The Los Angeles Clippers eliminated the reigning champions San Antonio Spurs last season in the first round playoffs of the Western Conference. The Clippers started their campaign on a positive note on Wednesday by edging past Sacramento Kings 111-104 at Sleep Train Arena.
The Kings, starting at home, tried to stage a comeback riding on a 19-3 run in the final quarter and leading 93-92 at one point. A Rudy Gay jumper put Sacramento in front.
Paul Pierce, on the first game of the season, proved that he could become a lethal weapon in the final quarter. His three-pointer and a follow-up jumper guided the Clippers to regain 102-100 lead with 2:21 minutes remaining. A late storm saw Los Angeles ending on a 11-4 run by blowing the Kings’ defense.
Blake Griffin had a 33 points. eight rebounds and four assists. Chris Paul had 18 points and 11 assists. Pierce and Jamal Crawford combined to add 23 points to the tally.
The Kings were led by DeMarcus Cousins who posted 32 points and 13 rebounds.
But the opener once more showed that Clippers’ hopes rest on Blake Griffin. Many experts pointed out that he was the most complete player of last season’s playoffs, where he averaged postseason career highs in points (25.5), field-goal percentage (51.1%), rebounds (12.7) and assists (6.1).