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The Los Angeles Clippers notched their fifth straight win with a 134-109 victory over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night at Staples Center.
The Clippers lost to the Pelicans 132-127 when they visited New Orleans on Nov. 14. Paul George made his Clippers debut that night, but Kawhi Leonard was inactive (left knee injury management). Sunday marked the first time the two teams faced off with Leonard and George on the court together.
The final score reflected the All-Star duo’s impact. However, the Clippers bench was exceptional. Montrezl Harrell led all scorers with 34 points, and reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams poured in 19.
The Clippers improved to 12-5, leapfrogging the 11-6 Houston Rockets after their 137-123 loss to the Dallas Mavericks earlier in the day. They are third in the West Conference behind the 14-2 Los Angeles Lakers and 12-3 Denver Nuggets.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans dropped to 6-11—tied for 10th in the West with the San Antonio Spurs.
LAC F Kawhi Leonard: 26 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists
LAC F Paul George: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
LAC G Patrick Beverley: 10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks
LAC F Montrezl Harrell: 34 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks
LAC G Lou Williams: 19 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists
NO F Brandon Ingram: 24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block
NO G Jrue Holiday: 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
NO G JJ Redick: 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists
NO G E’Twaun Moore: 17 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block
NO G Lonzo Ball: 9 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal
Bench Production Makes Clippers Well-Rounded Title Contender
The Clippers were known for their depth before they landed George and Leonard over the summer.
Harrell and Williams played major roles in L.A.’s surprise run to the playoffs last season, and Williams became a back-to-back Sixth Man of the Year.
Against the Pelicans, Harrell tied his career high with 34 points on 13-of-18 shooting in 28 minutes off the bench. Williams has been a double-digit scorer in every game this season.
The Clippers bench outscored that of the Pelicans 72-46.
After the contest, Harrell spoke about the importance of L.A.’s depth:
The addition of George and Leonard made the Clippers championship contenders. That is inarguable. However, the consistency of Harrell and Williams will sustain their efforts throughout the long path to June.
The Clippers lead the NBA in bench minutes per game (22.2) and bench points per game (52.1).
To Harrell’s point, the Clippers have a difficult road stretch over the next few weeks, including the 13-3 Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 6 and 11-4 Toronto Raptors on Dec. 11.
The Clippers will travel to face the equally hot Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center, and the Pelicans will stay in L.A. to take on the Lakers on Wednesday night.