By Cameron Buford, Whatsgoodinsports.com

2/17/21 vs (23-5) Utah Jazz vs (21-8) Los Angeles Clippers 

The Utah Jazz comes into Staples with the best record in the season so far this season, minus their assist leader Mike Conley. The Clippers will also be missing a few of their key players in Kawhi Leonard (Left Lower Leg Contusion), Paul George (Bone Edema Right Toe), and Nic Batum (Concussion), this should be a great test for the remainder of the team. If they have Championship aspirations; they need to be able to beat a team like this at home! 

Each of these teams will be missing their leading scorer from their initial matchup when Mike Conley scored 33 points for the Jazz and Paul George scored 25 points for the Clippers. This game will be won in the paint as the Clippers are averaging right at 44 rebounds per game and Utah averages 48.5 rebounds per game. The Clippers are 8-4 when their opponents pull down more rebounds than them, where the Utah Jazz are 6-2 when they are outrebounded by their opponents. 

After O’’Neale hits a three-pointer for the Jazz, Patrick Beverley out scores the Jazz on his own. Scoring a drive to the hoop over Gobert, then ripping Mitchell and taking that in for his third and fourth points of the game. That fight and energy last throughout the first half for the Clippers as they took a 51-46 lead into the half. They even had the advantage on boards at 22 to 29 in addition to shooting better from the field and behind the arc at 48.8% and 55.6% respectively. 

That all ended in the third quarter, as the Jazz scored 35 points in the third quarter. They also dominated that quarter on the boards with 13 to 7 and doubled the Clippers up on assist 8 to 4. The Jazz went on to win the game going away, largely because the Clippers had trouble scoring, with their best players looking on from the sidelines. 

As the league’s top team, the Utah Jazz has had no such problem. They have five players shooting 38% or more from the three-point range. Additionally, they have now won 19 of their last 20 games and 17 of those wins have come by double-digits. They are not only getting fat on the worse teams; they are now 11-3 vs team over .500 this season after beating the Clippers on Wednesday evening. 

After the game I pointed out to Ty Lue, Clippers HC, that this was their 4th game with under double-digit three pointers made and what he attributed to this to he simply said laughing, “Not making enough shots made.” 

2/19/21 vs (24-5) Utah Jazz vs (21-9) Los Angeles Clippers 

In this back-to-back, prime-time matchup on National TV, the Jazz and the Clippers both will have a full roster in this game. Paul George comes off his seven-game lay off and Mike Conley returns to the court after a six-game layoff. Kawhi Leonard also returns to play this evening after missing the last three games. 

In the first few minutes of this game, the defensive prowess of the Clippers with a complete roster is evident. Just as the individual scoring ability of All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is apparent as the Clippers take an early 14-9 lead midway through the first quarter. Mike Conley hit the Clippers for 7 quick points, while Kawhi Leonard and Paul George scored 4 and 5 points respectively. 

Both teams exchanged blows in the second quarter, Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic paced the Jazz in the quarter with 11 points and 15 points respectively. The Jazz did shoot 45.5 % from the floor. Though the Clippers shot 51% in the quarter lead by Lou Williams 15 points and supported by Kawhi’s 12 in that first half. 

It was an 8-point game coming out of the halftime break and the meant go time for Kawhi. Having scored just 12 points in that first half, he scored 12 points in that quarter alone. This was Kawhi Leonard’s 12th straight game with at least 20 points, which is tied for the third-longest such streak in his career. 

Jordan Clarkson, the sixth man of the year contender, apparently has a fluorescent green light as he shot 9-17 for 19 points in the game for the Jazz, though he shot only 1-7 from behind the Arc. Donovan Mitchell turned it on a bit late in the game by scoring 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Jazz in striking distance. 

The Jazz was 0-9 when guarded by Paul George or Patrick Beverley early in the game. They are also the best 3rd quarter team in the NBA though they took the lead by 4 momentarily in that quarter, the Clippers held their top three-point 

shooters Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, and Bojan Bogdanovic to 6-22 form behind the Arc in this game. 

On the flip side not only are the Clippers 16-3 when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George suit up, but they are also 22-5 when they hit at least 10 three-point shots as they did tonight. After a frantic close to the game, the Clippers pull it out and won their fifth out of the last six games, to improve to 22- 9 on the season. Head Coach Ty Lue was asked about their issues closing this game out, “Yeah that was stupid.” 

2/19/21 vs (19-12) Brooklyn Nets vs (22-9) Los Angeles Clippers 

When the Clippers welcome in the Brooklyn Nets, NBA fans will get to see the top 3-point shooting teams in the league. Both teams are shooting above the 40% mark, the Clippers are shooting 41.9% from deep as the Nets are shooting at a 40.0% clip. This game will also boast the league’s best 3-point shooters in the Nets Joe Harris and the Clippers Marcus Morris, each shooting 50.7% and 50.5% respectively. 

The games will also feature 5 of this season’s NBA All-Stars, 4 NBA Champions, and 2 former league MVPs. The only thing missing is that Kevin Durant, who will miss his fourth game due to a strained left hamstring. It was the Clippers’ 5th game of a 6th game road trip a four-point game the last time these two teams matched up with 244 points scored, in that game. 

