Newsom’s budget will make California’s problems worse

With the political maelstroms in Washington D.C., it’s easy to overlook California’s own pressing problems. Recently, Gov. Gavin Newsom submitted his 2021-22 State Budget proposal, which would make California’s troubles go from bad to worse. The $227.2 billion fiscal blueprint increases government unions’ power and wealth, pouring gasoline on California’s myriad public policy fires.

More government spending won’t fix the economic problems facing the state. California has the country’s seventh-highest unemployment rate, with 1.5 million people looking for work. Poverty, economic opportunity, and income inequality are all among the worst in the nation. The state’s strict Covid-19 restrictions have caused immense small business pain for little-to-no apparent gain. Hospitalizations per capita are near the highest in the country, and many ICUs are overrun.

California’s tax and regulatory burden are downright European, making it very difficult for small businesses to stay profitable even at the best of times. Californians earning a mere $59,000 per year face a 9.3 percent tax rate. Yet, Golden State residents get almost nothing in return for their massive tax burdens. Schools are failing (when they’re open), homelessness is out of control, infrastructure resembles the Third World, and first responders are slow to arrive, if they come at all. That’ll get worse to the extent California communities succeed in defunding police.

Electricity rates are among the highest in the nation, and $4 a gallon gas raises everyone’s cost of living. Meanwhile, the green mandates that drive up energy prices haven’t helped the environment, as annual forest fires due to a lack of forest management destroy air quality and decimate entire cities. Recurrent blackouts mean Californians don’t even get reliable energy in return for their high bills.

As a result of this climate, businesses and people are fleeing the state. In recent months, top executives, including Elon Musk, Larry Ellison, and Keith Rabois, have fled, taking tens of billions of economic activity and tax dollars with them. Census figures show that this outmigration isn’t limited to the top 1 percent, with more people moving out than moving in over the last few years.

No wonder there’s a recall effort against Gov. Newsom that’s quickly gaining steam. Even the mainstream media has caught on to the political ramifications of the consequences. “Newsom scrambles to save California — and his career,” reads a recent Politico headline.

Now Gov. Newsom is about to make things worse with a budget that further diverts state resources into government unions’ pockets. California’s government unions already collect nearly one billion dollars annually in dues payments that are partly used to elect politicians who — like Newsom — will do their bidding.

His budget proposal calls for roughly $90 billion in education funding, the highest level in state history. Parents are currently paying for tutoring and supplies that would have otherwise been provided in classrooms. Given that it will be months before teachers return, parents bearing the costs of educating their kids at home might wonder if this is a misdirection of resources.

The budget directs a total of $7 billion in pandemic-related support to schools and students. These funds are in addition to the billions of dollars that California schools have already received in federal aid. Yet classrooms don’t need to resemble hospitals. They can already return with the same added cost-effective precautions seen in the rest of the economy. Newsom’s additional funds are little more than a payoff to teachers unions cajoling them to reopen classrooms.

The budget directs roughly one billion dollars to expand transitional kindergarten, which offers teachers unions an opportunity to further grow their ranks by organizing early childhood educators. The budget press release notes, “The Administration has already begun the collective bargaining process with representatives of child care providers to negotiate a memorandum of understanding that governs the payments made to these providers.”

Californians have more than enough to be concerned about here at home without worrying about what’s going on in Washington, D.C. Gov. Newsom’s budget will only make the problems worse by further empowering government unions responsible for them in the first place.

Will Swaim is the president of the California Policy Center.

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Lakers dismantle Pelicans in second half for fifth straight win

  • The Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma knocks a rebound away from the Pelicans’ Josh Hart during Friday’s game at Staples Center. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) moves the ball up court as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Montrezl Harrell (15) looks to pass as the Pelicans’ Nicolo Melli (20) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) looks to pass as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram (14) shoots as the Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) grabs a rebound away from the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans offensive foul on Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram (14) fouls the Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) on his way to the hoop during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Montrezl Harrell (15) dunks the ball during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots as Pelicans’ Nicolo Melli (20) and Eric Bledsoe (5) defend during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) blocks the shot of the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Dennis Schroder (17) dives for a loose ball as the Pelicans’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis shoots during Friday’s game against the Pelicans at Staples Center. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Dennis Schroder (17) passes the ball as the Pelicans’ Eric Bledsoe (5) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) passes the ball during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) wipes his face during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) blocks the shot of the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) attempts to keep the ball inbounds as the Lakers’ LeBron James (23) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) dunks the ball during their NBA game against the Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots a 3-point shot as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Head coach Frank Vogel watches play against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers keep the ball from Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans pivots around Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans scores on a layup during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans loses his dribble as Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers falls during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores over Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket past Eric Bledsoe #5 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers dives for the ball in front of Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans and LeBron James #23 during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores in front of Nicolo Melli #20 and Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles in front of Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans is fouled by LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers as he drives on Markieff Morris #88 during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a play with Montrezl Harrell #15 and Dennis Schroder #17 during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a basket with Anthony Davis #3 and Alex Caruso #4 during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) dunks during the first quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) deflects a shot by New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) tries to take the ball from Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroeder, left, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) reaches for a rebound between forward Zion Williamson (1) and Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, right, defends against Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, top, and New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) air their differences during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli, left, and center Steven Adams (12) defend against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroeder, right, defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers steals a pass at center court during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a three pointer from LeBron James #23 after a timeout during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a three pointer from LeBron James #23 during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks up at a replay during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans gets position in front of LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores on a layup around Nicolo Melli #20 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers blocks the shot of Kira Lewis Jr. #13 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles in front of Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans attempts a shot in front of Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket in front of Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers keep the ball from Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans passes in front of Anthony Davis #3 and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) dunks against New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli, center, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell dunks during the fourth quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Kira Lewis Jr. goes to the basket as Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) and center Montrezl Harrell (15) defend during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell (15) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson dunks during the third quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell (15) defends during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Kira Lewis Jr. (13) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Head coach Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as LeBron James #23 leaves the game during a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers gives an interview after a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers gives an interview after a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES — The Lakers have looked a lot like frontrunners lately, riding a winning streak that saw them ring up several blowouts on the road. How, then, would they respond to a youthful team out-shooting them and out-defending them to take a 15-point lead?

