Whicker: Nuggets make history, Clippers flunk chemistry

Fourteen months after it was declared, the Basketball Battle of L.A. is over.

The Lakers won without firing a shot. It was easier to watch the Clippers miss theirs.

Sure, it was conceivable that the Clippers wouldn’t win the NBA title, since they still haven’t been to the Western Conference Finals in 50 years of occasionally trying.

What nobody suspected is that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers’ prize signings of July 2019, would be spectators at their own demise.

The Clippers’ house of assumptions disappeared into a Florida sinkhole Tuesday. They were even more fragile in their 104-89 Game 7 loss to the remarkable Denver Nuggets than they were in Games 5 and 6, when they were blown out by a total of 47 points in the two second halves. They lost the third and fourth quarters by 17 this time.

They played without a theme, failed to finish maybe a dozen 2-footers, and accepted their fate with few bangs and no whimpers.

You can only conclude that they lost to a better team. If you are suffering major fan remorse over the fact that the Clippers won’t play the Lakers in the Western final,  think how the Lakers must feel.


Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) scores against the Denver Nuggets during the first half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

“We had great shots all night,” coach Doc Rivers said. “I still didn’t think we trusted each other. Denver went through stretches like that, too. But they just kept playing. You could see us trusting less and less.

“On nights like that you hope you can lean on your defense. Even though numbers say we’re a good defensive team, we just never realized that from our group.”

The Clippers looked like a team that failed to plan, which means they essentially planned to fail.

They never established a thing offensively. The Nuggets roped-a-doped Leonard and made sure they didn’t foul him. Of all the statistical wreckage, the ugliest for L.A. was the total of free throw attempts by their best players. George had one, Leonard none.

That’s far worse than combining to miss 28 of 38 field goal attempts, which they also did. Leonard had averaged 7.8 FTAs in the previous 12 playoff games.

The Clippers were down by 13 in the fourth quarter, still with time, when Leonard found Nikola Jokic, and his four fouls, guarding him. Instead of taking him to the paint, Leonard passed off to Marcus Morris, whose first-quarter touch had long deserted him.

George was even worse. After JaMychal Green’s dunk attempt ricocheted into the backcourt, George fetched it and then threw it away. It took the Clippers seven-and-a-half minutes to get their first field goal in the fourth quarter, and that was with Jokic on the bench, nursing fouls. It barely mattered: Jokic had already written a triple-double across the sky: 16 points, 22 rebounds, 13 assists.

“We just got cold,” George said. “We tried to make them make turnovers and they did a good job of playing right through that.”

Defensively the Clippers continued to double-team Jokic, and Murray raged for 25 first-half points on 11-for-17 shooting. The best passers, and indeed the best players, are too good to double-team. They’ve seen that gambit all their lives. They certainly have no trouble with the obligatory doubles the Clippers were throwing out there, with inactive hands and weak rotations. The Clippers never even made Denver consider a Plan B.

Now the Nuggets prep for the Lakers, with Game 1 on Friday. They are the first NBA team to wipe out two 3-1 deficits in the same playoff season. This was also the fourth seven-game series in their past two seasons. Jokic has earned international praise for his extraordinary passing, but he has teammates who share his wavelength. They move confidently to the sweetest spots.

The Clippers, with plenty of garbage time to hone their spin, said that was the ultimate difference.

“We need to get smarter,” Leonard said. “We need to build some chemistry. When you’ve played together for a while, they know the exact places where everybody is, and it makes it easier.”

The problem with that, of course, is that the Lakers were asked to become a supergroup just as quickly. They came together as smoothly as Blind Faith.

Rivers pointed out that Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley all missed significant time in the bubble itself, and somehow that bled into their conditioning.

“We had guys asking to come out in the middle of Game 7,” Rivers said, “and I had to do it.”

But it wasn’t the Game 7 that was promised, two Julys ago.

“This was not a championship-or-bust year,” George said before walking away. His words, at least, were shooting 50%.

