By Cameron Buford

whatsgoodinsports.com

4/8/21 (36-14) Phoenix Suns vs (34-18) Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers and the Phoenix Suns meet for the second time this season. Thought this will be their only meeting at Staples Center during the regular season. In their initial matchup, the Clipper took advantage of the newly formed Suns as they acquired veteran point guard Chris Paul in the off-season. In this meeting, the Clippers would the one introducing a new player to their lineup, as they recently signed veteran guard Rajon Rondo.

With a reputation that proceeds him, Rondo is recognized by many for having one of the best basketball minds in the game. He is also recognized for being an extension of the coach on the court in addition to being a player, for better or worse, that will let anyone on the court how he feels about what he is thinking.

While recording a record of 8-2 in the past 10 games, the Clippers have allowed their opponents to shoot 43.7% and average 101.7 points per game. In that same time frame, they are shooting 48.4% from the field while, averaging 115.4 points, 46.2 rebounds, 23.1 assists, 6.7 steals, and 3.9 blocks per game.

By contrast, the Suns are 9-1 in their most recent 10 games and allowing opponents to shoot 44.1% and 107.5 points per game. All the while shooting 48.9% from the field and averaging 116.5 points, 45.4 rebounds, 26.5 assists, 8.2 steals, and 4.4 blocks per game.

This was a tightly contested game throughout, though the Clippers were led by Paul George’s 18 points in the first half. While Kawhi had a modest 8 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist in the half. The Suns had revenge on their mind and were looking for the upset as Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges would score 11 and 12 points respectively to go into the locker room with the narrow lead.

As the game would get chippy in the second half as there were three technical fouls called, two Technical Fouls called and Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris Sr. would be ejected from the game. Yet the Clippers would get an explosive third quarter from Kawhi as he scored 14 points and had 3 rebounds and 3 assists capped off by a massive dunk over Suns Center DeAndre Ayton.

When Clippers Head Coach was asked post-game about his thoughts on the contentiousness of the game, he responded by saying, “I don’t have any concerns, I love it! You’re competing at a high level against one of the best teams in the league do what you got to do to win. I thought our guys were physical, I thought we competed, I thought we fought. There’s going to be games like this where it’s going to be chippy, their fighting for something we’re fighting for something. So it’s going to happen and I’m okay with it.”

Though Rajon Rondo tied his season-highs in points (12) and assists (8) tonight, it was Paul George’s night that would close down the Suns. George becomes the first player in franchise history to make six-three-pointers and have at least 30 points in consecutive games. He finished the game shooting 7 for 9 from behind the arc.

4/9/21 (14-37) Houston Rockets vs (35-18) Los Angeles Clippers

Clippers are on a three-game win streak against future Western Conference playoffs teams in the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trailblazers, and Phoenix Suns. They could conceivably meet the Trailblazers of the Lakers in the first round. Beating these guys should send them a message in the event they do meet in the playoffs.

In the past ten games, the Clippers have an 8-2 record. They are allowing their opponents to shot 44.9% and average 102.2 points per game. All the while shooting 48.2% from the field and averaging 114.2 points, 45.5 rebounds, 23.1 assists, 6.3 steals, and 3.9 blocks per game.

Over that same period, the Rockets amassed a 3-7 record. They have allowed their competition to shot 46.5% and average 114.1 points per game. They shot 46.0% from the field while averaging 111.1 points, 42.2 rebounds, 25.7 assists, 6.1 steals, and five blocks per game.

The Rockets took an early lead in this game behind Christian Woods 9 points and Kevin Porter Junior’s 6 points and 4 assists in that initial quarter. In that first quarter, the Rockets also dominated the boards in addition to shooting over 56.5% from the field. The Clippers would then respond with vengeance in that second quarter in a franchise-record fashion.

In that second quarter, the Clippers allowed the Rockets to scores 10 points, 2 on free throws at the end of the quarter. That 10 points, is the fewest amount of points allowed in a quarter this season. It is also the number of points allowed in a quarter by the Clippers since they held the Raptors to 10 in the fourth quarter of that game in 11/11/19 vs. Toronto.

The Clippers won that quarter by its the largest point differential in a single quarter since the Clippers won the second quarter by 31 against the Lakers on 3/6/14. This was aided by Reggie Jackson tying his career-high for three-pointers made in a half, with five.

The Clippers improve to 9-1 on the second game of back-to-back games. Additionally, they move to 20-1 when scoring at least 120 points and they are now 7-0 when having at least 30 assists. Reggie Jackson finished the game by tying his career-high in three-pointers made tonight with six.

Terance Mann also had a career night by dishing out nine assists, which tied his career-high. He did achieve this with zero turnovers while shooting 7 for 8 from the field and 2 for 2 from behind the arc, in his 35 minutes of playing time against the Rockets. When asked about this efficiency he played with post-game, he confidently said, “In terms of no turnovers and shooting the ball well, I’m playing my game and doing what I do. I feel like my whole career, ever since high school, has always been like that; low turnovers, high assists, and efficient at the rim.”

4/9/21 (16-37) Houston Rockets vs (36-18) Los Angeles Clippers

In the past ten games, the Clippers allowed opponents to shoot 45.1% and average 102.1 points per game. They amassed an 8-2 over this time frame while shooting 48.7% and averaging 114.9 points, 44.9 rebounds, 23.6 assists, 6.9 steals, and 3.6 blocks per game.

The Pistons over the past 10 games have allowed 48.0% and 112.4 points per game. They were 4-6 over this time while shooting 46.7% from the field. All the while averaging 109 points, 41 rebounds, 25.2 assists, seven steals and five blocks per game.