With plenty of patience.

As the visiting New Orleans Pelicans got out to an explosive start at Staples Center on Friday night, the Lakers steadily hung in, then crept back – first in the margins, then finally, overwhelmingly in the third quarter when the dam broke with a 15-0 run on the way to a 112-95 victory, the Lakers’ fifth straight.

LeBron James (21 points), of course, provided the crowning moment of the rally with a highlight-reel putback dunk. The power in his legs still belies his 36 years, but the steadiness with which he and the Lakers (11-3) handled their upstart competitors and their young stars, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, spoke to how much experience separates these teams.

“There is no saving something for later in the season,” James laughed afterward. “My body’s ready to play whatever I need to play over the course of the game. I go hard when I’m out there and I start my treatment after the game. So, I wish I could bank time.”

The league-leading Lakers can certainly bank wins.

The Pelicans were rocked in the second half on every level, scoring just 37 points after halftime while finding their sturdy first-half defense torn apart: The Lakers’ passing prowess netted them 31 assists on 39 field goals on the night, led by James’ 11. Six Lakers scored in double figures, including Anthony Davis (17 points) and Montrezl Harrell (16 points).

From the 6:40 mark of the third quarter until there were 55 seconds remaining, New Orleans couldn’t score at all. The Lakers came out of a timeout with fadeaway shots from James and center Marc Gasol, and from then it was off to the races.

It looked different than the dominant three-game road trip when the Lakers hung big early leads on the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. Davis said the team might have been dragging from getting back home, where they are just 4-3.

“It can kinda wear on you a little bit and get you off on a slow start,” he said. “We overcame it tonight.”

It was a dramatically different tone from the start of the night, when the Lakers were a Davis free throw shy of their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season. They missed seven of their first 24 shots, getting just 20 points.

On the other side of the ball, they held the wrecking ball-body of Williamson (21 points) in check with double-teams in the paint. They had fewer answers for Ingram, the former Laker, who diced them up from all over the floor with jumpers and drives. He scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half.

The Lakers began to turn things around in the second quarter at the free-throw line, warming up what had been cold hands. Davis found his stroke after missing eight of his first 10 attempts from the field, and between the stripe and a few jumpers, the former Pelican scored nine of the last 14 points of the first half.

Dennis Schröder hit a banked-in floater to cut the margin to a single point at halftime, despite the fact that New Orleans shot 61 percent in the first half to the Lakers’ 40 percent. But Coach Frank Vogel said it was Schröder’s steals in the second quarter that truly gave the team the spark.

“The fight that he showed picking up full court, getting those two turnovers, really creating some havoc for their offense, really positioned us to do what we did in the second half,” Vogel said. “It’s a one-point game at halftime; it could’ve been a 10-, 15-point differential.”

The shooting gap was almost completely made up in the Lakers’ advantages in the turnover margin (plus-11 at the half) and at the free-throw line (20 Laker attempts to three for the Pelicans). The Lakers wound up with 12 fewer turnovers and 15 more made free throws in the game.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (16 points) capped a strong week returning from injury with his best shot-making performance yet. Among his four 3-pointers on the evening, the third quarter saw him nail one while falling to the court, sealing his claim as the most reliable deep threat on the team. He moved up to ninth all-time in franchise history with 423 3-pointers as a Laker.

Still, on a team shooting the NBA’s third-best percentage from 3-point range (39.6 percent), there is competition. Kyle Kuzma hit three, Alex Caruso hit three, and James hit two. James might still have a case as the best overall shooter on the team, given he’s the only one regularly allowed to pull up from the logo.

“LeBron’s always gonna be up there because he shoots a ton of them, especially when he gets hot, and starts shooting halfcourt and things like that,” Davis said. “I don’t think Coach will maybe allow Kenny to do that.”

For now, the most compelling competition remains between the Lakers themselves –not against the rest of the league.

👑@KingJames powers the @Lakers to an NBA-best 11-3. #LakeShow

21 PTS | 8 REB | 11 AST pic.twitter.com/0RQX0hSNaN

— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2021

LeBron 🔨 in #PhantomCam.

LAL/GSW ⏩ Mon. (1/18), 10pm/et, TNT pic.twitter.com/0Y8KzVpnKT

— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2021

“My body is ready to play.”@KingJames on how he feels at age 36, playing limited minutes and the #Lakers performance down the stretch. pic.twitter.com/bVv5kECgKm

— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) January 16, 2021

🚫 AD says NO on ESPN! 🚫pic.twitter.com/jnULvJ9r3L

— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2021

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Clippers shoot their way past short-handed Pelicans

