In a serious battle between two potential playoff teams, the Los Angeles Clippers beat the New York Knicks 102-88 Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Led by All-Star point guard Chris Paul, the Clippers held off Carmelo Anthony and the surging New York Knicks to get back on the right track and start regaining the confidence and skill that their team was playing with earlier in the season.
The matchup between the starting units was even throughout the game—both sides had great runs that made the score close several times—but it was the Clippers' bench presence that made them the superior team Sunday.
Both Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe had amazing games, scoring 27 and 13 points, respectively, and helped the Clippers outscore New York’s bench by 33 points. (The Clippers had 48 bench points and the Knicks had 15.)
As it tends to be in the NBA, the bench scoring was the difference in Sunday’s matchup, and coupled with the success of Chris Paul and the starting rotation, Los Angeles put together an excellent win.
The Knicks received a great game from Anthony (42 points and eight rebounds), but he got little help from his supporting cast and had to carry the team.
If any of the Knicks' talented stars had stepped up Sunday, then New York likely would have won the game.
For New York to become as successful as the Clippers were on Sunday, it must start getting better contributions from its bench players and starters not named Carmelo Anthony.
Player of the Game: Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul was back in the lineup for the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday against the New York Knicks, and he helped lead the Clippers to a dominant win over a fellow playoff-bound team.
This victory will be a great momentum booster for both Paul and the team.
Paul had 25 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals to prove that he is almost back to 100 percent on the floor. If he can stay healthy through the remainder of the regular season and in the playoffs, Los Angeles will be tough to beat in the Western Conference.
Up Next for the Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers were heralded as one of the best teams in the Western Conference at the start of the regular season, but eight losses in their last 11 contests coming into Sunday’s game is far from elite.
With Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups and Jamal Crawford all returning to the lineup from injuries this week, the Clippers should start playing well once again down the final stretch of the season.
Up Next for the New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are still one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, but the team isn’t regarded as a major powerhouse like it was earlier in the season; it’s clear Miami is the cream of the crop in that conference.
New York had won five of its last six matchups before Sunday's game, but with several tough teams left on the schedule for February—the Indiana Pacers and the Golden State Warriors, to name just two—the Knicks must play well through the remainder of this month.