After allowing the Clippers to jump out to an early lead, the Nets roared back behind the shooting of their NBA All-Stars James Harden 13 points and Kyrie Irving 12 points. Kawhi Leonard lead the Clippers to a strong finish in that first quarter by shooting 5-9 from the floor with 14 points, giving the Clippers a 30-28 lead. 

The Nets responded by winning the second quarter 30-21… assisted by the Clippers 12 turnovers. James led all scorers going into the half with 21 points in addition to his 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Paul George’s 13 points complimented Kawhi’s 18 points though they were dominated in points in the paint by the Nets 32-14 in that first half. 

The Nets followed up the second quarter by winning the third quarter as well. They extended their lead on Kyrie’s 12 points in the quarter along with Bruce Brown’s 6 points and 3 timely rebounds in the quarter. Paul George tried his best to keep the Clippers with his 21 points in the second half, though his minute’s restrictions limited his availability in the second half. When asked about his minute’s restriction and was able to play through it he said, “I think you know the answer to that…; I was ready, I was ready to go!” 

This was Kawhi Leonard’s 13th straight game with at least 20 points which is the fourth-longest active streak in the NBA. Paul George is the fourth player in franchise history and the first since Lou Williams (2/13/20 at Boston) with at least 34 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and two blocked shots. However, all guys not named Kawhi Leonard or Paul George scored 45 points tonight for the Clippers, this was their lowest output of the season. 

In this game James Harden recorded his 77th 35-point double-double, the Nets have now beaten western conference teams 8 consecutive times. While the Clippers had only 3 guys over 13 points, the Nets had 5 players score 13 or more points. The Nets also capitalized on 17 Clippers turnovers to score 27 points which helped to decide this game. 

2/17/21 vs (13-17) Washington Wizards vs (22-10) Los Angeles Clippers 

The Clippers will face the Washington Wizards for the first time this season. The Wizards come into this game on a five-game win streak, led by 2021 NBA All-Star Starter Bradley Beal’s league-leading 32.9 points per game. The Clippers are ranked 15th in the league in rebounding at 44.3 per game, they will need to increase this total to ensure a win versus the Wizards, as the Wizards are 1-11 when giving up more than 45 rebounds per game. 

Kawhi Leonard and his 26.9 points per game. 4.9 assists per game and his 6.1 rebounds were announced to the 2021 NBA All-Star starting team last week. This week Paul George, and his 24.4 points per game, 5.5 assists per game, and 6.2 rebounds per game, was announced as a 2021 NBA All-Star reserve team. As in years past, the Teams Captains, LeBron James and Kevin Durant will select their teams’ playground style. 

As for the Wizards taking on the Clippers here at Staples, the Clippers are 11-6 defending their home court, while the Wizards are 6-8 on the road. As the Beal leads the league in scoring, Russell Westbrook is averaging 19.9 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game, and 9.7 assists per game for the Wizards this season. In 9.7 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game this season. In this game, Russell and Patrick Beverley will get to rekindle their love-hate relationship, which has been mostly hate, for some years now. 

Patrick Beverley penetrates, kicked the ball to an open Nic Batum, who quickly passed to a more open Paul George who knocked down his first three-pointer of the game off the great ball movement from the Clippers which put them up by 9-2. George’s eyes light up when he saw Garrison Mathews guarding him and crossed him up and took him right to the hoop to give the Clippers an 11-5 lead. 

The Clippers start rolling from there outscoring the Wizards in the 72- 55 in that first half. The Clippers pulled down 30 rebounds in that first half; this is the third game they reached that total in either half. Against the Wizards was the eighth time this season in which the Clippers have scored, at least, 70 points in a half. 

Their early efficient start, led to them scoring 130 points for the third time this season. This is the 13th time this season the Clippers have shot better than 50% from the floor. Additionally this is the 6th time this season they have shot better than 50% from the field and 3-point range in the same game; they are 6-0 when achieving this feat. 

After giving up the 39 points to the Wizards in the 3rd quarter it was the Clippers bench that extended the Clippers lead by outscoring the Wizards bench 20-2 to start the 4th quarter. They scored 58 points in this game led by Ivica Zubac’s and his sixth double-double of this season. Which ties him for second-most in the NBA. 

Reserve Guard Reggie Jackson talks about the bench production in his post-game press conference when asked. Jackson said, “It feels good, I think starting to find some continuity and some flow… I think we did it collectively; I think Paul and Kawhi did a good job of taking on the blitz and then getting the ball to our bigs.” 

The Clippers finished this recent home stand with a 4-2 record. In both cases, they lost to the first and second teams in the Western and Eastern conferences. They 

also rebounded to beat the best team in the West and was a controversial call away from beating, who smart people expect to be, the future Eastern Conference Champions. This Clippers team has been playing efficient basketball all season and the atmosphere that Coach Ty Lue has created seems to have these guys playing relaxed and pressure-free for now. 

I am eager to hear how you see the past week with the Clippers, kindly share your thoughts on what’s stood out to you and let me know what you think their ceiling is. You can reach out to me on Twitter @whatsgoodnsport or forward any suggestions on what additional topics or angles you’d like to see discussed to info@whatsgoodinsports.com. 

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