LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Clippers ended their November schedule by dropping their last two games of the month. They begin December with a home defeat to the Sacramento Kings.
The Clippers fell into a deficit in the first quarter and saw the Kings run their way to a 124-115 win. Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said his ballclub’s defensive efforts certainly can improve.
“Transition is one,” Lue said. “We have to do a better job of getting back in transition. Some guys you want to live with making shots, they’ve been making shots. Valanciunas made seven in the first quarter the other night and coming into the game he was three-of-13 and then how many did he make tonight? You saw that right?
“He had zero. It just happens. Going under the pick and roll early with Sacramento, a lot of guys shooting under 25%, they made some shots, so we had to adjust. So, that’s just how it is. You try to come into it with your best game plan, sometimes it doesn’t work, so you have to be able to adjust and we did that, but they had it going and they played well.”
The loss to the Kings is the Clippers’ third defeat in a row and with a three-game road trip that figures to be stiff, getting a win won’t come easy. Minus Paul George, Nicolas Batum, and without Kawhi Leonard in the lineup, the Clippers fielded a starting rotation consisting of Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris Sr., Eric Bledsoe, Serge Ibaka, and Ivica Zubac.
Without a consistent 3-point shooter taking the floor, the Clippers struggled to get it going on the offensive end with the first and third periods being their undoing. The Clippers hoisted up 100 field goal attempts against the Kings with 31 being from the 3-point spot.
Los Angeles converted only nine of their 3-point shots, good enough for just 29 percent.
“I thought we started the game the right way,” Sacramento interim head coach Alvin Gentry said. “I thought for most of the game we played to the level we should from a competitive standpoint. We got out early and got in the open court and that’s when we’re at our best. I thought all the guys gave a total team effort. All the guys who came into the game kept the level of play where it was.”
Led by De’Aaron Fox and his 24 points, all five starters for the Kings scored in double-figures. Rookie Davion Mitchell came off the bench to score 20 points.
It was the second and the third quarters of the game where the Kings did the most of their damage on the offensive end. Sacramento put up 33 points in the second quarter and then broke open the game in the third period with a 37-point outburst that put the Clippers in a deep hole that they could not climb out of.
The Kings made 16 of 23 shots from the field in the third quarter (69 percent), while the Clippers shot at a 40 percent clip. That turned out to be the difference in the ballgame.
“I think we just wanted to come out and do everything hard. Do everything 100 percent; our cuts, coming off down screens. Even defensively. Try to take things away. We didn’t want to get off on a slow start. We called timeout, and the game turned around. I think that’s what we came here to do.”
With the Kings dominating the middle periods, the Clippers failed to match the offensive firepower the visitors from Sacramento displayed. This is the same Sacramento ballclub that whipped up on the Los Angeles Lakers in triple overtime recently.
The Kings, sitting at the No. 11 spot in the Western Conference, have now come into STAPLES Center (Crypto.com Arena) and beaten both the Lakers and Clippers.
Getting out of the gate slowly seems to biome a pattern for the Clippers. In a recent home loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Tyronn Lue’s team managed to put up only 22 points in the first quarter of an eventual 123-104 defeat.
Against the Kings, Los Angeles couldn’t make it past 21 points as the Kings dropped 29 points on them to gain a quick advantage.
“I feel like we started soft,” Zubac said. “Our game plan was to go under most of the guys. I feel like we did it softly. We should’ve been more aggressive. We just let them get into their practice shots; and they were making them. I feel like we came in playing soft. We would let them get to their spots; and they would shoot their practice shots. That was it.”
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He is also the publisher and editor of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. Dennis has more than two decades of reporting experience. His beats include covering sports, social and racial justice, and equal rights. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University. “I write what I’m passionate about.”