The Pistons jumped out to a 14-6 lead behind 100% shooting from the arc, Wayne Ellington and Josh Jackson each shooting 2 for 2 early on this game. Saddiq Bey and Corey Joseph opened up to score 8 points and 9 points respectively. The Pistons were allowed to shot 60.9% from the field and 58.3% from behind the arc in that first quarter which led to a 5-point lead after the first quarter.

The Clippers finally tie this game on a Luke Kennard jumper assisted by Reggie Jackson. But the Pistons respond with a three-pointer from Frank Jackson and Josh Jackson’s ninth and tenth point of the game, to give them a 5-point lead. After Josh Jackson hits a couple of jumpers to give him 18 points in the half. Marcus Morris Sr. gets a steal and fakes a drive to the hoop pulls up and drains a shot from behind the arc to narrow the Pistons lead to one point. That was Marcus Morris Sr.’s 1,000 career three-pointer.

The Clippers take the lead on Ivica Zubac’s dunk from Paul George’s pass, who’s been the team’s main facilitator in that first half. The Clipper took a one-point lead into the locker room 63 to 62 at the half. Not only did Paul George score 18 points in the half, as the main facilitator, he led all players with a game-high 6 assists.

Saddiq Bey is fouled shooting a three and is awarded 3 free throws and subsequently makes all three free throws. The Piston would go on to make 4 three-pointers in the third quarter extending their lead to 12 points 91-79. Since that point, the Clippers went on a 24-10 run to take a 2-point lead early in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers wouldn’t trail in the game again.

Ivica Zubac finished with his 11th double-double of the season and was the most double-double he’s had in a single season in his career. Big Zubac would also record a career-high seven assists against the Pistons. As a team, the Clippers tallied a season-high 35 assists in the game.

He finished the game 3 assist shy of his first triple-double, but Zubac is such a team player and modest guy that I tried to get him to expound on the possibilities of getting a triple-double in his post-game media availability. Yet he would only say, “I was just making the right plays, I’m not the guy who cares about stats much; so I just go out there and try to help the team win… whatever that means 7 assists or zero assists, I’m going to do it.”

Marcus Morris Sr. also recorded a season-high and team-high 33 points, while Paul chipped in 32 points and had a team-high 9 assist in this seventh win in this 9-game home stretch. This fifth consecutive win for the Clippers was the longest active win streak in the NBA. Additionally, the Clippers extended a franchise record of 10 consecutive seasons with an above .500 record.

4/12/21 (37-18) Los Angeles Clippers vs (25-27) Indianapolis Pacers

The Clippers begin this three-game road trip on a 5 game win streak. They will be without Patrick Beverley, Serge Ibaka and Kawhi Leonard will miss his second consecutive game. They will face the Indianapolis Pacers for the last time in this regular season and who will be looking to avenge their 33 point loss to the Clippers at Staples Center.

The Clippers take a 15-10 record on the road. Over the past 10 games, they are shooting 49.4% from the field, while averaging 114.6 points per game, 44.2 rebounds, 24.8 assists, 6.3 steals, and 3.8 blocks. Also, they are allowing the opponents to shot 45.8% while scoring 104.4 points per game.

The Pacers, on the other hand, are 6-4 over the past 10 games. They are shooting 47.5% from the field while averaging 115.3 points per game. They are pulling down 43.3 rebounds, 27.5 assists, 8.5 steals, and 7.9 blocks per game. In this time frame, their opponents are shooting 47.2% from the field and are averaging 115.7 points per game. Though they have a 9-15 record at home.

Surprisingly, Paul George is still booed by Pacers fans when he returns to Indianapolis. He is now 4-0 in Indianapolis when he faces the Pacers. George continued his hot streak tonight, by recording his fourth consecutive game scoring 30 points. This ties the longest such streak of his career. He finished the game with 36 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists. Clippers Head Coach would say about George’s game, “He finally getting healthy. He’s able to attack, get downhill, getting to the paint, dunking the basketball, finishing in the rim, making the right passes, and reads… and when he’s playing at a high level like this we’re of a tough team.”

With big games coming from Kawhi and or Paul George, it appears that Marcus Morris Sr., has been allowed to slide under the radar sort of speak, Though Morris would chip in 22 points and pull down 7 assists against the Pacers, I asked HC Ty about this post-game and had this to say, “Being able to post him, especially when PG (Paul George) or Kawhi (Leonard), one of those guys are out, he becomes our second main scorer. So just make sure he gets the right amount of touches, keep him engaged in the game, and play through him a little bit. We were able to do that in that third quarter… he was able to carry us in that third.” Morris Sr. would eclipse 3,000 career rebounds on his 3rd rebound of the game.

This is the seventh game they would pull down 48 rebounds. This is also their tenth highest rebounding total of the season, which was just another example of their teamwork, as all the players who play double digits minutes pulled more than 3 rebounds.

Nicolas Batum would get five rebounds, 5 blocks, and 14 points. This would be the second time in Nicolas Batum’s career that he’d record consecutive games with at least three blocked shots.

The Clippers improve to 22-1 when scoring at least 120 points. This is also their third-straight game with at least 30 assists. The last time they had three consecutive games with at least 30 assists was 12/1/14-12/6/14. Additionally, they are now on a 6 game win streak and have a 14-3 record since All-Star Break.

As the Clippers season is winding down, this team appears to be coming together and approaching their full potential, despite the injuries. Clippers fans should be ecstatic about their progression should they continue on this path into and throughout the playoffs, which are roughly four weeks away.

Kindly share your thoughts on their season thus far and let us know if you think this improves the team’s ceiling. 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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