By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com

3/17/21 (26-15) Los Angeles Clippers vs (20-18) Dallas Mavericks

On the second half of a back-to-back contest with the Mavericks and the Clippers winning the initial matchup, the Clippers appeared to relax while the Mavericks were wanted to avenge their loss from just a couple of nights ago. It appeared the Clipper went to Dallas intent on getting a split, as they came into this game with very little energy and spirit in the game.

After winning the first quarter the Clippers were unable to hold on to their lead, as they went into the second half down by double digits. As Mavericks star guard Luka Doncic dropped 22 points on the Clippers, nearly outscoring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George himself in the first half of this match-up. Together George and Leonard scored 24 in that first half.

In Reggie Jackson’s 600th career game, he shot a dismal 2 for 8 from the field and totaled only one assist in this game. Already missing Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka, the Clippers bench chipped in a measly 11 points which lead to Head Coach Ty Lue stating “For the most part I thought we did a good job defensively other than Luka torched us,” Ty Lue also said. “I thought offensively we didn’t trust, we didn’t continue to share the basketball. We forced a lot of stuff all night.”

Luka had 31 points after 3 quarters which gave the Mavericks a six-point lead going into the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter he scored an additional 11 points giving him 42 for the game prompting Kawhi to say this post-game, “He got comfortable and he made shots,” Leonard said of Doncic, who also had six rebounds and nine assists. “It’s hard to turn off that water once a great player like that gets rolling.”

This was the Clippers’ tenth loss on the road, as well as their sixteenth loss of the season. Over the past 13 games, they now a record of 5-8 over. It’s also been that long since they’ve won back-to-back games. Needless to say, this is an ugly trend for a team that has championship aspirations.

3/20/21 (20-20) Charlotte Hornets vs (26-16) Los Angeles Clippers

In recent weeks these Clippers have been consistently inconsistent. Having not won two consecutive games since wins on back-to-back nights against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Valentine’s Day and the Miami Heat on February 15th. Since then, the Clippers have a record of 5 wins and 8 losses, including their only 3 games losing streak of the season.

With 30 games remaining in the season, I was interested in what Clippers Head Coach Ty Lue wanted to see from his team during this next stretch of games He said, he wanted to see “an improved defensive mindset.” He also pointed out that he “liked their mindset over the last 2 games against the Mavericks.”

The players hear Coach Ty Lue’s message loud and clear because they came out and jumped all over the Hornets. Not only did they hold the Hornets to 21 points in the first quarter, but they also put up 37 points in that same frame.

Paul George came out balling with a purpose today, 1as he recorded 18 points and 6 assists through the first half. This was George’s sixth career game with at least 20 points and 10 assists. Impressively, Paul George became the fourth player in franchise history and the first since Chris Paul (12/10/16 vs. NOP) to have at least 20 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds with zero turnovers.

As a team, the Clippers recorded zero turnovers in the third quarter against the Hornets. This was the third time this season that they had zero turnovers in a quarter. Just as impressive was the fact that this was the third time this season, and the 26th time in franchise history, that the Clippers were perfect from the free-throw line as they went 23 for 23 from the stripe.

The Clippers improved to 15-1 when they score at least 120 points. This was a total team effort as they had seven reach double figures tonight with Terance Mann scoring his season-high 16 points in this game.

3/22/21 (22-20) Atlanta Hawks vs (27-16) Los Angeles Clippers

This was a heavy day within the Clippers family with the passing of the legendary Elgin Baylor. Clippers Head Coach opened up his pre-game zoom meeting by acknowledging the loss of Elgin Baylor. He also recognized Baylor as a “great pioneer, a Hall of Famer, a gentleman who paved the way for black players like myself to play and black executives as well. So, I just want to send my thoughts out to his family and friends.”

The Atlanta Hawks roll into Staples Center with an 8-game winning streak. When asked about what’s been the difference in his tenure, former Seattle Supersonics and Hawks Head Coach Nate McMillan say “we’ve been doing a better job of finishing games; We are getting stops in the 4th quarter.” The Hawks come into this matchup sitting in the 4th seed on the Eastern Conference being led by Trae Young who is enjoying career highs in nearly every category Points (25.7), Rebounds (4.1), Assists (9.4), 3-point shooting percentage in addition to his free throw shooting percentage.

Understanding this Clippers Head Coach aptly stated in his Pre-Game Zoomer, “Trae Young is the head of the snake.” Right on queue Trae Young recorded 20 points and 3 assists in the first half of this game leading the Hawks to a 15-point lead over the Clippers at the intermission. Coming out of the half, the Hawks continued their onslaught forcing Clippers HC to call a timeout right 30 seconds into the 3rd quarter.

It was in that 3rd quarter that the Clippers’ second team would battle back to make this a competition. The combination of Terance Mann, who’s in his second year, and Luke Kennard, who’s in his 4th year, would be the catalyst to lead the Clippers back into contention in this game. The Mann/ Kennard duo would combine for 37 points in the second half of this game to lead the comeback back.

Terance Mann scored 11 points in the fourth quarter which is the most points he scored in a single quarter in his career. He also followed up one career scoring night with another season-high 21 points. All the while recording his second career double-double, point, and rebounds. Like the team player he has proven to be, Terance Mann said post-game about their play, “I was proud of everybody’s effort to turn the game around!”

Luke Kennard had an amazing career-high + 30 tonight +/- He also became the first player in franchise history to have at least 20 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in under 20 minutes. Only the league’s MVP (Giannis Antetokounmpo on 11/30/19 vs. Charlotte) was the last player to achieve the feat. Additionally, Kennard, who hasn’t seen much playing time recently, joins Jerry Lucas (12/11/71

vs. POR) by becoming one of two players, in the Shot Clock Era (1954), to have at least 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists while shooting 100% from the field in under 20 minutes of play.

Once the lead was narrowed, Kawhi Leonard and Paul were sent back into the game. Kawhi would come into the game and secure the win by knocking down a couple of huge three-point buckets. This would give the Clippers consecutive wins for the first time in over a month.

With the trade deadline coming up quickly it will be interesting to see what additions, if any they make to this roster. I’ve been a firm believer they need a pass first point guard to aid Kawhi and Paul George easier buckets late in games. Kindly share your thoughts on what moves they should make and let me know what you think their ceiling is if they choose not to make any roster changes. 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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