PREVIEW: 1st place Clippers look to wash away Wizards (Prime Ticket, 4p.)
WASHINGTON — The Los Angeles Clippers come rolling into the Nation’s Capital Tuesday night to face a Wizards team in disarray.
Montrezl Harrell had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Lou Williams added 16 points and a season-high 11 assists, and the Clippers rallied past the Atlanta Hawks 127-119 on Monday night for their fifth straight win.
“We keep putting ourselves in holes, which is too dangerous,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers told reporters. “But just the heart of the team… It’s a really fun team to coach.”
The Clippers (11-5) came back from 15 points down on the road to post their seventh win in eight games. They trailed 87-72 in the third quarter, but went on a 20-4 run to take a 97-96 lead.
“Mike’s been shooting the ball so well,” Rivers said. “We put him in at the three and told him ‘to just stand still and if the ball comes, shoot it.’ And he did that.”
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Monday was an off day for Washington, but the team still made news. They day began with an ESPN report by Adrian Wojnarowski saying the team’s management has signaled to other teams “an impression that every player on their roster” could be available for trade discussions.
Later in the day the Washington Post reported about on-court confrontations between John Wall and Jeff Green and between Bradley Beal and Austin Rivers at last Thursday’s practice. The Post said that after those incidents, Wall swore at coach Scott Brooks and Beal erupted about general manager Ernie Grunfeld.
And that was before the team’s two-game losing streak.
The Wizards are coming off a 119-109 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers that was far worse than the final score would indicate. Brooks pulled his starter with Washington trailing by 19 after three quarters. The reserves threw a scare into Portland, getting within single digits in the final minutes.
Washington fell behind early and trailed 62-41 at halftime.
“We got to just play with more enthusiasm, more effort, more energy,” Brooks told the Washington Post. “That’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing.”
In a game that is rapidly becoming centered around the 3-point shot, the Wizards are struggling to catch up. They are 25th in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage (32.7 percent), averaging 10.4 per made threes per game.
At the same time, they are one of the league’s worst defensive units, allowing 116.9 points per game, good for 29th in the league.
“If all five of us give effort on that end, we’ll be fine,” Wall said about the defense. “If three of us give effort we won’t be fine. If four give effort, we still won’t be fine. It takes all five to be all on one page. Until we do that, we’re doing to keep having these ups and downs.”
Center Dwight Howard (a recurrence of his gluteal soreness) was limited to seven minutes against the Trail Blazers.