ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — That advantage that’s supposed to favor the home team has only worked half the time for the Los Angeles Clippers since the beginning of February.
The Clippers split their 10 home games at Staples Center dating back to that day. Meanwhile, both the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, the teams the Clippers are chasing at the top of the Western Conference standings, remain perfect on their home floors.
Thursday night, though, J.J. Redick’s familiarity with al of the sweet spots on the Staples Center floor proved useful for a team sagging under the weight of a three-game losing streak. Redick’s buzzer-beating jumper from the right wing lifted the Clippers over the Portland Trail Blazers.
It was a nice way for Redick to finish off an otherwise average night for Redick and the Clippers, who improved to 23-12 this season at home.
The game-winner was Redick’s 11th shot attempt of the night; he made five and was just 1-for-3 from beyond the 3-point line. Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford kept them in the game, finishing with 25 points each as the Clippers had to rally from seven down in the fourth quarter to provide Redick the opportunity to seal the deal.
DIFFICULTY: For a player who has made a living off having a quick trigger coming off screens, Redick could have pulled this off with his eye closed. His delayed run off of DeAndre Jordan’s screen gave Redick the crease he needed with C.J. McCollum chasing him. Paul’s perfect pass gave Redick the opportunity to go into his motion as always and lift the ball over McCollum’s hand with plenty of space to spare.
GAME SITUATION: As well as Paul and Crawford played, give Doc Rivers credit for calling Redick’s number with the game on the line with just 1.1 seconds to play. Crawford tied the game at 94-94 with a deep 3-pointer and was in the corner on the final play. But he didn’t have the room he would have needed to turn and get off a clean shot. Doc played the percentages and made sure the ball went to the player with the third-most clutch points in the league this season.
CELEBRATION: Redick reacted like a man who has taken and made these shots all his life. The purest shooters always have confidence in their stroke, which would explain Redick turning to the crowd and raising his index finger to the rafters. Paul and Crawford reacted like they’d hit the shot themselves. Paul turned to the fans sitting court side while Crawford ran up the floor and pointed at the Clippers’ bench, giving the coaching staff their due for dialing up the right play.
GRADE: For a team in desperate need of some good vibrations, Redick’s shot provided that lift. It also softens the blow for Redick, whose March Madness bracket went up in smoke with his beloved Duke Blue Devils going down in the Sweet Sixteen to the Oregon Ducks just 31 miles down the road at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Let’s give this a solid three Horrys.