Following their contest at the STAPLES Center on Sunday, the LA Clippers and Charlotte Hornets find themselves in the middle tier of their respective conferences. However, both teams are riding contrasting momentum.
The Clippers' 120-106 victory was their fourth straight win, pushing them to seventh in the Western Conference with a 5-4 record. For the Hornets, this was their fourth straight loss and ranks them at ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 5-6 record.
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After this game, it's the first time this season that the Los Angeles franchise are owners of a winning record and the first time that the Hornets are owners of a losing record.
The Flagrant foul that changed the game
At the 7:09 mark of the fourth quarter, a Terry Rozier 3-pointer had capped off a Hornets' 20-4 across quarters and put the team up 102-93. The visitors seemed like they had this game in the bag, however, things changed just over a minute later.
A Flagrant Foul 1 by Kelly Oubre Jr. on Ivica Zubac sparked the Clippers' comeback. The hosts turned the foul call, which gave them two free-throws and the ball, into a five-point possession and never looked back.
With just over five minutes to play, the Clippers went on a 22-0 game-changing run and eventually clinched the game with a 27-4 run over the final seven minutes. Reggie Jackson did the heavy lifting in that run, scoring or assisting on 13 of the 22 points.
For the lead! 👌- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) November 8, 2021
📺 @BallySportWest | @Reggie_Jackson pic.twitter.com/XWvYavYOWt
Jackson finished with 19 points, one of six Clippers to score in double figures. Paul George, who has raced-off to a hot start, nearly recorded a triple-double with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
For the Hornets, LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges were the team's top scorers with 21 apiece.
Are the Clippers back?
Coming off their Western Conference Finals appearance in the 2021 playoffs, the Clippers were off to a rough 1-4 start to the 2021-22 season. However, the gritty Clippers, the same squad that battled in last season's playoffs without Kawhi Leonard, seemed to have bounced back.
This victory is their fourth straight, and more importantly, in all of those wins their role players have supported their superstar Paul George, who had gotten off to a hot start with averages of 28.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.3 steals on shooting splits of 49.2 percent from the field and 41.1 percent from beyond the arc over the first six games.
While there's still room for improvement, the supporting cast has stepped up led by Reggie Jackson. In this game against the Hornets, Serge Ibaka returned to the line-up and played his first minutes since Mar. 14.
"It was not easy but it is what it is," Ibaka said after his season debut. "I didn't have choice to do nothing else, just to focus on to keep working and try to be patient and come back. And I did it."
Serge Ibaka talks about the long, hard process it was to get back on the court after his injury✊ #ClipperNation | @LAClippers pic.twitter.com/G2msIwO2Pm- Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) November 8, 2021
Although the veteran big man would play limited minutes, he certainly adds to the team's depth. And going forward, the Clippers play 11 of their next 13 games at home with only a few competitive games against opponents like Portland, Miami, Chicago, and Golden State.
Can they leap to the top of the West by making the most of this favourable upcoming stretch?
Are the Hornets legit?
It's a completely different scenario for the Hornets, who had gotten off to an impressive 5-2 start. Three of their four losses since have come on the road in San Francisco and Sacramento as part of their ongoing West Coast road trip.
This slump could be seen as a bump in the road, in the context of the 82-game regular season, but what's worrying is the team's defence. At the end of Sunday's action, their defensive rating of 113.4 ranks 30 and last in the league, even worse than those of the 1-9 New Orleans Pelicans and the 1-8 Detroit Pistons.
If this stat is a consequence of their playing style to start the season, they'll work harder and better on that end if they want to bounce back. Here's a look at their upcoming schedule until the Thanksgiving break:
|Nov. 9||at Los Angeles Lakers|
|Nov. 11||at Memphis|
|Nov. 13||vs. New York|
|Nov. 15||vs. Golden State|
|Nov. 18||vs. Washington|
|Nov. 20||vs. Indiana|
|Nov. 21||at Atlanta|
|Nov. 23||at Washington|
|Nov. 25||at Orlando|
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