The Los Angeles Clippers are in an unfamiliar position after losing consecutive games for the first time this season.
The Clippers aim to get back on track Wednesday night when they play the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis in the opener of a two-game trip.
Los Angeles lost 119-115 to the Boston Celtics on Friday and 113-110 to the Sacramento Kings two nights later. Both defeats came with six-time All-Star Paul George sitting out with a bone marrow edema in his right big toe.
“He’s a little disappointed, you know, because … especially the way he’s been playing and the things he’s been doing for this team, but it is what happens,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We have to have a ‘next man up’ mentality, just got to hold the fort down ’till he gets back.”
George averages 24.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and a club-best 5.5 assists for Los Angeles, which has played its past eight games without Patrick Beverley (knee injury).
Lou Williams, who averages 10.3 points off the bench this season, is enjoying an 18.7 spurt over his past three games.
Williams scored a season-high 23 points on Sunday, but he wasn’t alone in providing a spark among the reserves. Marcus Morris Sr. had 16 points, Ivica Zubac collected 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Terance Mann added six points and six rebounds.
“Our bench came in and did a tremendous job,” Lue said. “Our bench was really good with Zu and Lou, Marcus, Terance Mann. They were really good off the bench. They kind of saved the game for us as far as being in it.”
The reserves, in fact, made 18 of 41 shots from the field (43.9 percent). By comparison, the starters were just 23 of 58 (39.7 percent).
“Some of the shots went in and out,” said star Kawhi Leonard, who recorded 20 points on a 9-for-21 performance from the floor. “Some of our pace was pretty low (for the) majority of the game.”
Williams, a three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year award recipient, also had a team-high 20 points in the Clippers’ 124-101 victory over Minnesota on Dec. 29.
D’Angelo Russell led the Timberwolves with 22 points in that game; however, he mustered just six before leaving Monday’s 127-122 loss to the Dallas Mavericks with left-leg soreness. Russell, who averages 19.3 points per game, missed Saturday’s 120-118 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder with right-quad soreness.
Malik Beasley scored a season-high-tying 30 points Monday, with 22 coming during the final 8:39 of the fourth quarter. Beasley highlighted the late surge by draining 6-of-7 attempts from 3-point range.
“I didn’t want the team to go another game without fighting or battling, and we’ve been doing that the whole time,” Beasley said, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Just have to hit a few shots.”
On Tuesday, Beasley was sentenced to 120 days in jail — to be served after the NBA season — after he pleaded guilty to a felony count of threatening a family with a rifle in Septembe. The 24-year-old will serve out his sentence at the county workhouse or home confinement, and also was put on probation for three years.
The Western Conference cellar-dwelling Timberwolves are returning home for the first time since posting a 109-104 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 31.
–Field Level Media