The Los Angeles Clippers fell 128-115 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the absence of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but it was a much-improved display from Tyronn Lue’s team.
Once again, it was the second quarter where the Clippers fell far behind, as they remain the lowest-ranked team in the league for second quarter net and offensive rating – and during those frames they’re also in the bottom eight for defensive rating.
Here are the takeaways from a fifth straight loss…
The energy was there, the legs weren’t
First and foremost, we wanted to see the Clippers react to the loss to the Denver Nuggets and they did just that in Minnesota. The energy was much better and there was a fight and determination to their performance, which went as far as seeing the Timberwolves keep key players in the game until there were just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The biggest problem was that, despite a much more energetic performance, the team still didn’t quite have the legs to get themselves back into the win column. They managed to produce better quality looks but just couldn’t knock them down, and their overall fatigue was best displayed by Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr. both putting their hands on their knees after they went down 21 with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.
At this point, provided Kawhi, PG, and Nico can play soon, I'd try to rest Morris and Reggie for a few games to see if that gives them some more life.— Robert Flom (@RichHomieFlom) January 7, 2023
This level of effort is not acceptable https://t.co/1kd8zxvN6u
The guys are tired, but it was not for the want of trying in this one…
Brown on the rebound
As the Clippers’ quest for a backup big goes on, their current option Moses Brown put in another good display. Rudy Gobert was able to have it all his own way in the first half scoring 20 points, but Brown managed to keep him much quieter after halftime and was one of the main reasons that the team stuck around in the game.
The lead was mostly chipped away at the free throw line, where Brown managed to get to six times in the second half, scoring three of his 11 points there. It seems unlikely that the Clippers will decide he’s the backup center that could help them make a deep postseason run, but he’s proving to be a solid option.
Throw it down, Moses Brown pic.twitter.com/tk33bVsILT— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 7, 2023
He’s been a big positive during a tough spell…
Is there hope?
The picture for the Clippers is bleak at this moment. That loss sees them drop down into the play-in picture, just a game above .500. The Golden State Warriors have now overtaken with a marginally better record and the banged-up Los Angeles Lakers are now just two games back. A possible injury to Luke Kennard will compound another game missed by Leonard and George, though more long-term absences for the three do seem unlikely at this stage.
However, the team is back home for the next five matchups, having played eight in eight cities over 15 nights throughout this recent tough run. A few weeks of no travel should mean increased chance to rest and recuperate for a number of guys that desperately need it, while having the majority of fans in the arena on their side should help them guard against opponents going on such energizing runs in games.
It’s not hard to imagine the Clippers being in a much healthier position just a few weeks from now, but the hard work momentarily becomes about securing a guaranteed playoff berth rather than purely setting things up for later in the postseason.