  • Clippers center Serge Ibaka blocks a shot by the Pelicans’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker during the second half of Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans battles Marcus Morris Sr. #8 of the LA Clippers for a rebound during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives past Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans lays up a shot past the defense of Serge Ibaka #9 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans pushes Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans attempts to dribble past the defense of Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles into the defense of Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles into the defense of Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers defends against a shot by Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers defends against a shot by Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Nicolo Melli #20 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots past the defense of Nicolas Batum #33 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots past the defense of Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles past Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles past Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers passes past Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles past Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans defends against a dribbling Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans defends against Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans defends against Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers pushes back on the defense of Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers attempts to dunk over the defense of Nicolo Melli #20 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans defends against a shot by Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Ivica Zubac #40 and Luke Kennard #5 of the LA Clippers defend against a pass by JJ Redick #4 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2, Ivica Zubac #40 and Marcus Morris Sr. #8 of the LA Clippers defend against Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers defends against a shot by Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers makes a shot past the defense of Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers dribbles into the defense of Steven Adams #12 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers battles JJ Redick #4 of the New Orleans Pelicans for a rebound during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 13: Steven Adams #12 and Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans attempt to stop Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
    (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) defends against New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) shoots next to Los Angeles Clippers center Serge Ibaka (9) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum (33) defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Sindarius Thornwell (15) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) shoots against Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (21) blocks a shot by New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes, center, during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) defends. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac, rear, defends against New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) makes a 3-pointer against New Orleans Pelicans guard Sindarius Thornwell (15) at the end of the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George, top right, is congratulated after his 3-pointer at the end of the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) shoots past Los Angeles Clippers center Serge Ibaka (9) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots between New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) and center Steven Adams (12) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) defends against Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) defends against Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, right, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) defends against Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center Serge Ibaka, top right, defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots as New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) defends during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick (4) passes the ball over Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) and guard Luke Kennard (5) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) dunks during the fourth quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Sindarius Thornwell (15) defends against Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Pelicans center Steven Adams, rear, hugs Clippers guard Paul George after Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. The two used to be teammates in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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LOS ANGELES — The Staples Center stage was set up for a clash of styles and, on Wednesday night, a stark difference of fortunes.

Fully staffed at the outset, the favored Clippers avoided the trappings of life against an undermanned underdog, getting past a pesky New Orleans Pelicans team that was down three starters, including superstar sophomore Zion Williamson.

“When you have a lot of talent sometimes, you can fall victim to that, but we just got to make sure we’re just taking advantage of every day, every game, every practice and trying to get better,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said before his team’s 111-106 victory.

“Our main focus,” Lue insisted, “is us getting better each night, not about the opponent.”

That “professional focus,” as Lue termed it, has been a willed skill that’s required nurturing, to hear Ivica Zubac tell it.

“We come out with the same mindset,” the center said, before revising that statement slightly: “We try to come out with the same mindset – ever since that Dallas game (a franchise-worst 51-point loss).

“We know we’re going to get the best shot from every team, every night and we’re prepared for it. … I think we got better at that from last year, but we can still be better at that.”

It won’t hurt to lodge victories such as Wednesday’s against the Pelicans, who, despite being shorthanded, played their part admirably.

Coach Stan Van Gundy’s squad dominated the boards, 48-36 – fully in character for the team that showed up Wednesday with a league-best rebounding percentage of 54.1 percent.

The Pelicans also did their requisite damage in the paint, outscoring their hosts down low, 52-20.

And they got a boost from second-year guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who flourished in his first start of the season, leading the Pelicans with 37 points (on 15-for-23 shooting) and eight rebounds, both career highs.

But those areas of success weren’t enough against the NBA’s top 3-point shooting team (L.A. is shooting 42.9 percent from deep), which continued to drive, kick and connect from distance – going 18 for 37 against New Orleans.

“I just think taking the right 3s, playing the right way, is the biggest thing for us,” said Lue, whose players excelled at setting up one another Wednesday, assisting on 26 of their 35 made baskets. “We really had the ball hopping tonight early on and we still had some possessions in the second half where the ball was moving as well. We just got to continue to play in the right way through the game.”

While the Pelicans (4-6) shot 10 for 28 from deep, half of the Clippers’ shots originated from behind the arc, and six Clippers connected on multiple 3s. George was responsible for five of them – the ninth time this season he’s hit four or more in a game and the seventh time he made at least five.

“Just shooting it with confidence and really just knowing the shots I’ma get, so I knew what to look for, I know what to expect, I know how the shots are coming,” George said.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 28 points and nine assists, and George weaved his way through New Orleans’ defense for a typically pretty assortment of baskets, scoring 27 points on shot-making that included a fourth-quarter layup, flipped off the top of the backboard, as well as the 3-pointer as time expired in the first half.

That first-half-finishing trey punctuated a 21-4 run and ended with George falling backward into the arms of Serge Ibaka, who wrapped him in a bear hug and carried him off the court, their lead 18 points.

With the Clippers feeling thinner in the second half, when Lou Williams sat with a sore hip, the Pelicans closed to within 89-85 with 8:11 to go – but L.A. used its long-range skills to nudge the door closed.

Patrick Beverley’s third 3-pointer recreated some distance and Leonard’s first 3-pointer (of two) shortly thereafter made it 97-87, and had team owner Steve Ballmer whipping his right arm in the air from his seat next to the basket.

The Clippers ran a rotation of defenders at Brandon Ingram, last season’s Most Improved Player awardee, and he finished with 22 points on 8-for-19 shooting.

In addition to Williamson (ruled out because of inconclusive coronavirus test results), the Pelicans were missing Lonzo Ball (bilateral knee tendinopathy) and Eric Bledsoe (right eye irritation). Together, the trio accounts for 46.1 points and 15.6 rebounds per game.

The victory was the Clippers’ second in a row, breaking a seven-game, win-one-lose-one pattern they’d been mired in since their 128-105 victory over Portland on Dec. 30.

“Games like this are dangerous, when key guys are out,” Lue said. “Sometimes, you let your guard down. I thought the first half we really didn’t, I thought we really did a good job of coming out with a professional focus.”