 

 

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Clippers vs. Nuggets live updates: Game 6 from the NBA bubble

The Los Angeles Clippers face the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals at 10 a.m., Sunday (ESPN). The Clippers lead the series 3-2.

We’ll have live updates from pregame through the final postgame press conference, featuring sports reporters from the Southern California News Group and the Denver Post.

A Twitter List by JHWreporter

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Clippers vs. Nuggets live updates: Game 5 from the NBA bubble

The Los Angeles Clippers face the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday (TNT). The Clippers lead the series 3-1.

We’ll have live updates from pregame through the final postgame press conference, featuring sports reporters from the Southern California News Group and the Denver Post.

A Twitter List by JHWreporter

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Clippers’ Marcus Morris Sr. relishes time with wife and son in the bubble

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. — Marcus Morris Sr. and Marcus Morris Jr. were reunited in the NBA bubble on Thursday — a win before the win for the Clippers’ hard-nosed, big-hearted forward, who contributed some stellar defense and 18 points to the Clippers’ 120-97 victory over Denver in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

“It was amazing,” Morris said of being reunited with his young son and wife, Amber, who is expecting the couple’s second son at the end of the month. “That was one thing that was missing here.”

The two additional members of Morris’ family are among 30 Clippers’ family members who are expected to complete quarantine and join players in the bubble by Friday.

Morris said with his wife expecting so soon, she and their son will stay only until Tuesday — but even the short visit means a ton to the 31-year-old Philadelphian, who said he insisted they drive from their house in Boca Raton to the bubble as soon as a doctor cleared it.

“I haven’t seen them actually in three months because I was in L.A. with the team and doing my quarantine there, so I wasn’t able to see them,” Morris said. “And she’s not doing too much, just laying up. And I had to see my family.”

Before heading to the bubble, Morris spent time with his twin brother Markieff — of the Lakers — in L.A., playing video games and some one-on-one, as well as spending time with his sister-in-law and his niece, Jyzelle. In the bubble, the Morris brothers find each other for meals and conversation.

On Thursday, Morris was thrilled to have a few quality moments with his son, too. Prior to the game, Amber handed young Marcus to his dad on the court for a pregame embrace.

“Ah, man. It was special,” Morris said. “That’s my first child. I grew up without a father, so I felt like I was made for fatherhood and I enjoy it, man.”

Morris said soon after arriving in the bubble that he plans to leave for the birth of his second son.

“I have another boy coming and I think it’s a big privilege for me, other than playing this game of basketball,” he said Thursday, tipping his hat to Amber. “I’m excited, she’s a great mother. I’m the lucky one to have her.”

Some VIPs in the gym tonight, including a special fan of Marcus Morris Sr.’s. (📹: @kylegoon) pic.twitter.com/ybDSrItOEa

— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) September 4, 2020

How nice is it to have family in the bubble?

Marcus Morris Sr.: “It’s amazing.” pic.twitter.com/RvwChpGyXz

— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) September 4, 2020

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Clippers vs. Mavericks Game 6 playoff updates from NBA beat reporters

The Clippers’ quest to bring a championship back to Los Angeles continues tonight with Game 6 of the first round series against the Dallas Mavericks in Florida.

Mavericks (2-3) vs. Clippers (3-2)

When: 12:30 p.m. PST Sunday

Where: Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, ESPN

Can’t watch the game? Follow our live updates feed below.

A Twitter List by JHWreporter

 

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Video: Clippers’ Doc Rivers delivers emotional message on Jacob Blake shooting

The Clippers took a 3-2 series lead against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the first round playoff series.

During the post game press conference, it was a question about police shooting Jacob Blake that led to an emotional speech.

“It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back,” Rivers said.

On Sunday, police in Kenosha, Wis., shot Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back while responding to a call about a domestic dispute.

Blake’s father said the shooting has left his son paralyzed.


MORE: Clippers’ Doc Rivers pleads for justice and change in emotional postgame comments


“It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.”

