Injuries and inconsistency were the storylines for the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of the season. But the Clippers look to start the second half on a high note Saturday when they host the Sacramento Kings.
The Clippers, who lost three of four road contests heading into the All-Star break, remain a formidable contender for the NBA title. They own the Western Conference’s third-best record at 37-18 despite recent injuries to Paul George (strained hamstring) and Patrick Beverley (groin injury). Kawhi Leonard plays just once in back-to-back sets.
Beverley, who competed in the skills challenge during the All-Star weekend, is expected to return against the Kings. It isn’t known if George will be available. He was sidelined during the second quarter of the Clippers’ double-overtime loss at Boston on Feb. 13.
“I’m a little concerned about that one because I think that’s the second time, maybe the third,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers told the media after George tweaked his hamstring again. “I don’t know what to do, but I know rest you will have to do.”
Injuries have forced Rivers to set 27 different starting lineups in 55 games. But with some new additions, and a team with arguably the best depth, Rivers has options.
Los Angeles obtained forward Marcus Morris in a three-team trade Feb. 6, and he could help fill the void if George is out for a period. Morris averaged 11 points in his three games with the Clippers, but he could provide more scoring punch once he becomes acclimated with his new teammates and Rivers’ system.
“We got to get him integrated,” Rivers said before the break, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Secondly, because of the things he can do, there’s ways we can use him.”
On Wednesday, Los Angeles signed guard Reggie Jackson, who was waived by the Detroit Pistons. Jackson, who has missed much of the season with a back injury, averaged 14.9 points and 5.1 assists in 14 games with Detroit.
“Reggie is a proven playmaker and scorer, and we are looking forward to adding his experience and creativity to our team,” said Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank.
The Kings are coming off a 129-125 victory over the visiting Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday. Harrison Barnes scored a season-high 32 points, matching a career-best with seven 3-pointers and connecting on 11 of 17 attempts from the floor.
“He came in ready, he made some shots, but it’s just being out there and be ready for us,” said De’Aaron Fox told the team website. “That’s one thing that he brings to this team — even if he’s not making shots, he’s doing something and I think that’s what being a pro is about.”
Fox contributed 26 points, Buddy Hield added 20 and Kent Bazemore chipped in 18 for the Kings, winners of four of their last six contests.
Sacramento prevailed despite almost blowing a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter. After Memphis cut the advantage to 125-124, Hield converted four free throws in the final 6.6 seconds to seal the win.
The Kings blew out the Clippers 124-103 in their last meeting in Los Angeles on Jan. 30 as Fox scored a career-best 34 points with eight assists, and the team set a franchise record for 3-pointers made with 21.
–Field Level Media