For the second night in a row, the Clippers’ revised injury report brought bad news just a few hours before the game. This time, Norman Powell and Ivica Zubac were officially ruled out. They joined Marcus Morris, Sr. and Kawhi Leonard in street clothes. Check out our recap of the short(er)-handed Clippers’ loss to the Kings below:
Again, the Clippers played a decent first half. At halftime, they found themselves down just five and, really, the only difference between the two teams was found at the free throw line. The Kings were 14/14 in the first half; relatedly, Terance Mann and Plumlee were both in foul trouble.
Ty Lue played a pretty big rotation in the first half, likely because it was the second game of a back-to-back. Mann came off the bench, as usual, and he was joined by Bones Hyland, Robert Covington, and Amir Coffey. The unit understandably did not have much rhythm or chemistry, but Covington was able to put up seven points (leading the bench), along with a ton of great activity on defense.
The Clippers held serve in the third quarter, as both teams scored 33. The Kings, though, landed the first few punches in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers found themselves down double digits mid-way through the quarter. The Clippers bench, which started the quarter, could not hit open shots. Bones Hyland finished the game 1/9 from the field (0/6 from three).
The Clippers did not fold, though. After going down thirteen with 6:52 remaining, the Clippers went on a 22-8 run to take a 125-124 lead. They were led by George, who scored 12 points during that run, including a shot to put the Clippers up one with 33 seconds left. Westbrook, Covington, and Batum also pitched in.
After George put the Clippers up one, De’Aaron Fox missed a pull-up jumper. Covington got the rebound, handed the ball to George, who (eventually) got the ball up the court to Gordon after scrambling around in the backcourt. As Gordon was about to be trapped by two Kings’ defenders, he threw the ball across the court to Westbrook, who was wide open. Unfortunately, the pass was a little off and Westbrook failed to secure it, despite getting two hands on the ball. The Kings then received the ball with 15 seconds left yet. The play, again, was for Fox, who missed another mid-range jumper.
The game was ultimately decided by a (pretty weak) foul call on Covington, who made contact with Sabonis as they both went for a rebound. Sabonis made both free throws to give the Kings the lead, and George’s deep three fell short and to the right as time expired.
Gold Medal: Robert Covington
Covington finished the game with 15 points, four rebounds, two steals, and an asset in 31 minutes. He shot 6/11 from the field and 3/8 from three. Although he was -5 for the game, he had the best two-way game from any Clipper. He drove close-outs, hit big threes, and his defense was essential during the fourth quarter comeback.
Silver Medal: Russell Westbrook
Despite the final turnover (I think both Gordon and Russell share blame), Westbrook had a fantastic game. He played within himself and made the team better when he was on the floor. In 36 minutes, he scored 27 points, had 10 rebounds, two blocks, two rebounds, and a steal. He did have five turnovers, which hurts, but the Clippers as a whole only had seven, so the turnovers were not the difference in the game. Russell also had a +10 plus-minus, which was second best tonight.
Bronze Medal: Eric Gordon
Gordon responded to last night’s flat performance with a strong offensive output. He scored 21 points, along with three rebounds, three assists, and a steal in 30 minutes. The defense is still inconsistent, but his ability to shoot from deep (i.e., far behind the three point line) helped with the Clippers’ spacing tonight.
Honorable Mention: Paul George
Although PG had a huge fourth quarter, it took him way too long to get going. He only took four shots in the first quarter and only earned on trip to the free throw line. His foul trouble also limited his ability to influence the whole game. Still, credit to PG for willing his way to a lead with 30 seconds left. He brought the Clippers to the finish line, but they could not cross it.
That about does it for this recap of the Clippers’ loss against the Kings. As always, check out The Lob The Jam The Podcast and Clips ‘N Dip for analysis throughout the week, and follow us on Twitter to watch the game with us!