Establishing a 35-17 first quarter lead Friday night, the Los Angeles Clippers lived off it for the game’s final three quarters en route to a 116-102 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Six players scored in double figures for the Clippers, led by Tobias Harris with 23 points and reserve forward Montrezl Harrell with 20 points. DeAndre Jordan was dominant inside with 20 points and 23 rebounds, while Lou Williams and Austin Rivers added 15 points apiece. Rookie Sindarius Thornwell chipped in 14.
LeBron James scored a game-high 25 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and doled out six assists to lead Cleveland, but also committed five turnovers. Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to add 21 points, while Larry Nance contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds. J.R. Smith tallied 15 points and George Hill potted 10.
The Clippers took the lead for good less than three minutes into the game on two free throws by Thornwell, part of a 9-0 spurt. Los Angeles ended the period with an 18-6 run, with Williams draining a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left to build the 18-point lead that the Cavaliers couldn’t overcome.
The game’s final 36 minutes took on a simple plot — Cleveland made a run and the Clippers kept them at bay. The Cavaliers drew within 42-33 with 7:51 left in the first half on a 4-point play by Clarkson, but Los Angeles expanded the advantage back to 19 before settling for a 61-47 lead at halftime.
Cleveland made its most meaningful push late in the third quarter, peeling off 12 straight points and pulling within 81-77 when James drove for a transition layup with 1:39 remaining. But Harrell canned two free throws and dunked in the final minute to give the Clippers an eight-point lead after three periods.
The Cavaliers never got closer than eight in the fourth quarter, with Los Angeles icing the outcome on Harris’ 3-pointer with 1:46 remaining that made it 114-102.
Cleveland’s lead over Indiana in the Central Division dropped to a half-game, while the Clippers remained in a three-way virtual tie with Denver and Utah for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
—Field Level Media