By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
3/4/21 (24-13) Los Angeles Clippers vs (17-17) Washington Wizards
For only the second time all season the Los Angeles Clippers came into a game with two consecutive losses. Having lost to the Milwaukee Bucks by 5 points on Sunday then a couple of days later they lost to the Boston Celtics by 5 points… both of these losses came similarly. At least All-Stars Kawhi and Paul George agree as to the reasons for these recent challenges down the stretch of these games. Against the Bucks, Kawhi told us, “I thought we came down too slow. As a team, I don’t feel like we’re there yet. We’re looking to the sideline a lot for plays. I feel like our pace has pretty much slowed down.” Paul George told us after their loss to the Celtics, “We need to do a better job pushing the pace and pushing the tempo. We got to do a better job playing faster, but that’s on me.”
Understanding their issues is one thing, correcting their issues is a much different thing altogether. Although they would be without Marcus Morris Sr., due to a concussion, and Paul George who was a late scratch in this due to dizziness. The Clippers would have issues closing out their third consecutive game and final game before the NBA All-Star break.
In a game that saw nine ties and nineteen leads changes, Clippers Head Coach Ty Lue felt “We had 19 turnovers which gave then 27 points, you just can’t do that; when you’re down two key guys… Closing the second quarter was the biggest thing for me.” The Clippers outscored the Wizard 39-29 in that quarter though faltered late as coached mentioned.
Although 7 of the 9 players that played in this game scored in double figures, only Kawhi scored over 20 points. While the NBA’s scoring leader and 3-time All-Star Bradley Beal dropped 33 points and Russell Westbrook pitched in 27 points along with a key rebound down the stretch of the game, to secure the win for the Wizards.
As part of the NBA’s 71st All-Star Game this weekend in Atlanta, where they have the leading All-Star vote-getters select their teams 5 times All-Star Kawhi Leonard and 7 times All-Star Paul George will be on separate teams. Leonard is averaging
26.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game and will start for Team Durant, while Paul George 7 time All-Star who is averaging 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game will suit up for Team LeBron.
When asked, during his pre-game zoomer, if he agreed with the All-Star game being played, considering the current state of things in this country, Paul pulled no punches will said, “You have situations like we’re dealing with today; it’s an unfortunate time in the world; where our health and safety should be at the front of the helm. I personally didn’t agree with (playing) the game.”
Kawhi, was asked about his thoughts on the league’s promotion of Historically Black Colleges and Universities during the weekend, during his pre-game zoomer, “I think its dope that they made the jerseys off of those colleges. It’s great that the NBA is acknowledging those colleges (HBCUs). Growing up I didn’t know much about them; living in Cali all you hear about is USC and UCLA.”
In the second half of the season, the Clippers will have two three-game road trips and they will finish the season with a four-game road trip. After their initial road trip, the Clippers come home for one game before playing two games in San Antonio. They then will host a nine-game homestand, which should be plenty of the time to show the growth and continuity they’ve been working on all season, followed by a three-game road trip. Nationwide hoop fans will get to see their development as the Clippers will be on national television, 13 games over the next few months.
I am eager to see how they finish this half of their season, and how they begin to improve on closing their game out. Kindly share your thoughts on what’s stood out to you in the first half of the season and let me know how you expect them to finish their season. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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