Clippers vs. Kings takeaways: Russell Westbrook debut comes in second-highest scoring game in NBA history
You may have missed it because it didn’t air nationally and didn’t end until close to 2 a.m. ET, but the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings were in one of the most spectacular and high-scoring league games ever. regular season Friday night. The competition was a battle between the current third and fourth seeds in the Western Conference, with Sacramento leading Los Angeles by two games early in the evening, and the teams certainly played like post-season position was on the line.
The Clippers held the lead for most of the regulation, and for a while it looked like they had it in their pocket. However, the upstart kings remained within reach until they made their move. They were able to return late, thanks in large part to De’Aaron Fox’s continued clutch play to force overtime. Five extra minutes wasn’t enough, however, as the Kings needed two overtimes to eventually pull off an impressive 176–175 victory… No, that’s not a typo. Yes, you read it correctly. It was the final score for what ended up being the second highest scoring game in NBA history.
Here are four takeaways from the game that’s buzzing the basketball world:
Westbrook makes his Clippers debut
Russell Westbrook made his debut with his new team on Friday night, and instead of giving the seasoned defender room to act to give him a chance to adjust to his new reality, the Clippers took the opposite approach and threw him straight into the fire. Westbrook started the game for Los Angeles and played 39 minutes. During this time, both his positive and negative sides as a player appeared. ‘
Russ was hard at work when the Clippers had a wild 2OT battle against the Kings in his debut 💪 pic.twitter.com/PJTuNxHM1x
— NBA (@NBA) February 25, 2023
First, the good: Westbrook increased the speed of the Clippers, and his ability to attack in the transition and bring down defenses opened up wide opportunities for shooters from Los Angeles. Westbrook finished the game with a game-high 14 assists, 17 points and five rebounds. He was also quite effective on the pitch, as he landed on seven of his 13 tries. But he also flipped the ball seven times and lost a defense a couple of times. If he can clear those areas, then Clippers fans have reason to be optimistic. Westbrook is far from the perfect player, but the Clippers could very well be a candidate for the former MVP.
The rise of Malik Monk
Kings backup quarterback Malik Monk ended the game of his career on Friday night. In 40 minutes of play off the bench, Monk scored a career-high 45 points, with 62 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from range. Monk’s scoring was especially impressive because most of it came in the fourth quarter and overtime periods. Monk lost 16 in the fourth, six in the first overtime and eight in the second overtime. Without his production, Sacramento won’t walk away with a win.
In addition to solid shots, Monk’s game was marked by a couple of impressive rim shots, including this two-handed jam he threw in an overtime transition:
WHAT A DUNK FROM MALIK MONAKA 😱pic.twitter.com/WCnZTC9fE5
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) February 25, 2023
This is the second time in Monk’s career that he has scored 40 points, as he scored 41 points against the Nuggets last April with the Lakers. The 45 points he scored against the Clippers on Friday night is the most points scored by a player off the bench this season.
Leonard ranks high with the Clippers
Kawhi Leonard didn’t have a career high on Friday night, but he scored more points than ever before in his Clippers uniform. He finished the competition with 44 points, one short of his personal best. He scored 45 points against the Jazz with the Raptors in 2019.
In 46 minutes against Sacramento, Leonard missed just six shots from the floor and added four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Leonard has been on the rise in recent weeks and this has definitely been his best game of the campaign so far. It didn’t lead to a win, but the Clips need to be confident in their future prospects, knowing that Leonard is still capable of putting on performances like this one. If they can go into the postseason at full strength, they will be a dangerous team that no one wants to see in the series.
Note: For StatMusethis is the first time that Leonard has lost a game in which he scored 40-plus points.
Fox continues to build a clutch campaign
De’Aaron Fox, a leading candidate for the first NBA Clutch Player of the Year award, is currently number one in the rankings. Clutch Ladder NBA.comand he backed up his cause with his play on Friday night.
The Kings were 11 points behind with 3 minutes left.
De’Aaron Fox scored or assisted on 13 of the Kings’ 17 final points to send him to overtime.
Clutch Player of the Year. pic.twitter.com/QBDOGSn9Vx
— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 25, 2023
Along with Monk, Fox played game after game throughout the game to hold the Kings and ultimately help them win. When Domantas Sabonis fouled on the sidelines, the Kings turned to Fox, and he scored, as he had all season. He finished the game with 42 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and five steals, and landed a shot that proved to be the winner:
De’Aaron Fox – Mr. 2OT 😱
Kings lead 176-175 with 0:35 to go!
📲 https://t.co/1pomQZMAZK pic.twitter.com/FYpqZpKIyK
— NBA (@NBA) February 25, 2023
Together, he and Monk made Kings history by becoming the first pair of teammates to score at least 40 points in the same game.