LOS ANGELES (AP) — The third quarter has been a problem for the Los Angeles Clippers since the All-Star break.
Doc Rivers loved how they handled that period this time, even though he was gone by the end of it.
The Clippers trailed the Chicago Bulls by six at halftime but had their highest-scoring output in a quarter this season as they rallied for a 128-121 victory on Friday night. Los Angeles scored 45 points in the third, when Rivers and Chicago coach Jim Boylen were ejected for arguing .
“I like the way we responded,” Rivers said. “We didn’t play well in the first half but we were terrific in the third. That starting group really set the tone which was great.”
The Clippers trailed 63-57 at halftime, but took control in the third to go up 102-84 going into the fourth. Los Angeles shot 40.8 percent from the field in the first half but was 16 of 24 in the third quarter and 5 of 8 on 3-pointers. The Clippers also had six steals and forced seven turnovers.
It was only the fourth time in 11 games since the All-Star break that the Clippers have outscored an opponent in the third. They came into the game averaging only 26.9 points and allowing 31.6.
Danilo Gallinari scored 12 of his 27 points in the quarter and Landry Shamet made three 3s. Los Angeles opened the quarter with a 19-4 run and the lead reached 18 shortly before Rivers and Boylen were kicked out when they began arguing with 1:10 remaining after Boylen felt Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell was too aggressive on an offensive foul.
Referee Jason Phillips said in a pool report that both coaches were assessed a technical for arguing and received a second for continuing.
Harrell added 26 points and Lou Williams 18 for the Clippers, who have won six of their last seven games and nine of their last 12.
“The energy on defense wasn’t there in the first half, so we picked it up on that end in the second half. That carry-over showed,” Shamet said. “We were better offensively, shared the ball more, and got out on transition more. It started on the defensive end.”
Zach LaVine led Chicago with 31 points and Robin Lopez added 22. The Bulls have dropped four straight.
“We just got a little sloppy and careless in the third quarter. We played 24-26 minutes of real good basketball and we have to play 48,” Boylen said.
The first half was a see-saw affair as it was tied 10 times and there were 22 lead changes. Chicago led by as many as seven late in the first quarter as LaVine and Lopez each scored 10 points.
Los Angeles trailed 35-31 early in the second quarter before scoring eight straight points to take its largest lead of the half. Chicago rallied to take a six-point lead at halftime.
Bulls: LaVine had his 46th game scoring 20 or more points this season. It is the fifth-highest single-season total by a Chicago player in the last 20 years.
Clippers: Shamet scored nine points and was 3 of 6 on 3-pointers. He continues to lead NBA rookies in 3s made (140) and 3-point percentage (42.2 percent).
Bulls: Visit Sacramento on Sunday. The Kings have won the last three.
Clippers: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. The Clippers have won the last three.
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