Kawhi Leonard said the Los Angeles Clippers weren’t ready to play Saturday before losing at home to the Sacramento Kings. He doesn’t expect that to be the case Monday when the Clippers host the Memphis Grizzlies.
Leonard had 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but he and the Clippers managed only two points in the final six minutes in a 112-103 defeat.
“I just don’t feel like we were locked in early and it just took too late,” Leonard said to the Los Angeles Times. “It was too late for us to turn that switch on.”
It was the third straight loss for Los Angeles, which looked rusty after being off nine days during the All-Star break. Against the Kings, the Clippers missed 20 of their first 24 shots from the floor and managed a season-low 13 points in the first quarter. Sacramento led the game until the fourth quarter, when Los Angeles briefly grabbed the lead.
However, after newly acquired guard Reggie Jackson converted a 3-pointer with 6:03 remaining, the Clippers didn’t score again until Leonard slammed an alley-oop pass from Marcus Morris with 57.5 seconds left. By then, the outcome had been practically decided.
“At the end of a game, there’s going to be times you’re not going to score but you can’t let the other team score,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
The Clippers played without two of their key performers — Paul George (strained hamstring) and Patrick Beverley (groin injury). Jackson, who was waived by the Detroit Pistons last week, and Morris, acquired in a three-team trade Feb. 6 and playing just his fourth game with the Clippers, started in their places.
In his first game with the Clippers, Jackson finished with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting in 23 minutes. After a scoreless first half, Morris finished with six points, two rebounds and five turnovers in 32 minutes.
Lou Williams had 24 points and Montrezl Harrell added 16 for the Clippers, but it wasn’t enough.
The Grizzlies fell 117-105 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Josh Jackson came off the bench to score a season-high 20 points for the Grizzlies, who have dropped the first two of their four-game road swing. Ja Morant had 17 points on 5-of-14 shooting but committed five turnovers.
The Grizzlies rallied from a 25-point third-quarter deficit and closed to within four in the fourth quarter before fading.
“Guys are turning it up after the All-Star break,” guard Dillon Brooks, who finished with seven points on 3-of-14 shooting before fouling out, told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. “We got to hold our own and come out every single game like we came out in the second half. It’s intensity, focus, we just need to lock in.”
The Grizzlies will have to raise their play without power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who sustained a sprained left knee late in the second quarter against the Lakers. Jackson will be re-evaluated in two weeks, the club said Sunday.
Jackson is the team’s second-leading scorer at 16.9 points per game.
–Field Level Media