The Clippers lost to the Pelicans 112-91 at home in another blowout, dropping their fourth straight game after winning their first two contests of the 2023 season. Keep reading for a quick recap of the Clippers’ loss to the Pelicans.
Full disclosure – I did not watch much of this game, as I was on a train throughout it’s duration with bad WiFi. All remaining thoughts are based on the boxscore, Twitter discourse, and some quick run-throughs of lineups.
Clippers Too Small: I wouldn’t say the Clippers’ small-ball experiment is doomed or has run it’s course, but they have found very early this season that there are limitations to small-ball. Namely, without Kawhi Leonard creating advantages on offense and three-point shots falling, it loses any sort of edge offensively compared to lineups with traditional big men. And, while Robert Covington is a great rim protector for his size, and Nic Batum and Marcus Morris can body up big guys in one on one situations, none of them can replicate the defensive impact and especially rebounding of a 7 footer. More pressingly, lineups with 3 or 4 guards can’t succeed defensively or on the glass. There was a lineup of Wall-Reggie-Luke-Norm-Nico at one point, and that unit simply has no chance at anything defensively. Kawhi returning will help defensively and on the glass, but Ty needs to stay away from the super-small units.
PG Continues to Slump: Paul George took 19 shots in 28 minutes, but considering the Clippers were without Kawhi and the Pelicans didn’t have their best wing stopper in Herb Jones, one wishes he would have taken more. Outside of Kawhi’s absence, the biggest reason for the Clippers’ struggles has been George’s play. He’s had one good game, missed a game, and been quiet to bad in the other four. When you think about it, the Clippers not having their two best players either on the court or in rhythm explains a lot of the 2-4 record, even with a soft-ish schedule. It doesn’t explain how flat and unprepared the Clips have looked, but considering Kawhi has barely played and PG has barely played well, a 2-4 record looks a lot more understandable. It’s still been a brutal first two weeks, but Kawhi’s return and better play from George should clear a lot of issues.