For the first time all season the Clippers (17-8) recorded two losses in a row as they were defeated by the Sacramento Kings (12-11) 113-110 at Staples Center on Superbowl Sunday afternoon. The Clippers were once again without Paul George and Patrick Beverley, and their absence was noticeable. LAC really does not like matinee games and typically start off slow during them. That trend continued today with the 12:00 start, looking slow and coming up short on shots. The team was not able to recover. The Kings, led by De’Aaron Fox, took advantage of the shorthanded LA team right from the tip taking a 3 point lead into halftime. The Clippers were able to keep it close throughout, actually having a 1 point lead going into the 4th quarter. But when it came to clutch-time their lack of practice in that area showed. Down the stretch they had turnovers and missed open shots whilst trying to pull ahead, causing them to lose by just 3 at the final buzzer. The eyeball test showed Sacramento was the better team the whole game, and deserved the W. They got their revenge for the 2 blowout losses the Clips handed them earlier this year.
STAR OF THE GAME
De’Aaron Fox and his team and game high 36 points to go along with 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and a steal. He has improved drastically since he has come into the NBA, and has emerged as a star. He is the fastest player in the league; and it showed this afternoon as no one could stop him. He finished shooting an even 60% from the field. He got to wherever he wanted the whole game; getting to the basket at will and finishing amongst the trees, stifling the Clippers whenever they tried to make a run. If he can manage to become a more consistent 3 point shooter, he will be a problem for the whole league. He very well may do so, as he has shown marked improvement in that area. He only made 2 out of 7 3’s today, but those 2 he did make were big-time. He should receive some All-Star consideration this year for sure, as he has just led his team in getting back over the .500 mark with his stellar play.
The health of the team. Once again Pat Bev and PG13 sat out due to injury. Since Beverley has been out, opposing point-guards have gone off against them. These past 5, Kemba, Sexton, Kyrie, Quickley, and today Fox all have had big games. Reggie Jackson, although he has played fairly well overall, is not a noted defensive player. Today was no different in that regard as Fox absolutely torched him. Kawhi Leonard ended up having to try and defend Fox late in the game, but it was too late by then as the Fantastic Mr. Fox was already in a groove. Beverley’s first-team level defensive presence would have made a difference undoubtedly. Without their other All-Star the opposing teams have been able to load up on Kawhi, and basically take him away. He really struggled this afternoon, and did not look like his usual self, as he was only 9 of 21 from the field. You could chalk it up to the early start, but you have to credit the Kings for the way they were able to defend him. He suffered from that lack of another star-level threat on his team for Sacramento to have to worry about. LAC needs their starting backcourt back in a bad way if they want to get off the snide.
I am not going to give it to a Kings player. No real reason, I am just NOT going to. I am going to give it to Ivica Zubac because I feel the guy needs some recognition. He needs to be starting. He put up another double-double today with 12 points and 14 rebounds. To me, he has looked better than Serge Ibaka by a vast margin all year. Serge provides good defense and some outside shooting, yes. But he loses most opening tips, and has struggled in close to the basket. He will blow chippie after chippie, getting an offensive rebound to just come up short again on another chippie. It’s embarrassing. Whereas Zubac and his soft touch has looked terrific down there all season. He has been just as good if not better defensively, and has been a better a rebounder. I don’t know how much more Ty Lue has to see to recognize that the guy who started at the 5 all season last year, should be back in that role. Hopefully after this second consecutive loss, Coach Lue will shake things up a bit and make that change.
Zu deserves it.
P.S. GO CHIEFS!
Vs Minnesota Timberwolves, Wednesday, February 10th at 5:00PM
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