Harris scores 22, Clippers down Wizards
LOS ANGELES — In a season where putting up lots of points has been a nightly occurrence, the Los Angeles Clippers have also been trying to win with their defense.
Tobias Harris scored 22 points to lead nine players in double-figures as the Los Angeles Clippers coasted to a 136-104 victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.
“It was because of our defense,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Everybody’s excited about the offense, but its the defense that does the dirty work and allows everybody to score.”
Lou Williams added 17 points on his 32nd birthday for the Clippers, who shot 54 percent from the field, made 16-of-29 3-pointers, and outrebounded Washington 57-45.
“As a team, we want to not only be known as an offensive team in the West, but a defensive team as well,” said Avery Bradley who had 15 points. “We know defense wins games, and that’s our mentality going into games.”
Two nights after posting a 133-113 road victory over the Houston Rockets, the Clippers held the Wizards to a season-low in points and won for the fourth time in their last five games.
“We know what we have in the locker room,” said Clippers guard Patrick Beverley. “Whatever the standings might be, whatever is said on paper, you’ve got to play the game. And we like to play the game.”
Bradley Beal scored 20 points and John Wall added 18 for Washington, which shot 40 percent and missed 22 of 27 3s. The Wizards are 1-5 this season and have lost 11 in a row to the Clippers in Los Angeles, dating back to Feb. 13, 2008.
“Our defense was horrendous. I don’t know how we expect to win,” said Wizards reserve guard Austin Rivers. “Teams are just walking into the paint, making layups, getting open threes. It just comes from effort and talking. You’ve just got to have personal pride. You’ve got to get mad when somebody scores on you.”
After Washington pulled within 81-71, the Clippers ran off 16 unanswered points, including three 3-pointers by Patrick Beverley, for a 97-71 lead with 2:15 left in the third. The Wizards missed three shots and turned the ball over twice in the run.
Leading 21-18, the Clippers capped a 14-2 spurt with a 3-pointer by Williams for a 35-20 advantage with 10:58 left in the second quarter. After two free throws by Jeff Green, back-to-back lay-ins by Harris gave Los Angeles its biggest lead to that point at 42-24 with 9:24 left in the half.
The Wizards got within 52-45 only to see the Clippers expand their lead to 69-54 by halftime. Back-to-back dunks by Harris early in the third quarter put Los Angeles up 77-60 with 8:26 left in the third.
We have to be one of the best teams chemistry-wise,” Harris said of the Clippers. “It’s just a matter of us continuing to build on that, and I think we’ve still got a ways to go in that department.”
Wizards: Markieff Morris (flu-like symptoms) was a game-time decision. The Wizards were playing their fourth of five road games, their longest trip of the season, and fourth straight in the Pacific Time Zone. … Dwight Howard (gluteal soreness) missed his fifth straight game working out back in Washington.
Clippers: Avery Bradley’s 3-pointer with 4:58 left in the first quarter, his third of the game, was the 600th of his NBA career. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sank a 3-point shot from the center circle as time expired in the first quarter to give the Clippers a 28-20 lead. … Luc Mbah a Moute (sore left knee) sat out his second straight game.
The game was the first in which Doc Rivers coached against his son, Austin Rivers, since Austin was traded by the Clippers to the Wizards in June after four years with the lippers.
“In New Orleans (in 2014), at least the first time, it was really cool. I didn’t even know what to do. Shake his hand? Wish him luck?” said Doc Rivers. “Now, you just want to beat him. And he wants to beat me. That’s the way it is.”
With his fourth rebound with 3:59 left in the half, Marcin Gortat moved past Al Horford into 15th place on the NBA’s all-time Total Rebound list, and finished with seven for the game, putting him at 6,153 rebounds for his career. John Wall played his 547th game for the Wizards, moving him into 9th place on the team’s all-time list, one behind Jeff Malone.
RIVERS HOT OVER LUE
Doc Rivers did not mince words when asked about the Cavaliers decision to fire Tyronn Lue on Sunday.
“We talked for a long time because he’s really disappointed,” said Rivers. “But he has a lot to be proud of. He did a heck of a job in extreme circumstances. I’m probably no prouder of anybody who’s played for me and been a coach under me than Ty Lue. It makes me so angry when you see stuff like that, but there’s nothing you can do about it. He handled it better than me. He handled it with amazing class, thanked everybody. He’s better than me.”
Wizards: Conclude a five-game road trip in Memphis on Tuesday night.
Clippers: At Oklahoma City, where they’ve lost three in a row, on Tuesday night.