With the 2015-16 season in the books for the Los Angeles Clippers, we’re counting down Paul Pierce’s five best games of the season. At No. 3, we’ll look at a game in which Paul pushed the shorthanded Clippers to a 102-99 overtime win at the Utah Jazz on April 9, 2016. ICYMI: No. 4 on the 2015-16 list.
No. 3: Paul Pushes Shorthanded Clips to OT Win
Something about Salt Lake City brought out the best basketball in Paul Pierce this season.
Paul totaled 17 games with double-digit scoring in his first season with Los Angeles Clippers, and the two highest came on the road at the Utah Jazz.
No. 34 first dumped 20 points in a 109-104 win on December 26 before dropping 18 in a 102-99 overtime victory on April 9 at Vivent Smart Home Arena.
The latter was particular impressive, given that L.A. was without six players from its regular rotation. Paul got his 37th start of the season, as Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan all earned a night of rest, while Austin Rivers (ankle) and Wesley Johnson (foot) sat with injuries.
Despite the absence of so many important players, the Clippers weren’t discouraged.
“We could’ve just said, ‘You know what, we’ve got six guys out, let’s just get through this one and get home,’” Cole Aldrich said. “For us to come in here and just continue to fight the way we did shows character.”
Of the nine players the Clippers had active, five scored in double figures including Paul, who also added three steals and two assists.
Jamal Crawford led the way with 30 points, while Aldrich had 21 to go with 18 boards. Jeff Green came off the bench to score 18 points, including 10 in a critical fourth quarter and point guard Pablo Prigioni tallied 13 points along with a game-high seven assists.
“Last year we were pretty limited, and this year we’re almost too deep, if that’s possible,” coach Doc Rivers. “There’s going to be a good player or two that probably don’t play a lot in the playoffs.”
Paul came out ready to conquer. His swipe-and-score early in the first quarter set the tone, as Utah struggled to contain the ball, surrendering 25 points off 18 turnovers.
L.A. led by as many as 10 in the first, but power forward Trevor Booker knocked down a trey to close the quarter with Utah up 26-25.
Utah extended its lead to as many as 11 in the second stanza, but L.A. kept chipping away. The Truth drained a trey to get the Clips within seven, 48-41, before burying a midrange jumper to get them within five, 52-47, at halftime.
In the second half, Paul picked up right where he left off, hitting a triple less than a minute-and-a-half into the third quarter to trim the deficit to just two. Later in the frame, No. 34 buried another three to flip the game in the Clippers’ favor.
L.A. held onto the lead, taking a four-point edge into the final frame. The lead changed hands four times in the fourth before Aldrich’s layup locked the game at 94 to forced an extra period.
Overtime proved to be just as competitive, and with 0.2 seconds on the clock, Crawford pulled up for a triple in isolation to give the Clippers the lead for good as they left town with a hard-earned OT win.
The victory kept what would be a six-game winning streak alive, as the Clips rose to be one of the hottest teams in the league heading toward the postseason.