After laying an egg upon their return from a mammoth seven-game road trip, the Los Angeles Clippers are out to get back on track when they face the visiting Detroit Pistons on Saturday afternoon.
The Clippers were an impressive 6-1 on a trip through the Eastern Conference but dropped a 117-106 decision to the New Orleans Pelicans at home Wednesday. Despite the defeat, Los Angeles is 26-6 since the start of December and has lost consecutive games just once since Nov. 17.
“It was a tough game for us. No excuses,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said. “I’m pretty sure we’re not the only team that’s gone through this, but it is what it is. Everyone has a bad scheduled game at some point during the season and we came off a 13-day trip, landed at 2:30 (a.m.) and then played a really good team the next day that’s beat us 10 out of 12. They played well.”
Paul George, who had referenced a nagging groin injury at the start of the trip, had one of his worst games with seven points on 3-of-15 shooting. He was also 0-of-8 from 3-point range in his second-lowest scoring game of the season.
“It’s a make-or-miss league,” George said. “I rely on being able to do multiple things on the floor, so not making shots doesn’t really affect me. Of course, I want to make shots, but when shots aren’t falling, I know there’s other things I can do to kind of help my team win.”
James Harden scored 19 points and Kawhi Leonard was held to 15 as Los Angeles dropped to 19-5 in home games.
At 8-43, the Pistons bring the NBA’s worst record into Los Angeles, but they are 2-0 to open a six-game road trip heading into the All-Star break. After a victory at Sacramento on Wednesday, the Pistons earned a 128-122 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday by rallying from a 23-point deficit.
Jalen Duren scored a season-high 27 points with a career-best 22 rebounds Thursday, while Jaden Ivey scored 26 points while going a career-best 7-of-7 from 3-point range. The Pistons scored four points in the final 54 seconds of regulation to tie it then held the Blazers to 1-of-9 shooting in OT.
Cade Cunningham scored 23 points for the Pistons, who were 16-of-27 (59.3 percent) from 3-point range and playing free and easy despite a number of changes in advance of Thursday’s trade deadline. Detroit had just nine available players.
The Pistons dealt Kevin Knox, Bojan Bogdanovic, Alec Burks, Marvin Bagley III, Isiah Livers and Monte Morris in a number of recent moves.
The Pistons acquired Evan Fournier, Malachi Flynn, Quentin Grimes, Ryan Arcidiacono, Danuel House Jr., Shake Milton, Troy Brown Jr. and Simone Fontecchio and netted three second-round draft picks. House, Joe Harris and Killian Hayes were released.
“I enjoyed coaching (Bogdanovic and Burks) and it’s just part of the NBA season, and it’s a blessing, all of it,” Pistons coach Monty Williams said of two veterans he leaned on heavily. “But I can’t reiterate enough how much I appreciated having all of the guys we’ve had, and now … there’s a process of thinking about what we’re gonna look like going forward.”
–Field Level Media
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