The LA Clippers demolished the Charlotte Hornets 125-98 with an offensive and defensive clinic that powered the home team to a lopsided win at the Staples Center. Paul George had a hot-shooting first half that carried his team to a 22-point half-time lead, and they never looked back from there.
It marked the Charlotte Hornets’ third straight loss and their second consecutive defeat at the hands of a Los Angeles team. With the Hornets losing 105-116 to the LA Lakers on Thursday, the visitors were looking to bounce back on the same home floor when they took on the LA Clippers.
However, the Charlotte Hornets' hopes were dashed to pieces by a well-oiled machine.
The LA Clippers clamped down on defense from the first minute of the game. They raced out to a 66-44 lead before the half-time buzzer, allowing the Charlotte Hornets to score just 44 points on 46 possessions.
The second half was more of the same, as the visiting team hardly made a run in the last two quarters. On that note, let's have a look at the game's five hits and flops.
Hit: Paul George (LA Clippers)
It was a sizzling performance by Paul George on Saturday, as he dissected the Charlotte Hornets defense all night.
He made five of his first six shots for 12 points while also dishing the rock for four assists early in the game. He had 18 points at the half, closing the second quarter with a 3-pointer from the wing.
Seemingly with an extra bounce in his step, the LA Clippers' All-Star forward was able to escape the Charlotte Hornets' Gordon Hayward and Cody Martin early and often. Whether it was shooting from the perimeter or driving to the hole, George found seams in the defense that allowed him to either get off his own shot or find an open teammate.
The 6' 8" forward tallied 21 points, ten assists and five rebounds in 33 minutes in what was a very efficient outing from the veteran swingman.
Flop: Terry Rozier (Charlotte Hornets)
For someone who averages more than 20 points per game, this was an off-night for Charlotte Hornets veteran Terry Rozier.
There was nothing to write home about Terry's performance against the LA Clippers, as he had a poor shooting night, making only two of ten field goals for the game.
Rozier lacked aggressiveness in driving to the basket, as nine of his ten shots came from beyond the arc.
Then again, the LA Clippers’ defense in the paint stifled almost every would-be penetrator for most of the game. With the Charlotte Hornets guard's outside shot abandoning him (42.5% from the three this season), Rozier played 26 inconsequential minutes.
Hit: Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers)
With his All-Star teammate hogging the spotlight, Kawhi Leonard quietly did the little things that counted in the win column.
The two-time Defensive Player of the Year was in the passing lanes and took away possessions from the Charlotte Hornets. He had a steal and a dunk early in the third quarter that showed his dominance in defense.
In offense, his 3-point shooting was off (0 for 4), but he made six of nine from everywhere else.
He asked for consistency from his teammates a few days ago. The five-time All-Star stayed true to his words by being a presence at both ends of the floor. The rest of the LA Clippers players followed suit, leading to their blowout win.
Kawhi Leonard finished the game with 17 points, three rebounds and four assists against the Charlotte Hornets. But it were his four steals that spoke about his true impact on the game.
Flop: LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets)
LaMelo Ball is one of the top two rookies this season, but he only showed flashes of his Rookie-of-the-Year potential against the LA Clippers.
Ball had his moments in the game, though. His speed and awareness on the court were apparent on more than a few occasions, but they were too few and far between.
During a couple of sequences in the second and third quarters, LaMelo Ball attacked the basket with the LA Clippers defense ready to swallow him. He also took an ill-advised shot that was off-target while falling to his side.
Averaging 19.8 points as a starter for the Charlotte Hornets per game this season, he was held to just 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting. The freshman registered only two assists in 22 minutes.
Hit: Lou Williams (LA Clippers)
Lou Williams showed his veteran smarts in the first half when he bamboozled not one but two Charlotte Hornets players into fouling him while shooting a three. The LA Clippers guard made all his six free throws.
Those two plays from Williams exemplified the major difference between the two teams. The LA Clippers were just smarter and controlled both offensively and defensively, while the Charlotte Hornets only had youthful exuberance and too much enthusiasm on the night.
The former Sixth Man of the Year shot a mere 4 of 11 from the field. But he scored 15 points and made his shots at the teeth of the opposing team’s defense, which helped his team maintain their lead.