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Alabama’s DeVonta Smith, in just a half, wasn’t half bad

By TIM REYNOLDS

The Associated Press

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — DeVonta Smith did not catch a single pass after halftime. He didn’t have to, either.

He’d done plenty.

The Heisman Trophy-winning receiver from Alabama put his stamp all over the College Football Playoff championship game in the first two quarters, and the Crimson Tide are national champions once again. Smith had 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns – all those scores coming in the second quarter – to lead the Tide past Ohio State, 52-24, on Monday night.

“Last year, they said the dynasty was over,” Smith said. “We don’t stop. We just keep reloading.”

He won everything there was to win this season: the national title, the Heisman, and became the first FBS player since Michael Crabtree in 2007 to lead the nation in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

And after winning Offensive Player-of-the-Game honors on Monday, next stop, the NFL.

“Unbelievable,” Smith said in the on-field interview, as garnet confetti littered the field. “We just finished writing our story. That was the whole thing of us coming back, just finishing the story that we wanted to write. And we did that.”

Smith left in the third quarter, a towel draped over his right hand, covering what was later revealed to be a dislocated finger. Smith stopped on his way into the Alabama locker room to gaze at a television mounted high over the left side of the entrance, checking out one of the countless Crimson Tide highlights of the evening.

He was responsible for plenty of them.

“Smitty, obviously, had a great half,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

Smith had five catches that went for more than 15 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown that pushed Alabama’s lead to 35-17 just before halftime. He doesn’t so much run as glides; consider, on one of his touchdowns Monday night, he evaded a defender, the end zone pylon, three photographers and a crane holding a camera – all on the same play, and made it all look easy, just like the Tide did pretty much all night.

“We couldn’t quite keep up,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.

After getting hurt, Smith returned to the sideline with his hand heavily bandaged, wearing sweats and a mask with the Heisman logo. His night and college career were over, even though he tried to talk his way back onto the field. But he wasn’t going to miss the celebration and knew his teammates would finish the job.

“I just believed in them from the jump,” Smith said. “That’s what we do. That’s why you come to ’Bama.’

Alabama fans who were at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, ooh-ed and aah-ed every time he touched the ball, just as they did two years ago when he came to that same stadium and put on a show in the Orange Bowl to help the Tide past Oklahoma and into the CFP title game that season. They lost that matchup to Clemson, denying the Tide back-to-back national titles.

Smith has that second ring now, to go with the one he helped secure as a freshman when he caught the game- and title-winning pass from Tua Tagovailoa in overtime as Alabama topped Georgia for the 2017 season’s national championship.

And now, one of the questions until the NFL draft will be whether he and Tagovailoa reunite. The Dolphins – Tagovailoa’s team – have the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft, and if Smith is still on the board it’s hard to imagine him not getting taken there by a team that won 10 games this season yet still missed the playoffs and is in need of a play-making wideout.

When they talk about how Alabama navigated an SEC-only schedule during the COVID-19 season without a loss and won another national championship, some names will likely come to mind with ease.

Smith, of course, will be there. So will Saban, unquestionably the most successful coach of his time. As will Najee Harris, who set the Crimson Tide single-season touchdown record with 30 scores.

And it would be a shame if they forgot quarterback Mac Jones, who bided his time behind Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts before finally getting the keys to the Alabama offense in 2020 – only to lead the nation in passing yards and passing efficiency, finish second in touchdown passes and cap it all off with a 464-yard, five-touchdown, record-setting performance in the title game.

“To me, this is the ultimate team,” Saban said.

In Saban’s mind, Smith was that team’s ultimate competitor.

For all Harris did, for all Jones did, it was a skinny kid from Louisiana who was the best player in the country, the best player on the field in the season’s ultimate game – putting up all his numbers in just one half of work.

“Heavens knows what he would have done if he played the whole game,” Saban said.

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California board urges bias reviews of police social media

By DON THOMPSON

SACRAMENTO — California police agencies should routinely review officers’ social media, cellphones and computers for racist, bigoted or other offensive content that contributes to disproportionate police stops of Black people, a state advisory board said Monday.

The controversial recommendation comes from community and law enforcement representatives who analyzed nearly 4 million vehicle and pedestrian stops by California’s 15 largest law enforcement agencies in 2019.

The Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board report was unveiled amid calls to defund police and promises from state lawmakers to renew efforts to strip badges from bad officers, make more police misconduct records public, and allow community groups to handle mental health and drug calls where police powers may not be needed.

People who were perceived as Black were more than twice as likely to be stopped as their percentage of the population would suggest, the board said in its fourth annual report.

Black people also had the highest proportion of their stops (21%) for reasonable suspicion, while the most common reason for stops of people of all races was traffic violations. Black people were searched at 2.5 times the rate of people perceived as white.

And the odds were 1.45 times greater that someone perceived as Black had force used against them during a traffic stop compared to someone perceived as white. The odds were 1.18 times greater for people perceived as Latino.

Reform efforts have often focused on increasing training to make officers aware of how their implicit, or unconscious, bias may affect their interactions. Starting this year, a new law also requires agencies to screen job applicants for implicit and explicit biases.

“Unchecked explicit bias may lead to some of the stop data disparities we have observed,” the board said.

Explicitly racist or bigoted social media posts by some law enforcement officers appear to be a widespread problem nationwide, it said, citing a study by the Plain View Project that examined the Facebook accounts of 2,900 active and 600 retired officers in eight departments across the country.

In California, current and former San Jose Police Department officers were found to have shared racist Facebook posts. Other agencies, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and San Francisco Police Department, have been involved in similar issues.

