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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Mar 30, 2024 2:54 pm

With improving defense, Clippers aim to keep rolling at Hornets

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The Los Angeles Clippers have been getting it done in a variety of ways in their recent successes, perhaps most notably on defense.

That’s likely a discouraging sign for the Charlotte Hornets, who have endured a bunch of offensive shortcomings.

The teams meet Sunday night in Charlotte.

“I love our defense,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said after Friday night’s 100-97 triumph at Orlando. “Another tough, gritty win for us coming down the stretch. Finding a way to win the game. That’s what you have to do if you want to be a good team.”

The Clippers (46-27) have won four of their past six games, with each of those victories coming on the road. The most recent effort came with Kawhi Leonard’s 29 points, marking the third time in four games that he has led the team in scoring.

The defensive numbers would look better for Los Angeles if it weren’t for live-ball turnovers at the offensive end.

“You can’t be doing that,” Lue said. “Turning the ball over with bad passes, we can’t do it. A lot of it was careless turnovers.”

The Hornets (18-55) have lost six of their past seven games. In all of those defeats, they’ve failed to reach the 100-point mark.

Charlotte will have concerns about rookie Brandon Miller, who played just briefly after suffering an ankle injury Friday night against Golden State.

“There’s no need to mess with it,” coach Steve Clifford said. “He’ll probably say he’s fine or whatever.”

If Miller isn’t available, that would put an additional pinch on an already-limited Charlotte roster. Even with his early exit from Friday’s game, Miller logged 33 minutes, as many as any player on the team other than forward Miles Bridges. Miller has played at least 30 minutes in 17 of the past 19 games.

Different types of defensive snags emerged for the Hornets in their 115-97 loss to visiting Golden State.

“A lot of our problems came because we were back, but we weren’t set,” Clifford said. “They didn’t score a lot of fast-break points, but they get you on the move. That’s what they’ve always done, so you’re on your heels and that’s where all the cuts come in.”

Charlotte counts on shooting to stay in games, so going 12-for-46 on 3-pointers didn’t help.

“We just couldn’t make shots,” said Bridges, who scored a team-high 22 points. “I couldn’t make a 3 to save my life. We just couldn’t make shots that we usually make. We’ve just got to get in the gym, get up shots.”

The Hornets did receive 14 points from bench player Davis Bertans, marking his second double-figure mark in his past six games.

Clippers backup Mason Plumlee is a former Charlotte center. His playing time has been reduced the past few weeks, though he provided eight points and four rebounds in Orlando, and he was out with a knee injury when Los Angeles faced the Hornets earlier in the season.

The Clippers beat Charlotte 113-104 on the day after Christmas to begin a five-game winning streak. James Harden scored 29 points in that game.

Sunday’s game will be the final of the regular season for the Clippers in the Eastern time zone.

-Field Level Media

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