Doc Rivers delivers an emotional message on the police shooting of Jacob Blake. pic.twitter.com/A0T26OfsDG

— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 26, 2020

Doc Rivers: “My dad was a cop. I believe in good cops. We’re not trying to defund them and take all their money away. We’re trying to get them to protect us, just like they protect everybody else.” https://t.co/dRDCvKed7J

— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) August 26, 2020

Powerful comments tonight from an emotional @DocRivers, who says #RNC2020 is just “spewing fear…we’re the ones getting killed, we’re the ones getting shot…It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.” #JacobBlake https://t.co/PkFsKxIsij

— SovernNation (@SovernNation) August 26, 2020

Thank you for this Doc ! So powerful and nothing but facts! My prayers go out to Jacob & his family, and to the ones on the frontlines in Kenosha demanding justice ! https://t.co/GaQe8pnkbR

— klay thompson (@KlayThompson) August 26, 2020

Glenn Anton Rivers speaking the truth.

This is leadership. Thank you, Doc! https://t.co/eNotdoteOn

— E. Spencer Kyte (@spencerkyte) August 26, 2020

 

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Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — For each of Damian Lillard’s 42 points on Thursday night, the moment that might most define his utter desperation to keep the Portland Trail Blazers’ season alive came on defense.

After missing a shot, Lillard attacked on defense as the Brooklyn Nets brought the ball up court. He dove for the deflection and managed to find C.J. McCollum for a short jumper with 53 seconds left.

That tiny bit of defense in a track meet turned out to produce the game-winning points in a 134-133 victory for Portland, won by the slimmest of margins. A sieve-like Portland defense had to wait and watch Caris LeVert’s last-second game-winning attempt fly overhead … before bouncing off the rim.

The win assured the Trail Blazers the eighth spot in Saturday’s play-in game against the Memphis Grizzlies. They only need to beat the banged-up Grizzlies once (Memphis needs to beat them twice) to advance to a first-round date with the Lakers in the 1 vs. 8 series that begins Tuesday night.

After the game, Lillard hinged over and rested his hands on his knees.

“(Expletive), I was tired,” he said wearily. “I played the whole second half. I was like, ‘Please miss, please get the rebound.’ ”

The Lakers have winning records this season against both of their potential opponents. They went 2-1 against Memphis and 2-1 against Portland. But they haven’t taken the court against those teams in the restart, which they’ve largely agreed is closer to a new season than a continuation of the 2019-20 campaign.

Lillard has been the star of the “new” season, leading the bubble in scoring and notching 154 points in Portland’s last three games, all wins. Said Coach Terry Stotts: “And we needed every one of them.”

LeVert’s shot had a more profound effect on a team that could only watch: The Phoenix Suns, who had morphed into the feel-good team of the bubble, were swept out of contention.

The bubble’s seeming team of destiny did all it could to be in the playoff picture. With a 128-102 win over the Dallas Mavericks, they finished a perfect 8-0 in the bubble to climb to the cusp from 13th place, six games back when the season went on hiatus. Devin Booker scored 25 points and the Suns shot 41 percent from 3-point range.

Their game took place in AdventHealth Arena, the same venue the Nets and Trail Blazers played in afterward. As the Nets headed to the locker room, the Phoenix players cheered their arrival and asked them to win one to complete their Cinderella journey.

“I’m proud of this group regardless,” Booker said. “We could have had a different approach to this bubble, to this opportunity. But we didn’t. We stayed locked in.”

The Grizzlies saved their best for last and saved their season in the process. They pounded the Milwaukee Bucks, 119-106, leading by double digits the entire second half. Milwaukee was without Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a suspension for a headbutt, but every other key player put in respectable minutes.

Still they could not contain Jonas Valancius (26 points, 19 rebounds, 12 assists) and Ja Morant (12 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists), who became the first teammates in Memphis franchise history to record triple-doubles in the same game. Dillon Brooks led Memphis with 31 points, carving up Milwaukee’s vaunted defense with midrange and long-range shooting.

It came just at the right time. The Grizzlies had to win to be in the play-in game after squandering their entire three-game lead by losing six of their first seven games. First-year coach Taylor Jenkins topped mentor Mike Budenholzer, and was plenty relieved about it.

