Tagged in: Clippers

Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, Paul George power win over Mavericks, seize back control of series

The LA Clippers arrived in Dallas down 0-2 in the series with their future clouded in insecurity, but they left with home-court advantage and momentum thanks to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George playing the relentless style they envisioned when they joined forces.

For the second consecutive game, Leonard and George overwhelmed Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, combining to score 45 points in the first three quarters to help the Clippers even this Western Conference first-round playoff series at 2-2 with a 106-81 rout on Sunday at American Airlines Center.

The Mavericks could not contain Leonard for the third straight match, as the All-Star forward made 11-of-15 shots and tallied 29 points and 10 rebounds. And George scored 13 of 20 points in the second quarter, when the Clippers opened a 48-29 lead with 6:58 left before halftime.

“I think we both have just done a great job of complementing each other,” George said of him and Leonard leading the Clippers back into this series. “[Leonard] has been all-out driving and attacking and putting pressure on their bigs at the rim. Myself, as well. When he needs a break and a breather, now I am in attack mode. I think we are just doing a great job of countering each other.

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“This is ultimately what we wanted to get to — being able to share the court together and doing it on both ends together.”

This was what Leonard, George and the Clippers imagined when the two All-Stars became Clippers during the summer of 2019.

Leonard is playing at the postseason level that made him the NBA Finals MVP for a second time when he led the Toronto Raptors to a championship in 2019. He has been simply too strong and powerful for Dallas to stop, averaging 35.3 points in the past three games.

In leading the Clippers to the past two wins in Dallas, Leonard shot 24-for-32 combined in Games 3 and 4, and he has done the majority of his damage on drives into the paint.

But his message to the Clippers after they lost the first two games of the series at home was to step things up considerably on the defensive end.

Doncic labored through a nerve issue in his neck on Sunday and shot 9-for-24 to finish with 19 points, six assists and six rebounds. But the Clippers were thrilled with their ability to slow down the Mavericks’ other shooters who really shot lights out in Los Angeles.

Tim Hardaway Jr. missed 7 of 8 shots and scored just four points, Dorian Finney-Smith only had eight points and the Mavericks as a group missed 25 of 30 3-point attempts in Game 4.

In the first two games of the series, Dallas took home-court advantage by making 35 of 70 (50%) attempts from behind the arc.

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Clippers rout short-handed Lakers 104-86, end 2-game skid

Marcus Morris scored 22 points and the Los Angeles Clippers dominated the short-handed Lakers in a 104-86 triumph on Sunday to end a two-game skid.

Kawhi Leonard had 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Paul George added 16 points for the Clippers.

“We set the tone early defensively, we were physical and got into bodies,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said.

The Lakers trailed the entire game in which they were without injured All-Star duo LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as well as Andre Drummond and Wesley Matthews. They’ve dropped six of nine.

Montrezl Harrell led the Lakers with 19 points against his old team. Marc Gasol was the only starter in double figures with 11 points. Kyle Kuzma’s shooting typified the Lakers’ offensive woes. He was held to six points as one of four starters who combined to shoot 12 of 41.

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“We got to play the right way on the offensive end,” Kuzma said. “Defensively, we’ll be all right. Offensively, we got to find ways to play together. Can’t win games scoring in the 80s and 90s. Got to find ways to incorporate everyone.”

The Clippers built a double-digit lead midway through the second that the Lakers never reduced to single digits the rest of the way.

“Credit the Clippers’ defense,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “They got up into us and we didn’t handle their pressure at all and we had a tough shooting night. We got to play through their pressure and physicality better than we did.”

Five different Clippers powered a 12-3 run to start the third, with George’s 3-pointer capping the spurt that created their largest lead of 24 points. They matched that lead later in the quarter on a 3-pointer by Luke Kennard, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth.

The Clippers stretched their lead to 20 points in the second, running off 10 in a row that ended with back-to-back 3-pointers by Marcus Morris.

The Clippers raced to a 13-2 lead to open the game, making their first six shots. Markief Morris scored the Lakers’ first seven points.

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Ty Lue candidacy for Rockets job gains momentum after monday meeting

Clippers assistant coach Ty Lue’s candidacy for the Rockets’ head-coaching job has gathered significant momentum after a meeting with Houston’s ownership and management Monday, sources told ESPN.

The Rockets are competing with the Clippers for Lue and could try to extend an offer before Los Angeles has completed its search process, but that isn’t likely to happen before Houston meets with former coach Jeff Van Gundy this week, sources said.

Both Lue and Van Gundy are prominent parts of the Rockets’ and Clippers’ coaching searches — and Lue has been the Clippers’ front-runner since Doc Rivers was dismissed on Sept. 28, sources said.

Lue’s candidacy has the support of prominent players on both teams, sources said. Houston had originally wanted to hire Rivers to substitute Mike D’Antoni, sources said, but his talks with the 76ers moved quickly to a resolution.

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Van Gundy, currently an analyst for ESPN, has been a favorite of Rockets ownership and management, and he is known to prefer the idea of coaching in his adopted home city to avoid uprooting his family.

Van Gundy, 58, has been active as a coach with USA Basketball in recent years, but he hasn’t coached in the NBA since the Rockets fired him in 2007.

Van Gundy was 430-318 in the regular season and 44-44 in the postseason in parts of 11 seasons with Rockets and Knicks.

Lue coached the Cavaliers to the only championship in franchise history in 2016 and reached the NBA Finals in three consecutive years. He was fired by Cleveland after an 0-6 start in the 2018-19 campaign. Lue is 128-83 overall and 41-20 in the playoffs.

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Clippers Patrick Beverley to miss some games

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley is “expected to miss a few games” with a right wrist sprain, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Beverley suffered the injury during Saturday’s game versus the Utah Jazz. According to ESPN, X-rays did not reveal a break.

The 31-year-old Beverley is averaging 8.0 points, 3.3 assists and 6.0 rebounds for the Clippers. He has knocked down 41.3 percent of his field goals and 32.8 percent of his three-pointers.

Beverley’s calling cards are his tenacious defense and toughness, and those traits have helped the 23-11 Clips earn their third-place Western Conference mark.

The eight-year veteran out of Arkansas joined the Clippers after the Houston Rockets traded him following five years with the team.

His 2017-18 season started with promise, but he underwent an arthroscopic lateral meniscus repair and a microfracture procedure on his right knee and missed all but 11 matches in 2017-18.

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He returned in 2018-19 and played a big role on a gritty Clippers team that surprised fans post-Lob City Era and ended 48-34 with a playoff berth. L.A. even took the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors to six games in the first round.

Beverley received a three-year, $40 million contract during the offseason and returned to his starting point guard role now flanked by two newly signed superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Injuries have hindered him this season, unfortunately, with a calf injury, a concussion and a groin injury already costing him five games.

The Clips have gone in a few different directions when pressed to find a substitute for him in the starting lineup. 

Sixth man Lou Williams has started at the point for a few games, but head coach Doc Rivers has also opted to keep Sweet Lou in a reserve role and turn to Landry Shamet or Terance Mann instead.

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