With over seven days of rest, the LA Clippers returned from the All-Star break to take on their division rival, the Sacramento Kings. This match-up was crucial for LA as they are trying to close in on the third seed in the Western Conference. Not to mention Sacramento could be a potential playoff opponent.
That said, the LA Clippers lost 175-176, which turned out to be the second-highest-scoring game in the history of the NBA. Though both teams rank in the league’s upper echelon defensively, neither offense could be stopped, especially down the stretch.
Despite the loss, the superstar duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George put on a show for the home crowd. These two combined for 78 points, 14 rebounds, and nine assists. Additionally, Leonard and George played hard defensively, as they posted four steals and three blocks.
However, one of the biggest stories of the night was the Clipper debut of the former MVP, Russell Westbrook. Although he fouled out in 39 minutes of action, Westbrook dropped 17 points, 14 assists, and five rebounds while shooting 7-of-13 from the field.
The LA Clippers lost the game by being careless with the basketball.
Though the LA Clippers shot 60.2% from the field and 57.8% from three, they turned the ball over 25 times. Entering double-overtime does not excuse these errors, as they ultimately put the Clippers in a position to lose the rivalry.
Another primary concern for the LA Clippers was the number of minutes seen by the slashing wing, Terance Mann. Out of 58 total minutes, Mann only stepped on the court for 18 of them. Head coach Tyronn Lue has to do a better job inserting Mann into the game, as this could have easily put the momentum in their favor.
Through all of the miscues, players like Norman Powell and Nicolas Batum made an immediate impact off the bench. These two combined knocked down ten three-pointers and finished the game with a positive +/-.
While the loss may be disappointing, Lue and his staff should use it to improve for their next contest against Denver. This could be a season-altering match-up, as the Clippers could slip from the fifth spot. Leonard, George, and Westbrook must find a smooth offense early if they want to take down the first seed in the Western Conference.