Clippers give Rivers 900th victory
LOS ANGELES—The Clippers were kings of the fourth quarter. Portland star Damian Lillard lost his crown, at least for a night, anyway.
Lou Williams made a go-ahead jumper with 58 seconds left, then added a three-pointer and finished with 26 points to lift Los Angeles over the Trail Blazers, 107-101, on Thursday for coach Doc Rivers’ 900th career victory.
“Doc never stops going and grinding,” Kawhi Leonard said. “He never gets bored.”
Lillard and CJ McCollum led Portland with 22 points apiece, but surprisingly both got blanked in the fourth quarter. That’s usually Lillard’s time to shine, but the Clippers’ defense wasn’t having it.
In Charlotte, as he peered up at the videoboard suspended above the court, Kemba Walker broke into a wide smile and tears trickled down his cheeks.
The Hornets honored their all-time leading scorer with a highlight video, giving the Boston Celtics point guard a hero’s welcome in his return to Charlotte.
As the tribute ended, the crowd erupted with a loud, one-minute standing ovation.
“It was special,” Walker said. “Just to be back here and the amount of love I have been getting today and leading up to this day. The video just topped it off. It made me really emotional. I was trying to hold it in, but I couldn’t. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to.”
Jayson Tatum scored 23 points, and Walker got what he ultimately wanted—a victory—in his homecoming game as the Celtics soundly defeated the Charlotte Hornets, 108-87.
It was an underwhelming performance by Walker’s standards.
The three-time All-Star who once scored 60 points on this court was held to 14 on 4-of-12 shooting, and didn’t make his first field goal until three minutes into the third quarter.
Walker said the video didn’t impact his play on the court, but coach Brad Stevens believed it contributed.
“Yeah, it’s really hard,” Stevens said. “He had the right idea coming into the game but you knew right after they played that video, that probably was going to be a tough start. That was really cool and a great tribute by the Hornets. I know how much he appreciated it.”
Walker played eight seasons in Charlotte before signing with the Celtics after Hornets owner Michael Jordan elected not to give Walker a five-year, $221-million supermax contract. –AP
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