Clippers return from 6-game trip battered but standing at 20-8 overall

first_imgEven in retirement, Ralph Lawler is keeping it real: “Guess you could blame schedule for Clipper Loss in Chicago,” tweeted the Hall of Fame former Clippers broadcaster after the Clippers’ 109-106 loss Saturday in a game that started about 22 hours after the team’s victory in Minneapolis had.“But I’d saying missing (Kawhi) Leonard and (Lou) Williams down the stretch was the difference. Still, 4-2 trip is acceptable. 2 games coming up at home this week.”Despite the sting of letting leads of as many as 15 points slip away against the now 10-18 Bulls, the Clippers, short-handed and gassed, could tolerate going 4-2 in the matter of nine days.“Did we probably think we’d be better? I did, personally,” coach Doc Rivers told reporters in Chicago. “But we’ll take 4-2.” They now have a couple days between Saturday’s loss and Tuesday’s home game against the Phoenix Suns (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Prime Ticket) to try to heal up and thaw out from their six-game East Coast swing — and to take stock of where they stand among the NBA title hopefuls.They boarded their flight back to Southern California with a 20-8 record, second-best in the Western Conference and fourth-best in the league.This trip – on which they ran their road record to 7-7 — featured feel-good quality wins against the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers that helped wash away the taste of a 119-91 blowout defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks that started the excursion on Dec. 6.Then Leonard and Paul George donned their capes and went full superstar in Friday’s win over the Timberwolves, combining for a combined 88 points, as many as any duo ever has scored in a regulation NBA game.Through it all, the Clippers remained upright despite juggling an onslaught of injuries that sidelined JaMychal Green (tailbone contusion) for all but four minutes, Landry Shamet (left ankle sprain) for five games, Rodney McGruder (right hamstring strain) for four, Patrick Beverley (concussion) and Lou Williams (right calf soreness) for two apiece and Patrick Patterson (back spasms) for one. For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory Clippers hope they can play to their capabilities, quell Mavericks’ momentum Game 4 photos: Luka Doncic, Mavs shock Clippers in overtime What the Clippers are saying the day after Luka Doncic’s game-winner tied series, 2-2 center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Clippers’ Paul George: ‘If I make shots, this series could be a little different’ “There is no shortcut to it: We just got to go out there, we got to play, we got to leave it on the floor,” said George of the constant lineup fluctuations.Along with Ivica Zubac and Moe Harkless, Montrezl Harrell is one of only three Clippers who’s played in all 28 games — and he delivered a silver lining even in Saturday’s loss, becoming just the ninth NBA player since 2000 to notch 30-plus points and 3-plus blocks in a game off the bench.Also helping soften the blow of Saturday’s loss: Shamet returned, and he brought his shot with him. The second-year guard came back from a 17-game absence to score 11 points — going 3 for 4 from 3-point range — in 21 minutes.“It was great, great to get my first feel on the floor with him tonight,” George said. “I look forward to all of us getting back, seeing what that’s going to be like. Myself, Kawhi, Pat (Beverley) Lou, Sham, getting us all out there. I’m looking forward to it.” Also, the pair of back-to-back sets of games kept Leonard off the floor for two games this trip, which the Clippers split.Leonard, who is averaging 25.8 points and career-best 7.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists, has missed half of all five of the Clippers’ back-to-back sets so far this season on account of injury management for left knee soreness. In those games, the Clippers are 2-3. (Their next back-to-back comes Dec. 21-22 at San Antonio and then Oklahoma City, after which seven more will remain on the schedule.)George, after missing the first 11 games of the season as he completed rehab from offseason shoulder surgeries, has played in 17 consecutive for the Clippers, bringing some much-needed stability with his 24.8 points per game.Related Articleslast_img

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