The LA Clippers earned a surprising victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night, winning 111-128 without the help of either of their two stars. The Clippers led virtually wire-to-wire — at times by as many as 28 points — to pick up their third-straight victory.
It was a reassuring win, proving to fans what this team is still capable of when it plays without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Several key role players stepped up and had phenomenal games — something we'll be diving into shortly — and a few others posted season-best numbers in the win.
One such player is Serge Ibaka, who went for a season-high 21 points to go along with nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks in 29 minutes of action. It was an impressive effort, even if it did come against a depleted Cleveland frontcourt.
Luke Kennard also played with plenty of confidence on Sunday night, and his aggression with his shot paid off. He went for 12 points, four rebounds and two assists in just under 29 minutes. His best stretch of the night came in the final minute of the first half, when he sank back-to-back three-pointers to put the Clippers up double-digits at the break.
With the win, the Clippers became the third team in the NBA this season to reach 20 victories. They'll have a chance to push that number to 21 when they host the Miami Heat on Monday night, but for now, let's take a look at what else stood out from Sunday's contest.
Lou Williams Double-Doubles in First Start of the Season
Yes, Lou Williams is 34, and yes, this is his 16th NBA season. None of that really seems to matter, though, because Lou Will is still doing Lou Will things.
The veteran guard earned his first start of the season on Sunday night in the absence of Leonard and George, and he made the very most of it. Williams went for 30 points and 10 assists in 32 minutes — all of which were season-high marks. It was also his fifth career game with at least 30 points and 10 assists, and it was good for the 20th double-double of his NBA career — 17 of which have come with the Clippers.
"For us, we're just in the moment," Williams said after the game. "You know what I mean? It's just trying to play the right way, do the right things on both ends of the floor. I thought in that second quarter when we kind of got it going and the way we were able to finish the half going into the third quarter gave us a lot of momentum. It felt good that the ball was moving around... When you're doing that, it's a really good feeling as a team."
As long as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George remain out, look for Williams to continue to start and provide the team with a big boost on the offensive end of the floor. He looks like he's having more fun than ever before, and he's never been hungrier for an NBA title.
Patrick Beverley Makes History and Celebrates Accordingly
Patrick Beverley has never been known as a high-scoring guard — at least, not during his time in the NBA — but on Sunday night, he made history by recording his 4,000th career point.
The shot came early in the third quarter, when Williams found Beverley in the left corner for a wide-open three-pointer. Beverley caught it, fired up the shot, and turned around to face the Cleveland bench as soon as it left his hands. After it fell through the net, Beverley ran back to his own bench, gesturing all the way over to show them what he just did.
At the time, Beverley probably wasn't aware of the milestone that he had just reached. But by the time his post-game media availability began, it was obvious that he was well aware of what had happened.
The 32-year-old sat down, Bud Light in hand, and said "Cheers" as he cracked open the can. He sipped on it throughout his session, talking extensively about the achievement and how he wanted his no-look three-pointer to go viral.
"I want that shot to go viral like how y'all be doing everybody else shot," Beverley said. "Let my s— go viral too now. Show me some love."
Beverley also mentioned that he's always been a great three-point shooter — "one of the best" in his own words — but people don't talk about it because he isn't well-liked outside of LA's fanbase. He raises a solid point there, too. Defense is his calling card, but Beverley is a career 38.3% shooter from three-point range. He's hitting at a career-high 43.6% this season as well.
Perhaps we could get him in the three-point contest one of these days.
When Will Kawhi and PG Play Again?
Things could get tricky for the LA Clippers shortly, as the team is preparing to host both the Utah Jazz and the Brooklyn Nets later this week. These would be challenging games at full strength, but without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the floor, the Clippers will really need to dig deep if they plan on winning their next handful of games.
George has missed five-straight with a toe injury, while Leonard missed Sunday's contest with a lower leg contusion. Neither player has a return date set up yet, but Lue hasn't seemed to indicate that the injuries are serious, either. He previously stated that George is currently day-to-day, but he didn't get a chance to check up on Leonard's status before Sunday's game.
We should get an update on Leonard's status soon, but expect both of them to remain sidelined for the time being.