Despite a huge effort from Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers fell 131-130 to the Indiana Pacers to round off a roller coaster 2022 for the franchise.
Ty Lue tinkered further with his lineups as Robert Covington saw first half minutes but sat the whole of the second, and Terance Mann sat the whole of the first before checking in during the third quarter, where the team clawed their way back after another slow start.
But it wasn’t to be, so let’s end the year with some takeaways…
PG Carries The Clips
George was the hot hand on his return to Indiana, and the Clippers were right to keep giving him the ball. He had 17 points in the first half, when few others could find their offensive rhythm – besides Marcus Morris Sr. with 10, before he went cold after halftime – and came out for the second looking to do further damage.
He ended the game with 45 points on 15-for-25 from the field including 7-for-13 from deep, plus 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals to boot. With double teams on Ivica Zubac from tipoff, another slow shooting start from Luke Kennard and without the energy of Mann until the third quarter, George was the shot in the arm the team needed.
It’s just a shame that it wasn’t enough to complete the turnaround…
Clips Gotta Be Faster
The problem is the Clippers keep digging themselves into a hole. Right now, I’m torn between thinking that no other contender has suffered as much, which could be a blessing come playoff time when some suffering is guaranteed, but also thinking this team doesn’t have enough reps of being at their absolute best to go the whole way.
Despite being a top six team for second half net rating with 3.8, their 23rd-place ranking of -3.7 for first half net rating is letting them down time and again. Young teams like the Pacers don’t need any encouragement to get their energy up and get their fans on side, and yet the Clippers have put themselves in a similar hole too frequently this season.
It would be good to see them come out the blocks quicker in 2023…
End On A Positive
Let’s not leave this on a negative note for the year. The Clippers closed out 2022 with a loss, but in a way, that sums up what has been a roller coaster year for the franchise. The back end of last season was such a cycle of hopes being raised and then crushed, as they fought to try and get healthy and make a playoff run but ultimately lost to the New Orleans Pelicans after PG entered health and safety protocols.
So despite rounding off the year with a tough loss, the biggest positive was that they came into this game with just a singular short-term injury to Nicolas Batum, while Kawhi Leonard has all but shed his minutes restriction and was hooping his butt off in the third quarter of this game.
Way too much negativity going on with the Clippers discourse. This was a really difficult road trip. You can see them making strides offensively and figuring things out despite the losses.— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) January 1, 2023
The biggest thing is Kawhi and PG are on the floor and moving extremely well.
As we’ve said time and again with this squad: if they can stay healthy, the rest will fall into place. Well, they’re there for now, so let’s see what happens.
Here’s to a happy and healthy new year, Clipper Nation.