The tired Clippers were sloppy, mistake-prone, and lethargic in a 117-106 loss to the Pelicans that was not nearly as close as the score indicates.
The Clippers got off to an abysmal start, turning the ball over multiple times and launching bd shots while the Pelicans got easy ones, and quickly trailed 11-2. After Ty’s timeout, the offense remained fairly sloppy, but the defense picked up, and by the mid point of the quarter the game was tied 13-13. The bench came in, and things fell apart once more, with turnovers and bad decisions dominating on offense and lackadaisical defense allowing a series of blow-bys to the Pels. By the end of the quarter, the Clippers trailed 36-19, and had an incredible eight turnovers to their scoresheet.
The Clippers ran out their usual bench lineup, and while this unit was by no means great, at least they were finally able to get some consecutive buckets. The Clippers tried to chip away at the Pelicans’ lead, but every time they looked like cutting it to single digits the Pelicans would push it back out. Matters were not helped by Paul George going 0-9 from the field (0-6 from three) and taking some truly horrific shots to try to get out of his slump. Harden and Norm kept the Clippers in it with Kawhi being doubled, and a big three by Coffey at the end of the half finally got the lead down to single digits, 55-47.
The third quarter was pretty hideous for both teams. Neither team could get much going on offense, with Kawhi and PG continuing to brick for the most part and the Pelicans not doing much better. Ivica Zubac got a couple buckets, and that was it. About halfway through the period Ty Lue went small with Russ for Zu to juice the offense. It worked, as Kawhi was able to get going. Unfortunately, the Pelicans’ offense also got revved up, and the Clippers could not make headway. The bench came in late, and things got no better, with another bad Russ shift coinciding with Zion torching Plumlee. It seemed fortunate the Clippers trailed only 79-69 after three.
The Clippers went on a lightning quick 5-0 run to get the Pelicans’ lead down to five, forcing a timeout from the Pels in less than a minute. Unfortunately, that was as close as the Clippers would get. For some reason, Plumlee stayed in the game, and Zion continued to mercilessly hunt him, eventually fouling Plumlee out at the 8:17 mark and putting the Pelicans up 11. Ty tried small ball and then the Powell Rangers unit, but nothing worked, with the Clippers looking sloppy on both ends and the Pelicans (mostly McCollum) now hitting their shots. With 4:15 to go and the Pelicans up just 14, Ty waved the white flag, sensing the exhaustion of his team, and garbage time commenced.
Everyone Was Bad: The Clippers just got back from a long and exhausting road trip, and looked it. The only players who had good games were Norm (18 points on 14 shots) and Zu (12 points and 8 rebounds in 21 minutes), with Harden having a good box score (efficient 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists) but with a really awful defensive performance and too much passivity in the 2nd half. Both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were terrible, with PG barfing up bad shots and Kawhi struggling against the hard double teams. Russ was 2-7 and had three turnovers in 18 minutes. Amir was solid enough but quiet. Terance was invisible. And Plumlee was effective on offense but got destroyed on defense. Ty gets a negative grade for letting Plumlee get destroyed on defense. An awful showing all around.
Trade Deadline Tomorrow: The NBA trade deadline is tomorrow at 3 PM ET, and that means we should see some action around the NBA. Three small trades happened today, but hopefully there are more moves made tomorrow. I would expect the Clippers to be fairly quiet, though a Bones Hyland dump and/or PJ Tucker trade for a forward upgrade seem quite possible if not likely. We will see, but this roster will probably look at least slightly different on Saturday.