The board recommended that agencies review employees’ social media posts and routinely check officers’ department-issued cellphones and computers to make sure they aren’t showing racist or other problematic behavior.

Betty Williams, president the NAACP’s Sacramento Branch, said the recommendation doesn’t go far enough and should also include officers’ personal cellphones.

Police departments “demand fair and impartial police services for the communities they serve,” responded Chief Eric Nuñez, president of the California Police Chiefs Association. But he said checking officers’ cellphones, computers and social media accounts “would require a significant additional funding source, time and legal issues that have not been properly identified or researched at this point.”

The disproportionate numbers could be driven by demographics, not racism, the Los Angeles Police Protective League board of directors said in a statement.

“What these numbers don’t tell is that in Los Angeles, 70% of violent crime victims are either Black or Hispanic and that 81% of the reported violent crime suspects are either Black or Hispanic,” the league said.

Both the league and the state sheriffs’ association said the broader issue of racial bias must be addressed across society, not just law enforcement.

“Law enforcement agencies across California have embraced change, participated in training, and engaged their local communities on this topic and we will continue to do so,” said Kings County Sheriff David Robinson, president of the sheriffs’ association.

“We’ve done all of the reformist things,” countered Cat Brooks, executive director of Justice Teams Network and co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project. “We’ve done trainings, we’ve done body cameras, we’ve done police commissions, we’ve hired from the community. All of these things to tinker around the edges of this very large problem, but really what we’ve been doing is putting Band-Aids on gunshot wounds.”

She said the report’s findings show the need for a “complete transformation” from an emphasis on police and prisons to one focused on addressing root community causes such as hunger and homelessness.

The report’s data is little changed from a year ago when stops involving the state’s eight largest agencies were studied for the second half of 2018, before the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other police killings of primarily Black and Latino men sparked nationwide protests and reform efforts last year.

It shows “there is significant work to be done to prevent further disparities in who is stopped, how they are treated when stopped, and the outcomes of those stops,” the board said.

Black people make up 7% of the population but were involved in 16% of California stops in 2019. Those perceived to be of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent accounted for 5% of stops and 2% of the population.

Whites and Latinos were one to two percentage points less likely to be stopped than their proportion of the population would indicate, while those of Asian background account for 12% of the population and just 6% of stops.

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43 employees at Kaiser medical center in San Jose test positive for COVID-19

SAN JOSE — Some 43 employees at the Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center Emergency Department tested positive for COVID-19 between Dec. 27 and Jan. 1, according to a senior official at the hospital.

“We will ensure that every affected staff member receives the care and support they need,” Irene Chavez, a senior vice president for Kaiser Permanente, said in a statement. “Using our infection prevention protocols, we are investigating the outbreak and using contact tracing to personally notify and test any staff or patients who were exposed during this time period based on (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and public health guidelines.”

Chavez said the hospital is moving quickly to test all emergency department employees and physicians for COVID-19.  Employees confirmed to have COVID-19 or suspected of having the virus due to symptoms will not come to work, she said.

The Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center remains open, officials said Saturday.

 

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Sugar Bowl scouting report: Clemson vs. Ohio State

No. 2 seed CLEMSON (10-1) vs. No. 3 OHIO STATE (6-0)

When: Friday, 5 p.m. PST

Where: Superdome, New Orleans

Line: Clemson by 7

Series record: Clemson leads, 4-0

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

A berth in the College Football Playoff national championship game in Miami on Jan. 11. Clemson is seeking its fifth appearance in the title game since the four-team CFP playoff debuted in the 2014 season. Ohio State is eyeing its first title game appearance since January 2015 when the Buckeyes beat Oregon to win their last national title.

KEY MATCHUP

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, an adept scrambler who is averaging about 254 yards and better than two touchdowns passing per game, against a Clemson defense that ranks in the top 10 nationally in yards allowed per game (298.5), has had multiple sacks in every game and has three defensive touchdowns on fumble returns.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ohio State: Fields has completed 72.6% of his passes for 1,521 yards and 15 TDs against five interceptions in six games. He also has 274 yards and five touchdowns rushing; running back Trey Sermon has averaged 112 yards rushing, and is coming off a school record-breaking 331 against Northwestern; wide receiver Garrett Wilson has 38 catches for 621 yards and five TDs; wide receiver Chris Olave has 36 catches for 528 yards and five TDs; All-America cornerback Shaun Wade has two INTs.

Clemson: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is widely expected to be selected first overall in the 2021 NFL draft after passing for 2,753 yards and 22 touchdowns against just four interceptions in nine games – all victories. Lawrence has completed 69.2% of his passes and also has rushed for 211 yards and seven touchdowns; running back Travis Etienne leads Clemson in rushing with 882 yards and 13 touchdowns to go with 44 catches for 524 yards and two touchdowns; wide receiver Amari Rodgers has 69 catches for 966 yards and seven touchdowns. Linebacker Baylon Spector has 9½ tackles for loss and 3½ sacks.

FACTS & FIGURES

Clemson is making its sixth consecutive playoff appearance. The Tigers won CFP titles in the 2016 and 2018 seasons and lost the championship game in the 2015 and 2019 seasons. … Ohio State is making its second straight playoff appearance and fourth overall. … Clemson beat Ohio State, 29-23, in a Fiesta Bowl CFP semifinal last season. Clemson also beat Ohio State, 31-0, in a 2016 Fiesta Bowl semifinal. … All of Clemson’s victories over Ohio State have come in bowl games, including the Orange Bowl at the end of the 2013 season and the 1978 Peach Bowl. … Clemson lost, 42-25, to LSU in last year’s CFP championship game at the Superdome in New Orleans. … Clemson is making its third Sugar Bowl appearance and is seeking its first Sugar Bowl win. … Ohio State is making its sixth Sugar Bowl appearance and has won its last three, including a 42-35 triumph over Alabama in the first CFP semifinal on Jan. 1, 2015.

