The Clippers are bound to win on the road this season, and they’ll probably even win again in Sacramento at some point. It just wasn’t going to happen Tuesday night—not while they put on the worst shooting performance in the NBA this season.
Ron Artest had 28 points and eight rebounds in the Kings’ 93-80 victory, their 14th consecutive win over their frustrated California rivals.
Mike Bibby had 19 points and 10 assists for the Kings, who kept the Clippers winless in six games on the road this season—and winless in their last 17 trips to Arco Arena since 1997. Brad Miller contributed 12 points, eight rebounds and strong defense in a reserve role in the Kings’ third straight victory and the Clippers’ fifth consecutive loss.
But the real story was the Clippers’ 30.6 percent shooting—worst in the league so far this season.
“We just shot so horribly that it hurt us,” said Corey Maggette, who was a perfect 0-for-9. “We just have to bring the groove back. We had good looks everywhere. The ball wouldn’t stay in.”
Elton Brand had 13 points and 18 rebounds but went 4-for-15, while Thomas went 4-for-18 and Quinton Ross was 1-of-7. The Clippers missed 18 of their final 19 shots, falling behind for good with just one field goal in the final 8:50.
“I think I did a poor job,” said Livingston, in his third NBA season straight out of high school. “I only had four assists. That’s my job as a point guard—to establish everybody else before I establish myself.”
Sacramento steadily increased its lead in the fourth quarter despite the first bad game of the season by leading scorer Kevin Martin, who had just two points. Los Angeles couldn’t score during a 4 1/2 -minute stretch in the fourth as Sacramento produced nine straight points, highlighted by Miller’s key 3-pointer.
“Our defense in the fourth quarter was phenomenal,” Kings coach Eric Musselman said. “When a team takes 18 more (shots) than you do, and you win a game by 13 (points), that’s a statistic that stands out at you.”
Sam Cassell was active but not in the lineup for the Clippers, sitting out for the first time this season after spraining his ankle in a loss at Denver on Sunday. Chris Kaman also missed his third straight game with a sprained ankle.
Even though the Clippers have become respectable in recent seasons, they’ve remained confoundingly inept at Arco Arena, where they haven’t won since Nov. 7, 1997.
The Kings’ home winning streak in the series is the fourth-longest active streak in the NBA, matching the Kings’ home streak against Memphis and trailing Sacramento’s 19-game streak against Denver. Earlier in the night, Denver’s 17-game home winning streak against Memphis was snapped.
“It’s one of those little streaks,” said Miller, who played 27 minutes as a reserve in his second game back after missing eight games with an injured left foot. “Some of us have been here for all but one game in it. When you do well against a team, you kind of take pride in keeping it going.”
Memphis and Toronto also won their first road games earlier in the night, leaving Washington and the Clippers as the NBA’s only winless road teams.
The Clippers scored 14 consecutive points in the third quarter to erase a 10-point deficit. Livingston matched his previous career high of 18 points on a layup late in the third, but the Kings took a 70-67 lead into the fourth on a last-second alley-oop layup by Martin—his only basket of the game.
“I’m going to watch this tape,” said Martin, who was averaging 24.9 points. “I’m sure I won’t make it all the way through, but I’ll learn from it.”
Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy is close to agreeing to a contract extension. “We’ve been talking, and the talks are seemingly positive, but I haven’t signed the deal yet, so there’s nothing more I can really say,” Dunleavy said. “Unless there’s a dramatic falloff, it looks like we’re going to get it done.” … Maggette went 6-for-7 at the free throw line. … Bibby didn’t make a turnover in 39 minutes. Neither did Mobley in 35 minutes.