Clippers look to bounce back in Sacramento
The Los Angeles Clippers have been playing so proficiently that they have expressed dissatisfaction after victories this season.
They're really going to be in a foul mood after letting one slip away.
Los Angeles (10-2) brings the NBA's best record to Sacramento on Friday night, and they will have had 48 hours to stew before they take the floor at Golden 1 Center. The Clippers saw the end to a seven-game winning streak in a 111-107 overtime loss at home to the Memphis Grizzlies. Los Angeles fought back from a 15-point halftime deficit, but guard J.J. Reddick's 3-pointer with the Clippers down two and four seconds left was knocked away from behind.
It was Los Angeles' first loss since Nov. 2 at Oklahoma City.
“It's a learning point. It's a lesson,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said after the game. “Putting ourselves in such a big hole makes late game (situations) so intense for every little thing. It messes you up. I think it's good. We love to win them all, but it will be good for us.”
The early going has been as good to the Clippers as anyone, and they've been spurred by defense. Per NBA.com, the Clippers allow 94.6 points per 100 possessions, the best mark in the league. They've held nine of their 12 opponents below 100 points, and the 111 scored by the Grizzlies marked a season high by an opponent.
They also have outscored opponents by 208 points in their first 12 games, an average of 17.3 per contest. They average 108.7 points per game, with Griffin leading them at 20.6 and Chris Paul adding 18.3. Paul, who is fourth in the NBA with 8.3 assists per game, leads the assists-to-turnover ratio at 4.76.
Despite all of it, Rivers expressed disappointment Tuesday that both the Clippers' losses have come at home and that his team was sloppy at times.
“We made mistakes,” he said. “All of them are fixable mistakes.”
The Kings keep hoping they have time to fix a rough roller coaster of an early season. Sacramento (4-8) has dropped three straight contests, including two in a row at their new home. The skid started when they let a 19-point lead get away against the Lakers at home on Nov. 10. They slumbered out of the game in their next two, the latest a 110-105 loss on Wednesday to San Antonio in which they fell behind 16-6 early in the first quarter.
“We've got to get off to better starts,” Joerger said of a team that also fell behind 25-13 in an overtime loss at Portland on Nov. 11. “I thought that was just horrendous.”
The Kings seemed disinterested early against San Antonio, allowing 16 points in the paint and turning over the ball four times in the opening 12 minutes.
“The starters have to do a better job,” Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said. “We set the tone.”
Cousins is averaging 26.6 points per contest and Rudy Gay 21.3 for the Kings, but Sacramento has struggled to find a consistent third scorer. They've also struggled to defend the 3-pointer, allowing opponents to shoot 35 percent. The Clippers knock down 37 percent from distance, the third-best mark in the NBA, and Reddick is 10th among individuals with a 47 percent success rate.