Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Clippers Without Paul George Can’t Find the Beat of Losing Kings

Less than 24 hours after Sacramento were so powerless to maintain a double-digit lead over the Lakers without LeBron James, interim Kings coach Alvin Gentry actually apologized to the team’s fans, saying they “deserve more.” the coach was not going to let the same mistake happen again.

Despite all the odds of what happened in the previous two hours, the Clippers squad with reserves and G Leaguers pushed back to close the Kings lead from 25 points to 14 with 8 minutes ahead of Wednesday’s Staples Center game.

Gentry made sure to bring starters Rishon Holmes, Tyreese Haliburton and Terence Davis back, who seemed to have restored order in less than a minute. After the Clippers defender missed Luke Kennard, he dunked De’Aaron Fox and the lead returned to 18, Clippers coach Tyrone Liu called a time-out to retire. The basket increased the Kings’ fast-break point advantage to 20-4.

Clippers star Paul George, who took a break from an ankle adjustment on Sunday, his first missed game this season, sat with his arms folded in a timeout. Teammate Serge Ibaka was holding the mask.

But the Clippers of Keon Johnson, Jay Scrubb and Terence Mann didn’t end there, reminiscent of the short nights last season when the Clippers fought and found ways to win, “because the guys who stepped on the floor always played hard.” said coach Tyrone Liu. The 22-point lead with less than five minutes left was eight-three minutes late and the rally was not overpowered until the Kings last-minute free throws secured a 124-115 win for Sacramento.

The late game was spectacular. That it was necessary was perhaps predictable on a night when the Clippers’ top players were either on the bench in streetwear – George and Kawhi Leonard – or at home, in the case of Nicholas Batum, on the NBA health records. and safety. but nevertheless, it indicates a difficult period, which is approaching its third week.

The defeat was his seventh in 10 games and help is not coming in full measure ahead of Friday’s game against the Lakers. Although George, who played 35.5 minutes in his first 21 games, will play on Friday, Batum will not be back in time, Liu said. Liu said Batum, the core of the Clippers’ seven-win streak that began in November, is “feeling better” but will miss its seventh game in a row.

Kennard and Mann each averaged 19 points for the Clippers (11-11).

The Kings (9-14) finished the first quarter 17-2. They tore the score 12: 2 in the second. And, perhaps the saddest, they started third place with eight unanswered points against the starting lineup without George, but with numerous veterans.

“It all started very slowly,” Liu said. “They played much faster than us, they flew. We couldn’t keep up with that third quarter. “

Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox confronts Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe at the Staples Center on Wednesday.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times) #

Fox has 24 points, Davis 23 and Davion Mitchell 20 for the Kings (9-14), who have 52% from the field and 15 threes.

“I feel like we started off softly,” said center Ivica Zubac, with 17 points and seven rebounds. “Our game plan was to lose to most of the guys. [screens]but I feel like we did it gently and should have been more aggressive and just let them do the practice shots. “

Liu described himself as pleased with the team’s 35 assists on 47 baskets, how they listened to his pre-match directive to hit the paint, and the relatively low 13 assists.

But he didn’t know how he felt about his two-center starting lineup with Zubach and Serge Ibaka when they first played together this season after playing just six possessions last season.

Ibaka has not played in the strongest forward for four seasons, and now has played in the two-center lineup twice in the last four games.

“I think we can do it,” Zubats said.

This size was used in part to stop what George called the team’s “kryptonite” throughout the season. Knowing that the Clippers are some of the worst in the league in transition performance, George said opponents don’t fear their quick breaks and instead make extra rebounds in the attacking field. It worked: The Clippers are in the bottom third of the league in attacking rebounds.

But it was not the Kings’ five attacking boards in the quarter and a half that provided the 20-point lead in the first half. As you’d expect, the starter, which didn’t include George, also lacked offensive popularity.

Despite having seven more shots at half-time, the Clippers made the same number of shots as the Kings. However, they narrowed that deficit to 10 in the first half, in part due to rookie Brandon Boston Jr.’s 11 points in 14 minutes of the first half.

The rookie, loved in the Clippers for his fearless confidence that he can score anyone – an approach that helped him score 46 points in Monday’s G-League game – scored 13 points in 24 minutes but played sparingly in comeback time due to the minute limit, Liu said.

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