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Kawhi Leonard returns as Clippers cruise past Blazers

  • The Clippers’ Nicolas Batum grabs a rebound in front of the Blazers’ Carmelo Anthony during the first half of Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, center, has his shot blocked by Los Angeles Clippers’ Ivica Zubac during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Paul George, center, drives between Portland Trail Blazers’ Derrick Jones Jr., right, and Jusuf Nurkic during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives to the basket on Patrick Patterson #54 of the LA Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Nicolas Batum, center, dunks against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Carmelo Anthony #00 of the Portland Trail Blazers attempts a shot in front of Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Blazers’ Damian Lillard, left, grabs the arm of the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard during the first half of Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard points to a teammate during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Carmelo Anthony, center, is defended by Los Angeles Clippers’ Ivica Zubac, left, and Paul George during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, center, and Paul George are greeted by teammates during a timeout in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Anfernee Simons #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers passes between Paul George #13, Serge Ibaka #9 and Reggie Jackson #1 of the LA Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Luke Kennard, right, drives under pressure from Portland Trail Blazers’ Rodney Hood during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers watches as Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers makes a move during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, center, passes the ball under pressure from Portland Trail Blazers’ Derrick Jones Jr., left, and Jusuf Nurkic during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Lou Williams dribbles the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Reggie Jackson #1 of the LA Clippers is fouled on a layup by Enes Kanter #11 of the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers attempts a layup in front of Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, center, goes up for a basket as Portland Trail Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkic and Damian Lillard defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Jusuf Nurkic #27 of the Portland Trail Blazers blocks the shot of Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard passes the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Damian Lillard #0 and CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers react as Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers takes a shot during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers guards Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers backs in on Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles in front of Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers passes between Patrick Beverley #21, Serge Ibaka #9 and Nicolas Batum #33 of the LA Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers guards Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives between Patrick Beverley #21, Serge Ibaka #9 and Nicolas Batum #33 of the LA Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers wears a face guard during the first half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers steals the ball from Lou Williams #23 of the LA Clippers during a 128-105 Clippers win at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers blocks the shot of Carmelo Anthony #00 of the Portland Trail Blazers during a 128-105 Clippers win at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers celebrates and his basket with Lou Williams #23 and Patrick Beverley #21 during a 128-105 Clippers win at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers attempts to steal the ball from Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers during a 128-105 Clippers win at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers scores past Jusuf Nurkic #27 of the Portland Trail Blazers during a 128-105 Clippers win at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Carmelo Anthony, left, looks to pass under pressure from Los Angeles Clippers’ Ivica Zubac during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 128-105. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Head coach Tyronn Lue of the LA Clippers, calls out from the bench during a 128-105 Clippers win over the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Derrick Jones Jr. #55 of the Portland Trail Blazers and Lou Williams #23 of the LA Clippers reach for a loose ball during a 128-105 Clippers win at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Anfernee Simons, center, passes the ball to Enes Kanter, right, while being defended by Los Angeles Clippers’ Ivica Zubac during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 128-105. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, left, is fouled by Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard passes the ball around Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Portland Trail Blazers’ Derrick Jones Jr., left, looks to shoot under pressure from Los Angeles Clippers’ Reggie Jackson during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 128-105. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard shoots over Portland Trail Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkic during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers watches during a 128-105 LA Clippers win over the Trail Blazers at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Lou Williams #23 of the LA Clippers celebrates the basket with a foul from Ivica Zubac #40 during a 128-105 Clippers win over the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on December 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES — Coach Tyronn Lue is in the habit of stressing the importance of good habits.

His Clippers seem to be making a habit of the blowout, welcoming a masked Kawhi Leonard back to the lineup on Wednesday night by rocking another Western Conference foe by 20-plus points at Staples Center.

With Leonard back in action – and being subjected to his teammates’ teasing nicknames such as “Leatherface” after he missed two games following a mouth laceration that required eight stitches on Christmas – the Clippers routed Portland, 128-105.

It was a tidy, no-doubt-about-it win even more to their new coach’s liking than their 23-point victory over Minnesota on Tuesday: He’d put in an order Wednesday for some early pop and some disruptive defense on Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard.

And the Clippers got it right. So, so right.

After starting sluggishly in their past two games – a franchise-worst blowout loss to Dallas on Sunday followed by Tuesday’s redeeming blowout victory against Minnesota – the Clippers’ starters came to play Wednesday.

After their coach insisted that “our first unit’s got to get off to better starts,” the Clippers (4-1) bolted to a 14-point first-quarter lead, assisting on 11 of their first 13 field goals and draining eight of their first 12 3-point attempts to set the tone to their liking.

“The last game, the starters came out slow, our bench brought our energy, and from there they picked it up,” Leonard said. “Pretty much tonight we tried to come out and bring that energy and intensity and just communicate, share the ball and we end up getting the win.”

Leonard sported a specially constructed mask protecting his jaw and adhered with two wide, white straps – a reminder of the Christmas collision between him and his friend Serge Ibaka, who accidentally struck Leonard with his elbow while pursuing a rebound.

The Clippers’ star joked Wednesday that there could be further ramifications for Ibaka stemming from the incident: “We got him on the trading block right now,” Leonard deadpanned. “So, whoever wants him, let us know, we trying to trade Serge.”

Lue said Leonard had noticeable trouble catching his breath early in his first game back, but that he showed admirable grit pushing through.

