Clippers ease into lighter schedule with win over Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks

first_imgUnless you count playing the lowly Knicks. Entering Monday, New York had lost six of its last eight games and will miss the playoffs for the third straight year since Phil Jackson took over their front office.With 11 games remaining, the Clippers won’t have much to complain about. Only four of their remaining games are against teams with winning records, and eight are at home. By many measurements, the Clippers have the easiest record of Western Conference teams bound for the playoffs.They can anticipate more games like the one against the woeful Knicks (27-43) than not.For the second straight game, the Clippers won in a rout and were able to leave all five of their starters on the bench for the entirety of the fourth quarter.Blake Griffin scored 20 of his 30 points in halftime, to lead the Clippers, who moved within one game of the Jazz for fourth in the Western Conference. LOS ANGELES >> For more than a month, the Clippers have lamented a March schedule loaded with back-to-backs, rampant travel and zero time for practice.Monday’s 114-105 victory over the New York Knicks served to remind the Clippers that things are about to get much easier.Yes, the Clippers (42-29) have to recover quickly to face the Lakers on Tuesday before traveling to Dallas for a game on Thursday. And the Utah Jazz, a potential playoff opponent, comes to Staples Center on Saturday.“I don’t focus on the playoff part of it,” Doc Rivers said prior to the blowout. “I focus on we just have to keep playing better. Since everyone’s been back (from injury), we’re still trying to put our team back together. We need work, and with the schedule, there is no time to practice.” Five other Clippers scored in double digits, including Chris Paul (13 points, 13 assists) and DeAndre Jordan (14 points, 10 rebounds). Austin Rivers led the bench with 17 points.A dominant stretch from Griffin and Paul early in the third allowed the Clippers to break away. L.A. scored 11 straight points in a 1:14 stretch to open up an 80-577 advantage. At the end of the quarter, it had turned into a laugher. The Clippers outscored the Knicks 34-19 in the period and led by 25 points going to the fourth.The Knicks staged something of a comeback, closing within eight points with 1:33 remaining. However, Griffin, Paul and Jordan did not so much as tug at their warm-up apparel. Rivers trusted the reserves to finish the job – and they did.Carmelo Anthony, earlier this season a Clippers trade target, finished with 16 points, while Kristaps Porzingis and former Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose both scored eight.The Clippers still haven’t developed a great defensive rhythm, although on Monday they held the Knicks to 44.9 percent shooting from the field, including 25 percent from 3-point range (6 for 24).It’s the defense that has most seriously hindered the Clippers since mid-February. They are 7-7 since Paul returned from a torn ligament in his left thumb, an injury that significantly disrupted the Clippers’ progression.“I think the defensive part hurt the most,” Rivers said. “Guys were playing heavy minutes, now they’re not. I like where we’re headed, even though we haven’t played well to prove that.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more