The Los Angeles Clippers (26-15) on the second night of a back-to-back got sweet revenge last night for their worst defeat in franchise history by defeating the Dallas Mavericks (20-18) 109-99 at American Airlines Center. The previous night in New Orleans the Clippers did not come out with any energy or focus and got their butt kicks accordingly. It could be said that they were likely saving their energy and looking ahead to this game because that was not the case last night. Even though they were without 2 starters in Patrick Beverley (knee) and Serge Ibaka (back), they looked like the better team the whole night.
They got out to an early lead, but were only able to get it as high as 14. Dallas would not lay down and were able to cut into the lead and kept it close throughout. Thanks in large part to their superstar Luka Doncic‘s triple double. It went down nearly to the wire but they were able to force some missed shots and turnovers during clutch time. Paul George struggled in this one, but he sunk a late 3 to put it out of reach for the Mavs.
STAR OF THE GAME
Once again Kawhi with his 22 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals. As the leader of the team he was not about to let them lose this game after getting embarrassed the night previous. Kawhi seldom seems to be play fast, as he tends to play at his own speed by taking his time. He did not seem to be in slow motion last night as he was all over the place from the get go. Leonard was going after every loose ball, and scrapping under the basket to secure defensive rebounds.
He guarded Luka for much of the game and helped force him into turning it over 7 times. It was Kawhi who late in the game was helping to force Dallas into missed shots during clutch minutes. He was grabbing seemingly every rebound. The Clippers are undefeated on the second night of back-to-backs thanks to their resolve and the leadership of their leader-the “fun guy”- Kawhi Leonard.
The focus of the team. For as good as they were last night they were just as bad the night before in New Orleans. They need to be coming out with the same focus and energy every night. Not just when they feel like it. This team has a tendency to look ahead at future opponents and not focus on defeating the team in front of them in the hear and now. You have to take care of the business at hand.
Last year when they were defeated by the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs it can be said they did not take them seriously enough. Maybe they were looking ahead to playing their crosstown rival Lakers. It seems after this set of back-to-backs that this is still a problem for them. The Pelicans are in all likelihood not going to be in the postseason this year, so there is just no reason the the Clippers should’ve allowed themselves to be blown out like that if they truly have championship aspirations. No matter how hot they were.
This is a 3 way tie between Ivica Zubac, Reggie Jackson, and Nicolas Batum. There was a lineup change last night where Zu and Regg got the starts in place of Pat Bev and Serge. Batum was benched for Marcus Morris Sr. . I am on the record as saying Zubac should be starting every game. He showed why last night by putting up a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Zubac got stuck out on an island on defense when he was switched onto guarding Luka on the perimeter but did not get embarrassed. He guarded him well by staying in front of him and forcing him into tough shots for misses.
Tough to do for a 7 footer against a point guard. Reggie only scored 12 points, but he was he was 50% from 3, making 2 out of 4 from there; and he was a team high +22. Batum did not get benched because he was playing poorly, but in order to get Morris going early. He did not look to be sore about it, as he is a good teammate, and made 4 out of 6 from the field all from 3. He was also the only reserve in the positive at +5. This current lineup paid for the team, and Coach Lue said he will be sticking with it going forward. I agree with him. I just hope it includes keeping Zu as a starter.
Vs. Dallas Mavericks, Wednesday March 17th at 6:30PM Pacific
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