Just a few nights after being limited to 40 second-half points by the Golden State Warriors, the LA Clippers put on a show on the offensive end of the floor in their 130-127 win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon.
Their 130 points were the most they've scored in a game so far this season, and the team hit that number thanks to an efficient shooting display. The Clippers were red-hot from three-point range, connecting on 20 of their 38 attempts, and shot just below 50% from the field on the night.
That said, this was no easy win for LA. Chicago was in control for much of the game, leading for almost the entirety of the first half and a good chunk of the third quarter. Even in the final seconds, the Bulls were a missed three-pointer away from sending this one to overtime.
They, too, had an impressive night shooting the ball, connecting on 61% of their attempts from the field and 18 of their 33 attempts from beyond the arc. However, Chicago got up 15 fewer shots than LA — something that has to do with their rebounding and ball security.
The Clippers dominated the offensive glass in the win, grabbing 12 offensive rebounds to Chicago's three, and committed just 10 turnovers to Chicago's 22. Those extra possessions were crucial for LA and ultimately proved to be the difference in the contest.
Let's take a look at a few other things that helped the Clippers come away on top.
Tyronn Lue Makes the Right Adjustments
Coming into Sunday's game, it was clear that the pairing of Lou Williams, Luke Kennard and Reggie Jackson was clearly not working. Not only was the trio a major liability on the defensive end, but they simply weren't clicking on offense, either. A change was necessary — and Ty Lue made it.
Not only was Jackson completely cut from the rotation, but Lue also kept Williams and Kennard from sharing the floor together. And while the defensive benefits of the decision weren't all that obvious on Sunday, there's no denying that it'll pay dividends as the season goes on.
After the game, Lue discussed his decision with the media, saying that the coaching staff had decided to get a 10-game sample size on the Jackson - Williams - Kennard trio. Once the numbers came back on how they performed together, they decided to move away from the lineup.
In the future, Lue says the coaches will try to keep the minutes that those players share to a minimum, and that they'll instead look to play them individually with four defenders.
Not only will this decision allow Jackson, Williams and Kennard to do what they do best, but they'll also need to worry less about how they perform on the defensive side of the floor.
Lou Williams Returns to Form
Speaking of Lou Williams, the three-time Sixth Man of the Year had himself a game against the Chicago Bulls.
Sweet Lou went for a season-high 21 points to go along with four assists, three steals and a rebound in just over 23 minutes — impressive numbers nonetheless — but the box score doesn't tell the whole story.
Williams was aggressive with his shot in the win, going left with every chance he got and punishing the Bulls for allowing him to do it. For the first time this season, Williams resembled the player we've grown accustomed to seeing throughout his tenure with the Clippers.
That wasn't a coincidence, either.
After the game, Lue told reporters that he had a talk with Williams where he encouraged him to "be himself" and worry less about being a playmaker. Williams elaborated on the conversation shortly after, saying Lue told him he needed him to "go back to his old ways" and focus more on being a score-first guard.
One game obviously isn't a large enough sample size, but one would have to feel confident about where Williams is headed.
Kawhi Leonard Loses His "Extra Defender"
There were several individual performances from Sunday's game worth writing about, but it would be a shame to use this space to talk about anyone other than Kawhi Leonard.
LA's two-way superstar went off for a season-high 35 points in the win, connecting on a career-high seven three-pointers on just nine attempts. Overall, he sank 14 of his 22 attempts from the field and chipped in an additional four assists, three steals and two rebounds.
His third-quarter performance was a masterclass, as Leonard scored 21 of his 35 points in the frame on 8-of-9 shooting from the field and 5-of-5 from beyond the arc. He matched each bucket that Bulls guard Zach LaVine was hitting, who logged 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from deep in the period.
During his postgame media session, Lue joked that Leonard, who had played the entirety of the game without a protective mask, had finally lost his "extra defender." Leonard, of course, denied that the mask had any impact on his recent performances.
On the season, Leonard is now averaging 24.4 points, 5.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game and shooting a blistering 43.2% from three-point range. It's early, but he's already setting himself up for another All-NBA season.