Harden and PG13 sizzle as Nets outlast Clippers

LOS ANGELES, CA – It was a tough night for the Los Angeles Clippers. Fresh off a win against the Utah Jazz, the Clippers lost their home game against the Brooklyn Nets because of a couple of things they did not do well. The two categories that bear this truth were the game’s difference-makers.

The Clippers lost the turnover battle and got outplayed in the paint.

As a result, the Clippers failed to contain the magic of James Harden, Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Nets from having their way underneath the basket. Harden poured in a game-high 37 points, while Irving chipped in 28 to lead Brooklyn past Los Angeles.

The Clippers played sloppy ball all night, turning the ball over 16 times. The Nets only committed six miscues. But the biggest statistical number to come out of the Nets’ 112-108 defeat of the Clippers at STAPLES Center was the point totals that Brooklyn managed to stockpile. When it comes to points in the paint, it wasn’t even close. Brooklyn scored 60 points down low.

The Clippers, on the other hand, managed to score just 38 points inside the paint. You can blame it on the defense, something the Nets are not known for. The Clippers hoisted up 35 three-pointers for the game, converting 15 of those attempts. With the Nets bottling up the inside with their defensive switching, the Clippers became too reliant on the 3-point shot.

“We got 35 threes which is way better than we’ve been given,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said after the game. “But I don’t think I like the shots that we got by getting those threes. It’s like we couldn’t get to the paint. We couldn’t get by our man, they switched everything, we got matchups we wanted.

“I just feel like we couldn’t attack them to make them put two on the ball,” Lue added. “We settled for a lot of jump shots. We didn’t get to the paint to make the next play or make the next pass for another guy. And that hurt us. It made us stagnant. Like I said, a lot of times, they gave us the matchup we wanted. Landy Shamet and Kyrie [Irving] on [Paul George] and Kawhi [Leonard] and our guys, and we just weren’t able to capitalize on it.”

The game had an odd feel for some of the Nets players. Center DeAndre Jordan, guard Landry Shamet and forward Jeff Green all played on the STAPLES Center floor as members of the Clippers at one point during their careers.  None of the three players played particularly well. But they didn’t need to with Harden and Irving chipping away at the Clippers defense.

The good news for the Clippers, if there is any in a defeat, is that they could have called it a night once they got down by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter. With Paul George scoring 12 of his team-high 34 points in the final period, the Clippers were able to rally and make a late run at the Nets.

They came up short. Brooklyn’s defense had something to do with it, George said.

“We just fell into the trap. With their defense, they do a lot of switching and we just tried to manipulate the matchups and kind of got out of our game of moving the ball and taking care of the ball. Again, it is just the unique and different defense that they run that kind of got us out of our game a little bit.”

In their last four games at home, the Clippers have played three of the best teams in the NBA: Miami Heat, Utah Jazz (twice), and now the Nets. The Clippers split the four games, winning two of the contests.  Despite the loss to Brooklyn, who was without the services of Kevin Durant, Clippers center Ivica Zubac said the team can learn from the defeat and move forward.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a setback,” Zubac said. “Every game is different in the league and there’s a lot we can learn in every game, no matter that be a loss or a win. And we’re going to go look at the film, we’re going to see where we made mistakes. We’re going to see what worked for us, and just make adjustments.”

Feature image: Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

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