By the Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — A day after a 26-point loss to Memphis in another matinee, the Clippers had a least three players score at least 30 points for the first time in franchise history.
Montrezl Harrell scored 34 points off the bench, reserve Lou Williams scored 32 to match starter Paul George, and Los Angeles beat the New York Knicks 135-132 on Sunday.
It was the first time in the Clippers’ history that three players scored at least 30 points. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time two players have scored 30 points off the bench in a regulation NBA game since the 1970-71 season.
“Montrezl and Lou were fantastic. History is good. Someone has to make it,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
Harrell didn’t say much after tying a career high and producing the seventh 30-point game of his four-year career.
One day after saying the Clippers were “not a great team” following the embarrassment by Memphis, Harrell walked past reporters with a smile on his face and said, “You all have a good Sunday.”
George, who missed Saturday’s game with left hamstring tightness, said it was important to not come out flat two afternoons in a row.
“We saw Lou and Montrezl lead the way. Watching that from the bench, it got us motivated. We knew the job we had to do,” said George, who posted his seventh 30-point game this season. He was 9 of 14 from the field, including 5 of 6 on 3-pointers, in 32 minutes.
Both teams shot 54% or more from the floor in a game that will not go down as a defensive masterpiece.
Los Angeles was up by 15 late in the third quarter and 121-110 with 7:06 remaining in the game when George fouled out. New York scored eight straight points to draw within three and was still within one possession in the final minute when Williams drove the lane and hit a floating jumper with 18.5 seconds left to make it 133-128.
Marcus Morris — who led New York with a career-high 38 points — hit a jumper with 10.4 seconds left to get the Knicks back within three, but Williams put it out reach after a timeout with a pair of free throws.
“You can win games with bad offense and good defense,” Rivers said. “Tonight people can say either the offense was phenomenal or both teams struggled defensively. The players will say one thing but the coaches will say the other.”
Rivers might be surprised that George agreed with him.
“We still allowed too many points and have to get better,” George said. “It’s an area we have to improve, but our offense got us over the hump today.”
RJ Barrett added 24 points for New York and Julius Randle had 16 points and eight rebounds.
“At end of the day, we wanted to win but took a positive step in our competition level,” Morris said. “For us to be in the game against one of the top teams in the league and have a big lead says a lot.”
Los Angeles trailed by 16 at the end of the first quarter but put up a 47-point second quarter to lead 76-69 at halftime. That was the most points scored in the second period of an NBA game this season and tied for the fourth most in any quarter.
Williams led the way with 18 points in the period, including three straight 3-pointers that tied it at 51 with 7:16 remaining. Harrell had 14 points in the quarter, including 10 of the Clippers’ first 13 points during the run.
The Knicks went on a 24-8 run in the first quarter to lead 33-19. New York, which came in making 10.7 3-pointers per game, made four during its spurt while Randle scored seven points.
The Knicks extended their lead to 45-29 at the end of the quarter as they went 19 of 29 from the field. The output was tied for the third-most points scored in the first 12 minutes of an NBA game this season and marked the first time the Knicks have scored at least 44 points and shot over 70% from the field in the first in nearly 11 years. The last time it happened was also against the Clippers, on March 25, 2009.
“It was one of the wilder games that I have been a part of,” Knicks coach Mike Miller said. “We put together a big first quarter and then it flipped. But we showed grit to stay in the game and put ourselves in position at the end.”