Two days after a short-handed loss to their rival Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers flexed their muscle as a true contender for the 2020 NBA playoffs.
The Clippers stomped the Pelicans in a 126-103 win during their second game of the Disney World restart, and posted a franchise record in 3-pointers along the way. The Pelicans looked overwhelmed from tip-off, falling behind 12-2 before their first timeout and finding themselves down 77-45 at halftime.
A franchise-record 16 first-half 3-pointers did most of the early damage for Los Angeles, which came one short of the NBA record for a half.
Here’s how lopsided the half was:
The Clippers eventually set a franchise record in 3-pointers with 25 makes on 47 attempts, and came just short of the NBA record of 27, set by the Houston Rockets in 2019.
Paul George led all scorers with 28 points, shooting 8-for-11 from deep. The only other Clippers to score in double-digits were Kawhi Leonard and Reggie Jackson.
Zion Williamson’s minutes still limited
Just like in the Pelicans’ bubble-opening loss to the Utah Jazz, star rookie Zion Williamson played with a minutes limit. Pelicans executive David Griffin had indicated Williamson would be limited for at least the team’s first two games, citing the need to ramp up after Williamson’s exit from the bubble last week.
Williamson’s minutes might have also been suppressed by apparent ankle injury. After turning his ankle midway through the second quarter, Williamson did not appear again until the second half.
More minutes for Zion probably wasn’t going to cause a big point reversal, but the Pelicans’ refusal to play him in crunch time during their last game coupled with how much they were embarrassed by the Clippers has to leave you wondering what exactly they’re doing in Orlando.
Pelicans probably won’t make the playoffs
As 22 teams entered the restart, it wasn’t hard to see the Pelicans’ path to the playoffs. They were three games behind the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies with eight games to play, but only needed to capture ninth place and stay within four games of eighth place to force a play-in series.
The math has significantly changed since then, thanks to the Pelicans’ losses.
The Pelicans now find themselves four games back from the Grizzlies with six to play, and have both the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers between them and ninth place. It’s hard to see the Pelicans reaching the postseason without winning out, and Saturday’s game made clear that will be a tall order for a team that might be prioritizing Williamson’s outlook for next year over a shot at the Lakers in the first round.
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