“Early on, especially in the first half, he was a little tired, a little winded,” Lue said, noting that Leonard stepped on the gas with 16 third-period points. “In the third quarter, he really pushed himself and started attacking the paint, started playing with force and playing with pace. He really took over that third quarter and built the lead for us.”

Darn straight he had trouble breathing, Leonard said: “(Shoot), it’s hard to breathe in that mask.”

Even so, Leonard was an active participant in the Clippers’ pretty passing display, which helped put the game out of reach. They finished with 30 assists (the third time this young season they’ve notched at least 30), including seven apiece Wednesday by George and Leonard – the latter of whom had six by halftime, his career-best for a half.

The ball movement uncorked another impressive offensive showing: Led by Leonard’s 28 points and George’s 23 (to go with 10 rebounds), six Clippers scored in double figures. As a team, they shot 49.5 percent (47 for 95) from the field and scored more than 30 points in all but the final period.

Defensively, the Clippers made it hard on Lillard by showing a variety of looks to the five-time All-Star who traded barbs with Clippers players in the bubble, but on Tuesday dismissed talk of a rivalry between the teams, telling Portland’s digital content producer Casey Holdahl: “I thought a rivalry was built on the court, you know what I’m saying?”

This time, the Clippers had the final word: Lillard finished with 20 points on 3-for-14 shooting (0 for 8 from 3-point range).

“If you watch Dame play, he’s ready to destroy any team that he plays against, it’s just not from trash-talking or what happened last year in the bubble,” Lue sid. “He is a very aggressive scorer and we know he can score 50 points on any given night. We just want to try to come out and set the tone early and try to blitz him to start the game, and he made some good passes and they got some good shots. But we were able to just kind of keep him off balance and the coaching staff did a great job of that.”

Lillard’s backcourt mate CJ McCollum went 8 for 17 and scored 25 points, Carmelo Anthony chipped in with 15, and Anfernee Simons added 10 but otherwise, no one had more than eight points for the Trail Blazers (2-2) as the Clippers held them to 42.1 percent shooting (32 for 76).

Ivica Zubac continued to cause opponents problems at the rim; the 7-foot center came off the bench to block three shots for the second consecutive game.

The @LAClippers improve to 4-1 behind Kawhi Leonard’s 28 PTS, 7 AST! #KiaTipOff20 pic.twitter.com/lsjMqs6nlU

— NBA (@NBA) December 31, 2020

“I thought a rivalry was built on the court, you know what I’m saying? I don’t think this is a rivalry.” — @Dame_Lillard on tonight’s game vs. Clippers

— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 30, 2020

Serge Ibaka recovers to pin it against the glass on @NBATV! #KiaTipOff20 pic.twitter.com/NOGEfDGus6

— NBA (@NBA) December 31, 2020

Kawhi gets his Klaw on it! 🖐#KiaTipOff20 on @NBATV pic.twitter.com/NmGf7lDnEI

— NBA (@NBA) December 31, 2020

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Clippers reassert themselves with rout of Timberwolves

  • The Clippers’ Lou Williams wraps a pass around the defense of the Timberwolves’ Ed Davis during the first half of Tuesday’s game at Staples Center. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Reggie Jackson #1 of the LA Clippers blocks a shot by Jake Layman #10 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann (14) dunks against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Reggie Jackson, left, and center Ivica Zubac (40) and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Ed Davis (17) reach for a rebound during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Clippers forward Serge Ibaka dunks during the second quarter of Tuesday’s game against the Timberwolves at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Jordan McLaughlin #6 of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives past the defense of Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers defends against Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell, left, shoots against Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers shoots past the defense of Naz Reid #11 and Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Ed Davis #17 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots past the defense of Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell, left, shoots against Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Serge Ibaka #9 of the LA Clippers dunks past the defense of Ricky Rubio #9 and Naz Reid #11 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, center, high-fives forward Serge Ibaka (9) during a timeout in the second quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. Leonard did not play due to injury. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves forward Juancho Hernangomez (41) dunks during the second quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid, right, dunks against Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley, right, goes up for a shot against Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann (14) and guard Reggie Jackson (1) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid (11) dunks the ball during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Juancho Hernangomez #41 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends against Daniel Oturu #10 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Jarred Vanderbilt #8 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks over the defense of Reggie Jackson #1 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Mfiondu Kabengele #25 of the LA Clippers battles Juancho Hernangomez #41 of the Minnesota Timberwolves for a loose ball during the second half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Amir Coffey #7 of the LA Clippers passes past the defense of Juancho Hernangomez #41 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dribbles into the defense of Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Jake Layman #10 and D’Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves battle for a rebound against Lou Williams #23 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: D’Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends against Nicolas Batum #33 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: D’Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends against Nicolas Batum #33 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: D’Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends against Nicolas Batum #33 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Naz Reid #11 of the Minnesota Timberwolves tips off against Serge Ibaka #9 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Ed Davis #17 of the Minnesota Timberwolves passes past the defense of Serge Ibaka #9 of the LA Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: D’Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots a jumpshot during the first half of a game against the LA Clippers at Staples Center on December 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jarred Vanderbilt, left, blocks a shot by Los Angeles Clippers forward Mfiondu Kabengele during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell, left, shoots against Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann, left, blocks a shot a shot by Minnesota Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Serge Ibaka (9) celebrates after scoring on an alley-oop against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Serge Ibaka celebrates a dunk during the third quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, left, defends against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Reggie Jackson (1) shoots next to Minnesota Timberwolves center Ed Davis (17) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jarred Vanderbilt, left, goes up for a shot against Los Angeles Clippers guard Reggie Jackson during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams, left, on Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jake Layman during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guards Paul George, left, and Luke Kennard celebrate a point during the third quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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LOS ANGELES — With a lighthearted, music-filled practice on Monday, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue guided his veteran Clippers team out of whatever Bizarro dimension it had stumbled into in its last outing.

