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FutureStarrNicolas Batum Hits 8 3-Pointers As Clippers Beat Bulls 124-112 on Monday
Nicolas Batum hit 8 3-pointers, a season high, to help the Los Angeles Clippers defeat the Chicago Bulls 124-112 on Monday night. Eric Gordon added 22 points as Los Angeles (40-36) held onto fifth place in the Western Conference standings.
The Clippers improved to 2-1 without Paul George, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season due to a knee injury. But they have proven they can still compete without their stars when necessary.
On Monday night, Batum hit a season-high 8 3-pointers to lead the Clippers to an impressive 124-112 win over the Bulls. His performance was one of the main reasons why Los Angeles won their second straight game and improved to 2-1 without star forward Paul George who is expected to miss the remainder of this season with a sprained knee.
Batum not only hit all eight of his 3-pointers, but he also dished out a team-high 10 assists and shot 68% from the field, up from his previous season's 72% average.
The Frenchman was a major factor in the first quarter and kept up the pressure with his outside shooting throughout the game. He made four of his first six 3s, including an eight-pointer with 2:25 remaining in the third that helped Los Angeles take a commanding double-digit lead.
He upped his game when the Clippers upped the ante in transition and pulled away to build a 22-point lead. In total, he scored 24 points while hitting 8 of 15 shots from long range and helping Jawhi Leonard make his eighth 3-pointer.
After a slow start, the Clippers took off in the second quarter and never looked back. They shot an incredible 60% from the field during that period and outscored the Bulls 48-26 at halftime, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
With George out, the Clippers had no choice but to rely on their veterans for success. But Batum and Gordon each contributed with impressive performances to lift Los Angeles (40-36) to their fifth win in six games.
Even without George, the Clippers remain in contention to secure a playoff spot. At present, they're in fifth place in the Western Conference standings, just half a game behind Phoenix but one ahead of seventh-place Portland and eighth-place Oklahoma City.
But the Clippers need more from their starters if they want to make a run at the top of the Western Conference. Batum and Gordon, along with veteran guards DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams, will continue to be key components in that pursuit.
Batum and Gordon must both produce more to give the Clippers a chance at a deep playoff run, but they have both shown enough this season to get the job done. Not only are they adept at playing off the ball, but they are also capable of contributing on defense as well.
Nicolas Batum hit 8 3-pointers to lead the Clippers past the Bulls 124-112 on Monday night, giving him a team-high 23 points that helped the Clippers claim their second straight victory.
Batum scored eight of his points in the first half, setting a career high. Additionally, he hit four of his five 3-point attempts during that span and is now hitting 53% of his threes and 45% of his two-point shots.
Gordon also contributed on the defensive end, making a key block and intercepting a pass in the second quarter. Furthermore, he drew a foul on Zach LaVine's shot attempt that would have given the Clippers an eight-point advantage.
He then hit a clutch 3-pointer early in the fourth that extended their lead to 18 points and ensured they held off the Bulls.
Despite a poor shooting performance, the Clippers held the Bulls to just 40 points in the first three quarters and never let them get ahead by more than five. They built a 10-point lead before Nikola Vucevic hit two 3-pointers to bring Chicago within 62-55.
The Clippers outscored the Bulls 58-47 in the final two periods to take control of a game they had been leading by double digits for just the second time since December 28. Now 5-2 away from home, they look to secure another victory soon enough.
But the Clippers remain only half a game behind Phoenix for the Western Conference's fifth seed and must make significant improvements on their road trip, which begins Wednesday against Memphis and concludes in New Orleans on Thursday.
One thing is certain: the Clippers must become more efficient than they are currently. Their last six games have seen them average 111.5 points per 100 possessions, which is a season low.
For the Clippers to remain one of the best teams in the West, they need to achieve success over their final 22 games. There is still much work left for them to do.
On Tuesday night, Los Angeles Clippers guard Nicolas Batum hit a season-high 8 3-pointers as his team pulled away from Chicago Bulls 124-112 in what felt like a reunion for Batum after spending four seasons with Los Angeles before being traded to Boston Celtics last season.
Batum's quick connection with the Clippers' starters was an encouraging sign. He joined Eric Gordon and Lou Williams in the starting lineup, their contributions helping them jump out to a commanding 11-point lead early in the second half. Morris had only hit five 3-pointers in his previous seven games; Batum's contributions, combined with Gordon's 16 first-half points mostly against LaVine's defense, gave them both a great boost going into this crucial matchup.
Batum said the victory moved the Clippers to 2-1 without star Paul George, who is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season and start of playoffs due to a sprained right knee. To prepare for life without George until his return, Batum said the team needs to find a way of playing without him until his return.
Victor Wembanyama has been a major factor in the Clippers' success this season, averaging 18.3 points and 14.6 rebounds per game. With such an impressive stat line, teams around the NBA are eager to draft him in next year's draft.
After a slow start, the Clippers began to get more organized and play at a faster pace in the second half. They sprinted the ball, scored in transition, and built an early 22-point lead during the third quarter. Overall, they shot 65% from the field (including 59% on three-pointers) with 25 assists against seven turnovers.
Batum has been an outstanding defender for the Clippers this season, and his shot-blocking prowess has played a major role in limiting opponents' shots. His defensive prowess will continue to be tested throughout this season as well.
Batum plays an integral role in the Clippers' offense, and his performance against the Bulls showed he still has something to offer. After being awarded a massive 5-year $120 million contract by Charlotte Hornets in 2016, he appeared to be headed out of the league, but his performance against the Bulls demonstrated that he is still capable of playing at an elite level.
Batum got the start in place of Marcus Morris and delivered a remarkable performance from beyond the arc, scoring 24 points on eight 3-pointers to help the Clippers defeat the Bulls 124-112 on Monday night. It was his best game since joining Eric Gordon at 22 points for Los Angeles in last month's trade.
The Clippers (40-36) remain in fifth place in the Western Conference standings, one half game behind fourth-place Phoenix. Furthermore, they won their second straight game without All-Star forward Paul George who is expected to miss the remainder of the season due to a sprained knee.
Leonard, who had struggled to escape the Bulls' double teams this season, scored 22 points, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out six assists. His two key defensive plays in the first quarter helped keep Los Angeles in a 14-point lead. With 2:25 remaining, Leonard tipped in another 3-pointer for his eighth of the night.
Williams hit 8 3-pointers for the second time this season as the Clippers posted their 10th win in 11 games. He made all of his shots in the first half and finished with 22 points on 10 of 17 shooting, including 6 of 13 from beyond the arc.
He hit 9 of 15 free throws in the third quarter, helping the Clippers maintain a commanding lead. Additionally, he hit 13 of 14 free throws to set a new season high for made foul shots.
The Bulls (29-58) dropped their third consecutive game and missed an opportunity to move into eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Zach LaVine scored 23 points while Nikola Vucevic added 20 as Chicago bounced back from its impressive win against Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, but couldn't find a way to cap off their home stand with victory.
In the second half, the Bulls struggled to find their rhythm, missing eight of their last nine field-goal attempts and hitting just 1 of 8 from long range. But they were able to overcome those issues by keeping the ball moving and creating open looks from inside. Plus, Patrick Beverley contributed with some big dunks during crucial minutes in the fourth quarter.