The Los Angeles Clippers’ revolving door of available players could spin another scoring option back onto the court Monday at home against the San Antonio Spurs, while yet another key contributor has departed.
The Clippers could finally be ready to welcome back star Paul George after he missed five games with what was first described as a right elbow contusion and now is considered an elbow sprain.
The Clippers have gone 3-2 without George, losing at the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-103 on Saturday, while also missing Marcus Morris Sr. in the defeat. After scoring at least 20 points in five of his last seven games, Morris was entered into the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
The Clippers are also trying to get a better sense of the availability of efficient backup big man Isaiah Hartenstein, who injured his ankle late in Saturday’s defeat.
But it is George and his team-leading 25.0 points per game that the Clippers are most desperate to get back into action. The Clippers won the first three games that George missed, but are now on a two-game skid after also losing at Utah 124-103 on Wednesday.
“Guys in and out (and) I am not making excuses, but it is just hard as a team to get a groove, get something going, get the same looks every night,” said the Clippers’ Terance Mann, who has topped his 10.0 scoring average in three of the last four games. “We fought hard (Saturday), we fought hard the last game also. I feel like we are still heading in the right direction, though.”
To move forward, the Clippers will have to shake off Saturday’s stunning defeat when the Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drilled a 28-foot step-back 3-pointer with one second remaining to win it.
Gilgeous-Alexander went to Oklahoma City as part of the trade that brought George to Los Angeles and seemed to relish the game-winning moment.
“He made a tough shot to win the game, but we played well enough to win,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said.
While the Clippers lost at Utah last week, the Spurs delivered a 128-126 road victory over the Jazz on Friday. On Sunday, San Antonio fell 121-114 on the road against the Sacramento Kings and now enter the second half of a back-to-back.
Dejounte Murray led the Spurs with 25 points and nine assists against the Kings, while Lonnie Walker IV had 19 points. San Antonio had no answer defensively for Sacramento’s Buddy Hield, who scored 29 points, with 24 coming over the final 15 minutes.
San Antonio’s Doug McDermott missed Sunday’s game with a tooth infection.
Although Murray fell short of the mark Sunday, two of his five triple-doubles this season have come in his last five games.
“That’s natural to him,” Walker said about Murray’s recent productivity, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “Even in a bad game, he’s going to give you a triple-double. He’s finding what to do for himself and for his teammates.”
The Spurs dropped a 106-92 decision to the Clippers at Los Angeles on Nov. 16 when they were in the midst of a six-game losing streak. They are 7-5 since the slide, after Sunday’s defeat to the Kings, but all five of those defeats have come in the last eight games.
–Field Level Media