The LA Clippers earned their third-largest win of the season on Saturday night, crushing the Charlotte Hornets in a game they led from wire-to-wire.
It was as dominant a contest as the Clippers have played in months — a refreshing and encouraging sign, considering LA's inconsistency as of late. Since Feb. 2, the Clippers have gone just 11-11.
But the Clippers we saw take the floor last night seemed to resemble the pre-February squad that dominated the league through the early part of the season. Not only were they sharp on offense, scoring 125 points and recording 26 assists on 45 makes, but the Clippers were also able to hold their opponent under 100 points for just the seventh time this year. Not surprisingly, LA has gone 7-0 in such games.
Maintaining that consistency on both ends of the floor will be key for the Clippers as they aim to make a late-season push for a top-four seed in the Western Conference. With a slew of home games ahead on the schedule, now is the time for this team to lock-in and show us exactly what it's capable of.
Let's take a closer look at what else went right for LA on Saturday night.
Paul George had one of his best performances of the season against the Charlotte Hornets, racking up 21 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in just under 33 minutes. His most impressive stat of the night, though, was the goose egg he posted in the turnovers column.
George, who came into the night averaging a little more than three turnovers per game, didn't give up a single one against Charlotte. It was the first time in his career that George had at least 10 assists with no turnovers and only his 10th game with 10 or more assists.
His most impressive assist of the night came early in the second quarter. After gathering a rebound under the basket, George dribbled the ball up the right side of the court and spotted Kawhi Leonard on the far side, making a beeline for the basket. George picked up his dribble at mid-court and hurled a high-arcing pass into the paint, where Leonard elevated, caught it, and threw it down.
After the game, George explained what he thought stood out about his performance.
"10 assists," George said. "I play the game to make my teammates better. I play for my teammates. Turnovers are a part of the game, I'm not a perfect player, far from it, so I got to roll with whatever happens on the court."
George's game was a rarity in Clippers history — according to the team, he became the fourth player in franchise history to have at least 20 points, 10 assists and five rebounds with zero turnovers in a single game. Chris Paul was the last Clippers player to accomplish that feat in December 2016.
Nicolas Batum Gets Revenge
Ahead of Saturday's contest, Clippers forward Nicolas Batum revealed how he found out that he was being released by the Charlotte Hornets.
"On Twitter," Batum said. "Like everybody else."
He gave his former team a performance to remember last night.
The veteran forward went for 11 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in just under 28 minutes of action, and while he failed to convert any of his three-point attempts, Batum did throw down a breakaway slam just before halftime that got his wife excited on Twitter.
After the game, Lou Williams spoke on their blowout win and what it's like to go up against your former team.
"We didn't talk about it," Williams said. I don't want to be fake and act like we talked about it, but anytime you play your former team there's added juice to try to go out and win that game. I was glad we did it in the fashion that we did, so it was a good job."
Regardless of whether it was discussed or not, seeing the team rally around Batum this season has been special. He's played an instrumental role in LA's success this season, and it seems as though he's been a perfect fit both on and off the court.
Clippers Continue to Limit Turnovers
Turnovers have been a thorn in the LA Clippers' side at times this season — especially earlier in the year. But the Clippers have done a magnificent job of protecting the ball lately, with a few exceptions.
Over their last eight games, the Clippers are turning the ball over just 10.9 times per game, which is significantly lower than their season mark of 13.1. Even that figure, though, is the fourth-best in the league.
Coach Tyronn Lue was particularly impressed with how well LA hung onto the ball in the second half of Saturday's game.
"I thought we did a good job in having only two turnovers in the second half," Lue said. "I thought we shared the basketball... It was a total team effort, the things we've been talking about, the things we've been wanting to do offensively and defensively we did it pretty well tonight."
If this Clippers team is able to effectively maximize possessions and continue to limit takeaways, LA's already-efficient offense could get even better — which should scare the rest of the league.