednesday night, while disappointing the Sacramento Kings with a bit of coal in their stocking.
Lou Williams scored 24 points to go along with his six assists off the bench, while Montrezl Harrell added 22 points and nine rebounds to give the Clippers a 127-118 victory over the Kings. In Sacramento’s defense, they didn’t have home court advantage and it being the day after Christmas, perhaps they were still in the relaxed holiday mood.
LA earned first possession in the first quarter, and point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored the first layup of the night with an assist from Avery Bradley. The lead quickly drew bigger as LA pressed their luck and took shots outside the three; meanwhile, the Kings remained timid and stuck to the two-pointers. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough, and the Kings quickly trailed behind.
Danilo Gallinari created a six-point deficit due to his 23-foot three-pointer and Tobias Harris kept his status as the team’s top scorer with multiple 26-foot three-pointers to create a 31-19 score for his team.
Sacramento’s Buddy Hield drew in two points right before the first quarter ended, to decrease the point deficit to 12. The score read 39-27 going into the second quarter with the Clippers still in the lead.
Off the bat it was a back-and-forth battle between Clippers small forward Tyrone Wallace and Kings power forward Kosta Koufos. Wallace made the first shot of the second quarter with a two-point shot, and then eight seconds later, Koufos responded back with an alley-oop layup.
In the last nine minutes, excitement rose from the LA crowd when a turnover took place after Patrick Beverly stole the ball from Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein. Beverly ended up losing the ball, but luckily for him, Harrell was ready and finished the play with a major dunk to givew the Clippers a 20-point lead.
Before we knew it, it was a minute left on the clock in the second quarter, and Bogdan Bogdanovic scored five straight points to keep Sacramento in fighting distance. De’Aaron Fox added another pair of baskets to end the half, but the Kings were still trailing 71-56.
After making the last two shots of the first half, Fox took it upon himself to keep the points alive for his team. He scored the first shot of the third but was quickly retorted with a 23-foot three-pointer by Bradley. However, Nemanja Bjelica backed up Fox and responded to Bradley with a higher 28-foot three-pointer, creating a score of 74-61.
Just when we thought the heated conversation ended, the Clippers ganged up and brought out Harris and Boban Marjanovic to add seven points in a row. Harris had a 25-foot three, while Marjanovic came in clutch with a layup and a dunk.
All this back-and-forth frenzy happened within a little over a minute and ended the third with a score of 102-85 for the Clippers.
The game’s predictive analytics didn’t stop in the fourth. Sacramento fell short due to many missed shots, quick back-and-forth responses from both teams took place, and the Clippers remained in the lead. However, it wasn’t until the last five minutes of the game that the Kings decided to change their entire game plan.
When the Kings finally broke 100, they picked up their energy and momentum, which was something they should have done quarters ago. Nonetheless, they kicked it into gear and went from an 18-point deficit to four, all within three minutes.
With two minutes remaining, the Kings were down 119-115, their closest margin of the game. The Kings finally had a chance to win, but the Clippers drew in another two when Gallinari assisted Harrell and created a 121-115 score. Frank Mason III tried to redeem his team and went for a three-point jumper to increase Sacramento’s score to 121-118 with only a minute remaining.
Unfortunately, for the Kings, it was all “too little too late” when Williams, Gallinari, and Harris showed off and made the last six points of the night, leading the Clippers to victory.
Sacramento guard De’Aaron Fox talked after the game about how his team tried to spin a positive out of the close loss.
“Things that I was saying was, let’s just try to leave this game with some momentum, you know, we have another game tomorrow,” Fox said. “You can’t let a game like this dictate how you come out tomorrow. If we would’ve won this game, I would’ve let it go, same way that I’m going to let it go now. We play the Lakers tomorrow and that’s what we focus on.”
Sacramento will face the Los Angeles Lakers at home on Thursday night, while the Clippers will have a day to rest and prepare for their “away” game against the Lakers on Friday.