Griffin’s late shot lifts Clippers over Kings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Isolated against a slightly taller man and facing him, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin thought initially about trying to drive with the basketball to the rim.
It didn’t work out quite like he hoped.
“They clogged up the paint pretty good,” Griffin said. “So I had to pull up and shoot a fade-away.”
Griffin’s second choice was the winning one. His high-arcing shot from the left wing swished through the cylinder with 3.2. seconds left, giving the Clippers a 97-95 victory over the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on Saturday.
It also saved them the embarrassment of letting a 10-point lead get away in the final 3 1/2 minutes and gave them their second straight win after a nine-game losing streak.
“It’s big for us to get a couple (wins) on the road and get this thing turned around,” Clippers guard Lou Williams said.
Griffin scored a season-high 33 points, and Williams finished with 18 for Los Angeles. Each outscored the Kings in the decisive third quarter, scoring 12 points apiece as the Clippers (7-11) blitzed Sacramento 29-10 to turn around a game that Sacramento led 65-47 two possessions into the second half.
On the final play, Griffin took control of the ball at the top left of the arc, with Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein fronting him. He took a couple of dribbles left, then pulled up at the wing.
“It worked out,” Griffin said. “You have to take wins any way you can get them.”
Buddy Hield scored a season-best 27 points to lead Sacramento, including eight during a 10-0 run that forged a 95-95 tie with 14.8 seconds remaining. Hield hit four 3-pointers and six straight shots overall during a 6-minute stretch late in the game.
But his running left-hander from just inside the arc didn’t draw iron as time expired. Clippers forward DeAndre Jordan ran Hield off the 3-point line, causing him to go left and throw up a while shot.
“I couldn’t get to my right hand, and my shot,” Hield said. “I feel like if I got to my right hand (Jordan) would’ve blocked it. I knew I had to get the shot up, so I tried pushing it with my left hand.”
Said Griffin: “DeAndre did a great job of running him off the line,” Griffin said of his teammate. “Obviously, he’s an elite shooter.”
The Clippers were elite shooters after Skal Labissiere and George Hill hit shots on consecutive possessions to give Sacramento (5-14) its 18-point lead. Los Angeles made 6 of 7 shots from 3-point range to start the second half, with Williams nailing all four of his attempts.
Wesley Johnson knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers from the corner in the fourth quarter and finished with eight points. Austin Rivers added 14 points, and Los Angeles won for the 10th straight time in Sacramento.
The Kings rode blistering 58.5 percent shooting from the floor, including 7-for-10 from 3-point range to its halftime advantage.
But in the second half, Sacramento made only 14 of 42 shots and turned over the ball 10 times. Williams made 3’s on three straight possessions to start Los Angeles on a 17-0 run after they fell behind by 18.
Sacramento didn’t convert a shot from the floor for 6:45, and by the time Bogdanovic ended the drought with a layup, the Clippers were ahead 69-67.
“We were less aggressive, and they were the aggressors,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “They came out and made shots, made plays and got loose balls.”
NOTES: The Clippers will play the rest of the season without G Patrick Beverley (arthroscopic surgery performed on his right knee), and without him, they’ve surrendered 110.5 points per contest and have not held any of their six opponents below 100 points. With Beverley, the Clippers held opponents to 104.3 points — a mark that includes a 141-point beating the Warriors put on them in October — and below the century plateau five times. ... Kings TV analyst Jerry Reynolds, 73, who coached 170 games for the Kings in two stints from 1987-90, revealed to the Sacramento Bee earlier this week that he once received a fan letter from cult leader Charles Manson during one of his coaching stints, and that it “shook me up.” ... The nine-game losing streak that preceded the Clippers’ past two victories marked the longest for the team since a nine-game skid in the 2010-11 season, the last time Los Angeles failed to make the playoffs. ... The Kings will play the second of six home-and-road back-to-backs this season when they face the Golden State Warriors on Monday. They play Milwaukee the following night. Sacramento played eight such back-to-backs last year, going a cumulative 7-9.