“That’s the resiliency, that’s what we talk about so much with this group,” he said. “They were the first ones to say today, ‘Why did we wait until Game 8 to start playing Grizzlies basketball?’ ”

The Grizzlies did not allow themselves much celebration on the court as time ran out, but after several quiet minutes, shouting and whooping could be heard from their locker room.

The team decided the game ball should go to Valanciunas, whose previous career-high assist mark was five. He told Southern California New Group that he couldn’t recall recording a triple-double at any level of basketball.

“That was my first triple-double, so definitely going to keep that ball for a long time,” he said. “Show my kids that daddy did it.”

At the bottom of the race, one of the NBA’s most hallowed streaks finally ended. After 22 straight years in the playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs were eliminated before they even lost to the Utah Jazz on Thursday afternoon. Gregg Popovich, 71, will miss the postseason for just the second time in his career, winning five championships in the intervening years.

But the often hard-edged coach showed a shade of grace in his quiet exit, hastened by losing LaMarcus Aldridge during the hiatus to season-ending surgery and finalized by the Blazers’ and Suns’ hot streaks. For a dynasty that was built on Hall of Fame careers from David Robinson to Tim Duncan, Popovich let the ending pass quietly.

“Looking at the past doesn’t do much good,” Popovich told reporters. “Any success we’ve had has been because we’ve had some great players.”

There’s been speculation that Popovich may have coached his last season. The oldest active NBA head coach also leads USA Basketball, which could have its hands full next year with the delayed Olympics. When a reporter attempted to ask if his retirement was imminent, Popovich flashed back to his old self.

“Are you trying to flatter me?” he quipped.

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Clippers can’t catch Nets in loss

  • Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert, left, battles for the ball with Los Angeles Clippers guard Reggie Jackson, right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers kneel during the national anthem before an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

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  • Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) and Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) go up for the opening tip of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. (31) shoots over Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris (12) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is defended by Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris (12) shoots against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams, left, and Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) chase the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) dunks the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) is defended by Los Angeles Clippers forward JaMychal Green (4) and guard Lou Williams (23) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Rodney McGruder (19) dribbles against Brooklyn Nets forward Rodions Kurucs (00) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Rodney McGruder (19) shoots against the Brooklyn Nets in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) dribbles the ball against Los Angeles Clippers guard Reggie Jackson (1) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers looks on against the Brooklyn Nets in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris (left) is knocked down by Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Brooklyn Nets guard Chris Chiozza (4) shoots against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Brooklyn Nets forward Rodions Kurucs (00) dunks next to Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dribbles the ball past Brooklyn Nets forward Rodions Kurucs (00) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Brooklyn Nets forward Rodions Kurucs (00) dunks next to Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) dribbles the ball while defended by Los Angeles Clippers guard Landry Shamet (20) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

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The Clippers’ priorities entering their final seeding games in the bubble are clear, Coach Doc Rivers said, first comes rhythm and rest, and then comes winning.

The rhythm was chaotic to start Sunday, Kawhi Leonard didn’t get much rest throughout, and, in the end, Brooklyn won 129-120. The Nets fended off a shorthanded Clippers squad whose search for continuity continues in this latter chapter of an interrupted season.

In what was the sixth of eight seeding games for both teams Sunday, the Nets (34-36) built a big buffer early, bolting to a 45-24 lead at the end of the opening period, the second-highest scoring first quarter in their franchise’s history.

The Clippers (47-23) kept coming, though, shrinking a 21-point lead to 10 before heading into the half trailing, 74-63.

And then a motivated Leonard cleaned up the whole mess.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP single-handedly outscored the Nets 11-0 to start the third quarter and tied the game 74-74 in the process.

“We definitely got to be in a better rhythm,” Leonard said after the game, via Zoom. “Guys have been in and out of the lineup, key guys. Still waiting on Trezz (Montrezl Harrell) to get back, you know what I mean?”

