LA Clippers hold on to beat Sacramento Kings

first_imgSACRAMENTO >> You don’t just quit smoking cigarettes without walking by a cloud of smoke and being tempted. You don’t just stop gambling and ignore the sounds of slot machines ringing and roulette wheels spinning. You don’t just stop cursing without wanting to let a f-bomb fly every now and then.Old habits, as everyone knows, are hard to break. And, the Clippers, it seems, aren’t immune to this battle.Friday night was a reminder that these battles, they’re always there. In a 121-115 win in Sacramento, the 2016 Clippers looked like an older model.Instead of staying locked in for the entire game, the Clippers’ defense waned when the lead got bigger. Instead of staying even during the Sacramento runs, the Clippers looked around at one another or glared at the refs. Winning isn’t easy, especially on the road, and at times, the Clippers played like victory would be assumed.Up by 26 in the first half and by 19 heading into the fourth quarter, the Clippers walked around the court shocked by the Kings’ push.The lead shrunk all the way down to six points midway through the fourth, as the offense that glided through big chunks of the game now looked like they were moving through sludge.On two separate occasions, the Clippers failed to successfully inbound the ball after Kings’ baskets. They didn’t challenge shooters and they let rebounds squirt through their hands.But like the former smoker, the former gambler, the reformed potty-mouth, the Clippers don’t want to be their former selves. They want to be better, and in the final minutes, they found a way to keep from fully relapsing. On one critical fourth-quarter possession, the ball moved from the post on the left side of the floor to the right corner to Chris Paul beyond the 3-point line at the right elbow, where the Clipper point guard drilled a huge 3.On another, they perfectly executed a counter to a play to get Blake Griffin open underneath the rim, forcing the Kings to foul. Griffin made both free throws.Still, the Kings kept fighting because the Clippers never fully quieted them.Former Clipper Matt Barnes made all three fourth-quarter 3-point shots he took. And after the Clippers failed to corral a long rebound, Ty Lawson drained a wide-open 3 from the far corner cutting the lead all the way down to three. After a block and a Barnes free throw, it was just two.But Paul found DeAndre Jordan for a lob, and Paul got a huge steal, and Paul, who struggled shooting all night, split on two trips to the free-throw line, giving hi team just enough cushion to hold on. Friday, the Clippers didn’t take a drag of a smoke; they didn’t drop a paycheck at the tables.The old habits didn’t win. The Clippers were able to hold them off for a night.But the challenges, the allure to fall into familiar patterns, they’re not going anywhere.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img