Clippers blow huge lead, fall to 0-4 with Russell Westbrook
In an enviornment with just a few open seats shy of reaching its 18,064-seat capability Thursday, nobody discovered themselves persistently surrounded by extra room than Clippers guard Russell Westbrook.
From begin to end Golden State dared Westbrook, a 30% three-point shooter this season, to shoot by sagging his, and each different, defender a number of strides away, their ft planted within the paint as Westbrook dribbled atop the three-point arc, exhibiting extra regard for a move or drive than a shot.
The technique of avoidance just isn’t distinctive in Westbrook’s profession, however was employed to this exaggerated extent for the primary time since he joined the Clippers 4 video games in the past, and underscored the problem of spacing with Westbrook, who made three of his 12 pictures, and not one of the seven he tried outdoors the paint, and completed with eight factors and 6 assists in 28 minutes.
Yet as has develop into abundantly clear because the All-Star break ended and a four-game dropping streak started, the newest defeat, a 115-91 loss to Golden State that leaves the Clippers 33-32, the Clippers’ challenges are usually not restricted to discovering the very best makes use of for his or her new level guard.
The urgency “could be better,” star Paul George mentioned, and so might their transition protection, which has was a turnstile following turnovers, one other persistent challenge amid their dropping streak, with 16 turning into 29 Warriors factors.
Offense has not been an issue of late — solely to see them make 9 of their 43 three-pointers in opposition to the Warriors.
When the Clippers play Friday in Sacramento, they are going to be shorthanded once more as a result of Kawhi Leonard mentioned he is not going to swimsuit up as he continues to relaxation on the second night time of back-to-back video games. Guard Norman Powell additionally left the locker room along with his left arm in a sling.
“For us, we just got to stay the course, got to be mentally tough, mentally strong, can’t give in, and just got to be tougher,” coach Tyronn Lue mentioned. “That’s the bottom line. When stuff doesn’t go your way, it shows you what you’re made of and I’m confident that we have a good team and they have to be the same way, they’ve got to feel the same confidence.
“I don’t care about missed shots, it’s going to happen. You’re going to turn the ball over some, but you can’t give in and my thing is just having that toughness and that mindset that, OK, things are not going well, then let’s do something about it.”
Westbrook was liable for two turnovers, but in addition simply two misses, throughout a game-changing third quarter that noticed the Clippers (33-32) commit extra turnovers (seven) than make discipline objectives (4 for 22), their 16 mixed factors fewer than the 22 scored alone within the quarter by Golden State guard Jordan Poole. The Clippers led by three when Westbrook went to the bench with 6:05 left within the third quarter. The backside continued to fall out from there, the quarter’s closing 10 minutes seeing a 12-point Clippers lead flip right into a 15-point Warriors lead — the third time in 4 video games the Clippers have misplaced double-digit leads.
“Just be aggressive, find ways to be aggressive,” Westbrook mentioned of his counters to the technique. “I thought I did a great job of it in the first half, second half still, we just didn’t make shots. I had opportunities to get up the seam and make plays and anything I needed to do, and I just missed some shots too.”
The bother deepened within the fourt, the deficit rising to 16 after Westbrook overthrew an entry move into the submit, then Poole made his fifth three-pointer on the subsequent possession after George couldn’t chase him round a display screen.
Team proprietor Steve Ballmer watched the collapse from a courtside seat beneath a basket.
Leonard scored 21 factors whereas George made three of his 15 pictures for 11 factors. George made certainly one of his eight three-pointers, Norman Powell shot one for 9 off the bench and Eric Gordon made six of his 16 pictures, together with two of 10 from deep.
“There should be no excuses,” Gordon mentioned. “We got to [have] more attention to detail. To me it’s all on us players and we got to bring it more.”
The Clippers steered out of a six-game dropping streak in January by a lineup change, a spike in power and by drastically decreasing their turnovers. If that blueprint is to work once more, it has to occur quickly – solely 17 video games stay.