Rivers said that though there was nothing he could report regarding Harrell’s plans to rejoin the team following the death of his grandmother, he offered, “We hope so. That’s all I can say.”

Without Harrell, as well as star forward Paul George (rest) and Patrick Beverley (sore calf), Leonard kept the Clippers in it, though they only ever pulled even and not in front.

After resting in Saturday’s substitute-fueled victory over Portland, Leonard played 37 minutes Sunday and finished with 39 points, six assists and four steals. He shot 14 of 25 (56.0%) from the field.

“Kawhi was fresh,” Rivers said. “I mean, he felt great.”

In his 1,000th career regular-season game, Lou Williams looked as spry as he has in any game in the bubble, coming off the bench for 18 points in 23 minutes. Marcus Morris Sr. continued his positive momentum from the two games prior with a 15-point effort on 6-of-9 shooting. And rookie guard Terance Mann scored a career-high 14 points in the loss.

Ivica Zubac, the Clippers’ 23-year-old 7-footer, continued his bubble flexing: In 24 minutes, he scored eight points and pulled down a career-high-tying 15 rebounds — the fourth consecutive game he grabbed at 10 rebounds or more, also a career milestone.

Despite those efforts, the Clippers took a step back.

And with the playoffs scheduled to tip off July 17 and their second seed precariously in the balance, that’s not ideal, Rivers said.

“Hopefully we won’t play up and down in the playoffs,” he said. “We definitely have been so far. We have one inspired game, then we don’t.

“Give Brooklyn credit,” he added. “They attacked us. They were clearly the team that had the right approach at the beginning of the game. When you spot someone 20 points, it’s hard to come back from that.”

In that bombastic opening half, the Nets’ and Joe Harris (23 points — a first-half career high) and Carris LeVert (21) combined to account for 44 points on 18 for 22 shooting. Brooklyn shot 67.4% (29 for 43) and 52.0% (13 for 25) from 3-point range.

Fortunately for the Clippers — who were on the back end of a back-to-back pair of contests — their offensive engine was revved too. Led by Leonard — who finished the first half with 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting — they shot 53.3% (24 for 45) in the first 24 minutes.

The second half was a different story: Harris scored only two points after the break, and the Nets scored a more pedestrian 55 points and shot 42.9% (18 for 42). The Clippers posted 57 second-half points and shot 43.8% (21 for 48). Still, by eclipsing 120 points for the 31st time this season, they equaled a franchise best.

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Clippers see silver lining in otherwise sloppy loss to Lakers

The Clippers could take something from their most irregular final regular-season meeting on Thursday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, a 103-101 loss to the Lakers.

“It’s a good lesson for the team,” Coach Doc Rivers said over Zoom. “You can’t make as many mistakes as we made in one game and be shorthanded.”

The “self-inflicted wounds,” as Rivers called them, were plentiful; the NBA game-ready personnel on the Clippers’ bench, not so much.

In its first official action since March 10, the Clippers (44-21) turned over the ball 22 times — one shy of their season high. The Lakers (50-14) converted those giveaways into 29 points.

The Clippers also committed 30 personal fouls — just two short of their season high. The Lakers thanked them by going 28 for 37 from the free-throw line.

Those miscues were too much to overcome without the services of Montrezl Harrell (18.6 points per game) and Lou Williams (18.7), the team’s reliably prolific scoring punch off the bench. (Harrell remains away tending to a family matter, and Williams was sent to his room to quarantine after stopping for chicken wings, he said, at an Atlanta gentlemen’s club while he was outside of the bubble to attend a funeral.)

More than that, the Clippers were incorporating players who’ve only recently joined them in the bubble, either because they’d contracted the coronavirus or because they’d been away dealing with family issues. Rivers warned pregame that the team’s lack of continuity could show and slow down his team.

Of course, figuring out the result of many mistakes + missing or unfamiliar pieces isn’t exactly rocket science, said Paul George, who led the Clippers with 30 points on 11-for-17 shooting.

