Wasn’t that Spurs game Friday pretty weird? That might (hopefully) be the worst game the Clippers play all season, with Paul George and Lou Williams combining for only 12 points, and no Clipper reaching 20+. I don’t think it was a testament to anything the Spurs did, I just think the Clippers got caught at the end of a road trip with a nice, fattening holiday mixed in and were missing everything. The Spurs, at home and comfortable, were seemingly making everything, and sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Luckily, LA was mostly able to take care of biz on the road beforehand so taking the one random L during a busy week didn’t kill them in the standings or in the eyes of the NBA media.
This was a week of survival. Playing four games, three of which were on the road and including a traveling b2b, it was imperative the Clips show some fight. This included a non-Kawhi game against the Grizzlies and a game against the best young guard in the league right now in Luka Doncic. Without Kawhi, in Memphis, the Clips defense struggled. However, when it came time to put up or shut up, it was the Clips tried and true combo of Montrezl Harrell and Sweet Lou that stepped up in the fourth. Both had 24 points while Lou had a career high 13 assists and Trez chipped in 10 boards, none more important than the last tip-in offensive board that sealed a two point dub. It was one of those games where maybe it wasn’t LA’s night, yet when the time came, they got the job done.
Easily the most impressive win of the week came last Tuesday when LA faced off against Luka and angered him to the point where he didn’t even answer reporters’ questions after the game. In what was, statistically, his worst game of the season, the Clips smothered Luka and the rest of the Dallas squad, forcing them into 20 turnovers. This was a contest that showed how devastating the perimeter defense of the Clippers can be when Leonard, George, Moe Harkless, and Patrick Beverley are on the floor at the same time. You throw in Ivica Zubac to that bunch, and you get a lineup that can stop anyone up top and at the rim.
After the inexplicable shooting performance against the Spurs, the Clips poured 150 on the Wizards, the second time this season they’ve hit that mark - and the second time they’ve done it after a loss. It was good to see everyone back on track scoring wise and it was GREAT to see that no one played more than 30 minutes. Health is obviously important to this team and after seeing Landry Shamet, Rodney McGruder, and now JaMychal Green all leave games and miss time (Green’s most likely day-to-day), any game the Clips can win easily and not exasperate themselves is great.
Let’s take a look at where the NBA media has the Clippers ranked after a quarter of the season.
This week: 3, Last week: 3
Notes: “It was kind of a weird hiccup to lose to the Spurs, ending a seven-game winning streak for the Clippers that featured victories over the Celtics, Rockets and Mavericks. But since Paul George made his debut, the Clippers are 8-2 with a positive net rating approaching double digits. They’re 5-1 when George and Kawhi Leonard both play, which means they’re really just getting started.”
This week: 4, Last week: 3
Notes: “The Clippers bounced back from an inexplicable loss to San Antonio by dropping 150 points on the Wizards at home on Sunday night. Paul George, who scored just five points against the Spurs, went off for 31 points in 30 minutes against Washington, while Kawhi Leonard added 34 in 26 minutes. The Clippers have the fourth-best defense in the NBA since George and Leonard first played together.”
This week: 5, Last week: 3
Notes: “The Clippers defense has more options to throw at top-end wing scorers than anybody else, which Luka Doncic learned on Tuesday.
Los Angeles limited the second-year phenom to 22 points on 4-of-14 shooting, hassling the MVP candidate into seven turnovers with a collective assault spearheaded alternately by Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Moe Harkless and the ever irascible Patrick Beverley. If there were a hell designed to punish opposing wings for eternity, those four would be its torturers in residence. Montrezl Harrell tipped home the game-winner in Memphis on Wednesday, but the Clips couldn’t get past a desperate Spurs team on Friday, falling by a final of 107-97. After a walkover against Washington on Sunday, the Clippers emerged from the week with eight victories in their last nine games.
L.A. has been a clear top-10 team all season, though it still feels like we haven’t come close to seeing its best yet.”
This week: 3, Last week: 3
Notes: “We’ve seen 119 minutes of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard together this season entering Sunday night, a large enough sample to draw at least some conclusions. How has the duo fared thus far? Pretty darn well. The Clippers are outscoring opponents by 7.4 points per 100 possessions when the two share the floor, led by a 97.6 defensive rating. Scoring on the Clippers closing unit is a nightmare. Leonard and George are learning their two-man dance quite quickly. It’s been an ideal start in Los Angeles.”
This week: 3, Last week: 8
Notes: “Clippers fans are thankful they are finally getting to see Paul George and Kawhi Leonard play together: In 94 minutes together on the court this season the Clippers are +6.9 per 100 possessions, with an elite defense allowing less than a point per possession. The Clippers are 4-0 with both superstars in the lineup, and that includes shutting down the league’s best offense in Dallas on Tuesday, plus hard-fought victories over hot teams in Boston (a playoff-level intensity game) and Houston. Leonard even had the game-winner against the Rockets.”