If you looked at the box score of last night’s game without checking the point totals, a lot of things went in the Clippers favor. They had 20 more field goal attempts than the Nets, including 36 3-point attempts. They made 15 of those threes, compared to 13 for the Nets. They also had 12 steals to just eight turnovers.
All of those stats would seem to add up to a Clippers win, and yet, the team found itself on the losing end for just the second time on this road trip. After the game, head coach Ty Lue and the players pointed to a few critical errors that resulted in defeat.
“We had some bad mistakes out there,” Kawhi Leonard said postgame. “Fouling shooters, just giving them points. You know, they’re already great scorers. So we just gotta keep letting them be great and not make it easy on them by fouling on jump shots. Some of our pick up points were messed up on the defensive end.”
As Leonard alluded to, the Clippers fouled jump shooters on three separate occasions, two on James Harden and on Landry Shamet, leading to nine free throws, of which the Nets made eight. One of the few areas where the Nets outdid the Clippers on the stat sheet was in free-throw attempts (26-17), and that advantage was entirely made up of those three-shot fouls.
Lue said they had talked pregame about contesting sideways on jump shooters, so it was a point of emphasis against a team with snipers up and down the roster. Unfortunately, the Clippers couldn’t execute on that consistently enough.
Leonard also brought up the team’s pick-up points, meaning that the players didn’t get to their man high enough in transition, allowing them to step into pull-up jumpers. That was a problem during Brooklyn’s 13-0 fourth-quarter run, as Kyrie Irving got Nic Batum back-pedaling and had broad daylight for a wing three to put the Nets up five. Kevin Durant also caught his defender too far inside the arc a few possessions later, canning a three in his face to extend the lead to 10. For the game, the Nets had six more transition points.
“I thought we just made some mental mistakes,” Lue said. “We fouled three jump shooters. One time we come out in the zone and we didn’t know we were in the zone, Joe Harris makes a three to kind of get them going in the corner. And then the very next play, offensive rebound, Joe Harris makes another three, kind of got them going.”
The Harris threes were part of a 19-4 run that spanned the second and third quarters, one of two sequences during the game when the Clippers were outscored by double digits. If not for their failure to execute during that stretch, the outcome of this game could have been markedly different. Instead of a win, all the Clippers have are lessons to learn for their next meeting against Brooklyn, which will take place on Feb. 21.
More news for Wednesday:
- The Athletic made its first All-Star picks, and there are no surprises in terms of which Clippers made the cut.
- Paul George only earned one free-throw attempt in Tuesday’s game. He made his displeasure about that situation very clear afterwards.
- Daniel Lubofsky broke down Kawhi Leonard’s MVP case.
- George and Leonard were both nominees for Western Conference player of the month. Here’s who the honor went to.