On the last half of a back-to-back, and on their third game on four nights, the LA Clippers finally faltered. In was a seven-game winning streak, but it ends there in a loss to the Chicago Bulls at home.
The Clippers looked like the team with a rest disadvantage from the opening tip, falling behind by as many as 17 points in the first half. The remainder of the game was spent chipping away at that deficit, but each time the Clippers got within striking distance, a bad turnover or missed shot would kill all the momentum.
It was always going to be tough to beat this Chicago Bulls team on the last half of a back-to-back, but the all-star duo of DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine made sure that it was impossible. DeRozan was the star of this game, pouring in a game-high 35 points on an insane 12/16 from the field. Zach LaVine added 29 of his own, and those two took over down the stretch.
On the play of DeRozan, Clippers head coach Ty Lue said, "I thought he was too comfortable in that first half." Coach Lue added that once the Clippers slowed down DeMar, then LaVine got going.
It looked as if the Clippers, and Paul George in particular, just ran out of gas down the stretch. George finished with 27 points, but shot just 28% from the field. He gave the Clippers the lead at one point during the second half, but was unable to get some crucial shots to fall in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers got yet another great game from Eric Bledsoe in this contest, as he went for 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. While they ultimately lost the game, so much will change for the Clippers if this is the version of Eric Bledsoe that they are going to get.
When asked postgame what went wrong in this one, Bledsoe said that the Clippers just did not match Chicago's energy. Bledsoe stated that the Bulls came out with great energy, putting the Clippers in a hole, and LA was never able to recover. "I just feel like we ran out of gas... Games like this happen, just gotta bounce back from it," Bledsoe said.
After a dominant stretch of play during the seven-game winning streak, Reggie Jackson finally had an off-night. While he made a big three towards the end, Jackson shot just 4/17 from the field overall in this game, including just 3/11 from deep. Some of these shots were certainly ill-advised; however, Reggie has earned this green light with his track record of heroics.
After the game, head coach Ty Lue also alluded to fatigue, saying that "Our guys were tired, you could see that, and that was one me. Whatever, start a new win streak." Coach Lue said he played the guys too many minutes on the last half of a back-to-back, taking responsibility for the tired legs that were prevalent down the stretch.
The Clippers will look to start a new win streak on Tuesday when they take on the San Antonio Spurs.