Knicks out to shake recent stumble vs. resurgent Clippers

Mar 5, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) looks towards the basket against Memphis Grizzlies during fourth quarter at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks try to shake off a two-game losing skid on Saturday afternoon when they continue a four-game Western Conference road swing against the Los Angeles Clippers.

New York opened its West Coast road trip Thursday with a 122-117 loss to the Sacramento Kings, in a game that went down to the wire. RJ Barrett scored 25 points, while Julius Randle went for 23 points and 10 rebounds, but the Knicks could not withstand a 15-point fourth quarter from the Kings’ De’Aaron Fox.

“One possession game, we needed a stop, didn’t get it,” Randle said. “Happens like that sometimes. So regroup, get to (Los Angeles), regroup, get a win.”

The loss at Sacramento followed a 112-105 loss to the struggling Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday that ended a nine-game winning streak. The 105 points were the fewest the Knicks scored since Feb. 7, and matched their lowest scoring output in a loss since Jan. 18.

New York looks to avoid a three-game skid as it embarks on the first of two consecutive games at Los Angeles – the first against the Clippers, then a matchup with the Lakers on Sunday night.

The Clippers come in looking for their third straight victory.

Los Angeles snapped out of a five-game losing streak Sunday when it won a come-from-behind, 135-129 decision over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers followed that Wednesday with a renewed effort on the defensive end during a 108-100 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

“Even when we lost those games, we were confident in ourselves,” said the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, following his 24-point, 12-rebound performance against the Raptors, the team he led to an NBA championship in 2019. “And I’m on the floor. Whenever I’m playing, I feel like we can win a basketball game.”

Dealing with the residual effects of a previous knee injury, and resting to avoiding any setbacks, has cost Leonard 28 games thus far in 2022-23, but the five-time All-NBA selection has been on a tear of late.

Wednesday marked his sixth consecutive game scoring at least 21 points in a run that included a 34-point performance in the win over Memphis and a 44-point outing against Sacramento.

Paul George has been in every Clippers lineup since Jan. 31. The six-time All-NBA selection has scored 20-plus points in 11 of the last 13 outings, and recorded a 42-point, 11-rebound double-double in the win over Memphis.

While the Clippers have been healthy and near full-strength in recent weeks, New York arrives with some lineup uncertainty. Jalen Brunson aggravated a foot injury at Sacramento after scoring 19 points and departed after playing fewer than 20 minutes.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said Brunson’s issue appeared to be “soreness.” His status for Saturday still is to be determined.

Brunson, who is averaging a career-best 23.8 points per game and dishing out 6.1 assists, missed the previous two games before New York began the road trip at Sacramento.

“It’s obviously going to be tough to replace his production,” Randle said. “We’ll do it. We’re up to the task.”

–Field Level Media

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