Reporting from Sacramento — Shades of Derrick Rose.
Only this time it was last season's rookie of the year, Sacramento's Tyreke Evans, missing a final free throw against the Clippers, the ball glancing off the rim with 1.9 seconds remaining.
FOR THE RECORD:
Clippers caption: The caption with a photograph from the Clippers' victory over the Sacramento Kings in the Dec. 28 Sports section misidentified the Clippers player pictured, who had just grabbed a rebound while surrounded by Kings players. The Clippers player was Al-Farouq Aminu, not Willie Warren. —
Overtime, avoided. Just the way it was in the Clippers' last road game less than two weeks ago in Chicago and once again they were able to get out of town, escaping with a one-point victory.
This time, the Clippers held on against the Kings, winning, 100-99, Monday night at Arco Arena. It was their second win in two days, third straight road victory and third consecutive win against the Kings this season.
They were led by Eric Gordon's 31 points, which included a career-high six three-point baskets.
"We'll take any win. Just keep the vibe going," Gordon said. "We would lose this game earlier in the year, lack of playing tough and not getting baskets."
And now the Clippers have won five of their last six games since a second-half meltdown at Philadelphia on Dec. 15.
On Monday, the Kings didn't go away, cutting away at the Clippers' 13-point, second-quarter lead, and Evans was game high with 32 points. The Kings shot 50% from three-point range and the Clippers assisted them by committing 22 turnovers, nearly blowing a late nine-point lead.
"When you win games like that — would rather put it away than not have to go through drama at the end there," said the Clippers' Blake Griffin, who had his 19th consecutive double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds. "It seems to be the way we get it done.
"I'll take it. I'll take it."
Said Baron Davis, who had 11 points and nine assists: "Two unnecessary close wins. We've got to settle down in the last three minutes of the game. A lot of times we get so antsy and hyped up."
Drama, thy name is Clippers.
Ryan Gomes fouled Evans with 1.9 seconds left, from beyond the three-point arc, with the Clippers ahead, 100-97. Evans made the first two free throws and missed the third. (In Chicago, Rose made his first free throw and missed the second, which would have sent the game into overtime.)
"It's a tough call," Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We didn't want to give them a three pointer there. … We didn't execute it very well. We waited a little bit too long to foul, but we were fortunate at the end and we'll take it.
"Things have gone against us. It's good to get a bounce the right way."
Davis' defense on Evans and Griffin's ensuing dunk with 5.1 seconds remaining had given the Clippers a 100-97 lead.
But that was hardly the final act.
"I knew he [Evans] was going to try to get to the hole," Davis said. "I got my hand on the ball. I was looking for a jump ball. But he still managed to get it off. Ike [Diogu] blocked the shot and I slapped the ball away and got the steal. I knew nobody was back on defense. And I saw Blake streaking."
Diogu, a former King, was a major factor for the Clippers defensively. He had eight points and six rebounds.
"He was huge down the stretch," Griffin said. "I even heard him yelling and screaming out there. That was good for us. He did an unbelievable job. Not only on the offensive end but the defensive end as well.
"I think we've gotten better defensively. If you look at our defensive statistics over the last 10-12 games, it's like a completely different team. That's been a huge key."