They emerged Tuesday looking the part of an NBA team.

An NBA-title-contending team, even.

Seven Clippers scored in double figures as they dominated just about every facet of their 124-101 victory over Minnesota – including those areas where they struggled so badly on Sunday, when they suffered a franchise-worst 51-point loss to Dallas.

“The game wasn’t a show of how we’ve been working as far as practices and our preparation and the things we’ve been doing to get better,” Lue said. “Yesterday we came in for the morale of the team, got a lot of shooting up, a lot of competitive shooting with the music going.”

The message: “‘Just get this behind us, let’s move forward.’”

The Clippers (2-2) advanced in the right direction on Tuesday, despite playing again without star Kawhi Leonard (mouth laceration) and starting forward Marcus Morris Sr. (knee soreness) – and despite coming out of the gates again with more fizzle than the pop requested by Lue, quickly falling behind by nine points.

But Lou Williams’ spicy nine points in five first-quarter minutes off the bench woke up the Clippers, who surged ahead in the second quarter and stayed there, outscoring Minnesota 37-21 en route to a 70-50 halftime advantage.

“Our first unit’s got to get off to better starts, but I thought our bench came in and did a great job,” Lue said. “Lou and Big Zu (Ivica Zubac), Terance Mann, Reggie (Jackson), they all gave us a big lift off the bench, and we needed those guys tonight.”

Williams “was really good at scoring the basketball like he always does,” Lue said of the three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year, who finished with 20 points and five assists in 20 minutes, going 7 for 11 from the floor and 5 for 6 from the free-throw line.

Zubac played with his native Croatia in his thoughts after a destructive 6.4 magnitude earthquake killed at least seven people south of the capital of Zagreb; the 7-foot center scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked three shots.

And Jackson contributed 10 points, four rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block – saying afterward that Lue employed the perfect approach to righting the ship after Sunday’s “atrocious loss.”

“He has an understanding of our team and what we need at the time, so I think guys needed just a little pick-me-up,” Jackson said. “We’re a team that really wants to win, so I don’t think anybody can be harder on us than ourselves as players.

“T-Lue did a great job of freshening it up. We had fun, listened to music, shot together, chatted it up. We knew that wasn’t necessarily who we were; it was an ugly showing, it wasn’t our best version of ourselves, we got to take that L, but we reflected, we had a good day, we moved on from it and we were fortunate enough to get a win today, and we’re gonna have to move on from this win and try to get another one tomorrow.”

The Clippers won’t have much time to relish Tuesday’s outcome, not with Portland (2-1 and fresh off a victory over the Lakers) on deck Wednesday.

But even if they don’t get to revel in the result, the Clippers will try to keep it going after they shot 47 for 88 (53.8 percent) overall against the T’Wolves, including going 16 for 31 from 3-point range. Patrick Beverley and Paul George knocked down four 3-pointers apiece, by themselves equaling the team’s anomalous output Sunday.

And after collectively pulling down only 36 rebounds against Dallas, the Clippers outrebounded the undersized Timberwolves, 46-39. L.A. also finished with 52 points in the paint (compared with just 36 on Sunday), with 56 points off the bench (32 on Sunday), with 32 assists (after a paltry 13), and with plenty of reason to smile beneath their face coverings on the bench.

The T’wolves (2-2) got roughed up for the second straight game at Staples Center. A few hours after the Clippers were bludgeoned on their home court on Sunday, the Lakers put a 36-point licking on Minnesota, which is missing injured star center Karl-Anthony Towns.

In the loss on Tuesday, D’Angelo Russell led Minnesota with 22 points and Malik Beasley contributed 19.

For the Clippers, George finished with a cool 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and two of the Clippers’ 10 blocks. Serge Ibaka had 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Luke Kennard had his best game yet as a Clipper, subbing into the starting lineup for Leonard and finishing with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including making 3 for 4 from 3-point range. Beverley totaled 12 points, all on those 3-pointers.

And, for the second consecutive game, the Clippers youngsters got to show their stuff in garbage time – albeit under much more preferable circumstances.

“It’s still early in the season,” George said, reflecting on the considerable, bizarre swing between Sunday and Tuesday, as well as some of the other early blowouts around the league. “I think it’s a crazy turnaround coming into this season. If you think about it, it’s like Game 4 … this would primarily be like preseason a little bit, with this only being Game 4 under our belt but playing seven games altogether counting preseason. So it’s just different, teams are still working through stuff, still kinks to iron out. No team is in their perfect form or close to it right now.”

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Oxford Academy’s Angie Choi commits to MIT for women’s basketball

High-scoring Oxford Academy point guard Angie Choi has committed to Division III MIT, the Patriots’ girls basketball program announced.

The 5-foot-3 Choi led Orange County in scoring last season by averaging 21.6 points. She shined for a team that finished 12-16 after graduating seven seniors from its CIF-SS Division 2-A runner-up squad in 2019.

Choi also averaged 4.1 assists and 3.7 steals last season. She scored a season-high 36 points in a 53-51 loss against Cerritos.

In three seasons at Oxford Academy, Choi ranks second in school history in scoring (1,323 points) and owns the school record for 3-pointers (128). She made 56 of her 168 attempts (33 percent) from beyond the arc last season.

MIT reached the Division III postseason in 2018 and 2019, losing in the first round each year. The Engineers also won their New England conference title in 2018 and 2019, and placed second last season.

Assistant Meghan O’Connell was named the team’s interim coach in September.

Please send girls basketball news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter and Instagram 

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