“I mean, it was clear as day,” he said. “We fouled too much, turned the ball over too much.”

The revelation for the Clippers? That so much could go awry and they still could be in position to pull it out against the Western Conference’s best team.

“The positives are that we had every opportunity to still win the game,” Rivers said. “That would have been a sweet win for us with what our guys have gone through.”

“We fought all night,” surmised Kawhi Leonard, who scored 28 points, had two blocks, two steals and went 11 for 14 from the free-throw line. “Definitely got to get better with some of our execution. Pretty good game.”

WELCOME BACK, PAT BEV

Patrick Beverley gave the Clippers 16 impactful minutes Thursday, despite being listed as “questionable” ahead of the game. Beverley had just finished his quarantine period after returning to deal with a personal matter outside of the bubble.

The 6-foot-1 guard scored 12 points, including, in succession, knocking down a corner 3-pointer and fooled defenders to make space for his floater, cutting the Lakers’ lead to seven points with 6:12 to go.

“It was great. Pat Bev is family,” George said. “I told him after the game his presence was missed. It’s great for us to be in support of him dealing with what he dealt with.”

Got ’em

📺@NBAonTNT | @patbev21 pic.twitter.com/PQNVE5GRdc

— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) July 31, 2020

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Lakers-Clippers live updates: analysis, reaction, stats, scores

The NBA will finally return to the court Thursday night with a double-header in Florida.

Following the game between the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans, the Los Angeles based rivalry continues between the LeBron James led Lakers and Kawhi Leonard led Clippers.

Anthony Davis is expected to play against the Clippers, after participating in Wednesday’s practice. Davis wore protective glasses and missed Tuesday’s practice after he was poked in the eye by Michael Carter-Williams in Saturday’s scrimmage against the Orlando Magic.

Anthony Davis practiced today. Here he is putting up some shots. No sunglasses in sight. pic.twitter.com/T9DXXQlGI3

— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) July 29, 2020

The Lakers also have added a pair of guards in JR Smith and Dion Waiters to the roster during the pandemic-related break, replacing Avery Bradley (who opted out of the season) and Rajon Rondo (injury).

A four-month hiatus and a rocky warm-up ahead of the restart, the team’s focus is on the playoffs.

A four-month hiatus and a rocky warm-up ahead of the restart, the Clippers are trying to focus on the playoffs.

For the Clippers, Joakim Noah is the latest addition to the roster. The veteran center is eager to serve as a stabilizer for new teammates as they weather challenges in and out of the bubble.

Fellow center Ivica Zubac was away, quarantining after being diagnosed with the coronavirus in early July, and recently arrived in Orlando to rejoin the team. Guard Landry Shamet has also returned to the team after a battle with the virus.

Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverly left the bubble for personal reasons and have been listed on the recent injury report.

Clippers injury report before the NBA restart. No surprises. pic.twitter.com/R3svFlXxqL

— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) July 29, 2020

 

Williams (10-day quarantine) and Harrell were ruled out but Beverley remains questionable for the re-opener.

The Lakers got the best of the Clippers in their meeting on March 8 before the season came to a halt.

How to watch:

Game: Lakers (49-14) vs. Clippers (44-20)

When: Today, 6 p.m. PT

Where:  The Arena (Wide World of Sports) – Orlando

TV: TNT, Fox Sports Prime Ticket (Clippers broadcast), Spectrum SportsNet (Lakers broadcast)

Radio: ESPN LA 710 (Lakers broadcast), AM 570 LA SPORTS (Clippers broadcast)

Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.

Twitter Poll:

#NBATwitter POLL: Who wins the re-opener between the Los Angeles Lakers and the LA Clippers?#LakeShow vs. #ClipperNation

— Inside SoCal Sports (@InsideSoCalSpts) July 30, 2020

Listen:

Clippers basketball is BACK back tomorrow. Get ready for the competitive return by listening to the latest episode of @ClipsetPod with special guest @MirjamSwanson!https://t.co/jWIWWzo8JP

— Brian Cullen (@brianscullen) July 29, 2020

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