The one team’s hot run had to end on Monday night, and it turned out to the Clippers’. The Cavaliers narrowly outpaced the Clippers all game but took control in the fourth quarter. Despite a late Clippers’ push, they fell to the Cavs, 118-108.
Kawhi Leonard was fantastic, once again. He finished the game with 30 points on 13/25 shooting, eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Unfortunately, though, none of his fellow front men showed up: Paul George and James Harden combined to go 6/19, collectively scoring fewer than Kawhi by himself (23).
The Clippers’ lack of size hurt them; not only are they down Ivica Zubac, but they also elected to play small. As a result, the Cavaliers’ big men showed out: Evan Mobley had an efficient 10 points (on 5/7 shooting) and nine rebounds and Jarrett Allen had 20 points, 17 rebounds, and was +11 in a game that the Cavs won by just ten.
Neither team shot particular well; the free throws and turnovers were even; and both teams only had one player in significant foul trouble. The difference in this Clippers-Cavaliers game was Cleveland’s six more shot attempts, a product of winning the offensive rebounding category by five.
Paul George, Take a Break: Paul George has been limited in respect to production and availability since he re-aggravated his groin. Moreover, after the game, Ty Lue said that he has been playing through pain. With the Wizards and Pistons next up on the road trip, the Clippers ought to consider resting George to fully address this injury before it gets worse. [To be clear, I am not saying the Clippers’ can take those games lightly overall.]
Standings Watch: The Clippers have already dropped from the third seed to the fourth; with a win tonight, they would have been tied with the Nuggets for the second seed. Overall, the Clippers did get a gift with the Timberwolves vs. Thunder game: one team had to pick up a loss, thankfully (if only they both could have lost). That game resulted in the Thunder dropping to 15 losses. Unfortunately, the Bucks could not beat the Nuggets, so they stayed at 15 losses as well. The top of the West is very crowded.