November 30, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Clippers, missing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, watch Hawks snap winning streak

With Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Patrick Beverley all watching from their Southern California homes, the Clippers played in Atlanta, unsure whether they will see their teammates before the six-game trip finishes.

Asked whether he expected any of the three to join the team during their trip, coach Tyronn Lue said he was “not sure yet.”

With Leonard and George indefinitely sidelined by the NBA’s health and safety protocols and Beverley nursing a sore right knee, no one can be sure what the next week will hold for the once-hot Clippers. Yet their performance Tuesday likely offered what could be a rough blueprint for what is to come, should all three starters miss a significant amount of time.

A starting lineup featuring three former reserves grinded out a five-point halftime lead. They ran over the top of screens, forcing the Hawks’ most capable three-point shooters to eschew deep shots for floaters in the lane. Atlanta’s second-to-none ability to score second-chance points was blunted by holding the Hawks to 10 offensive rebounds.

That fight couldn’t be sustained, however. Lacking firepower, the Clippers were outscored by 11 in the third quarter en route to a 108-99 defeat.

Their seven-game winning streak is over. The uncertainty about when they’ll start a new one has just begun.

Without George, Leonard and Beverley, who had made 44.7% of their combined three-pointers, the Clippers suffered from a predictable shooting deficit. They made just one of nine shots from deep in the first quarter, and the Hawks settled into a zone defense to encourage more of the same.

The Clippers (13-5) finished making 30.8% of their threes, the third consecutive game the NBA’s leading three-point offense has shot worse than 31% from deep.

Reggie Jackson scored 20 points after being plugged into the lineup in place of Beverley and added eight assists and seven rebounds. Serge Ibaka scored 15 points and his backup center, Ivica Zubac, scored 13 points with 10 rebounds despite playing with foul trouble.

Atlanta’s Trae Young scored 38 points to lead the Hawks (9-8).