LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – No Paul George. That meant the Los Angeles Clippers would have a tough night against the New Orleans Pelicans in their final play-in tournament game. It turns out that flipped into fruition for the Clippers.
Minus George, the Clippers had to make this a group thing in order to preserve postseason action. Things did not go as planned.
In an intense win-or-go-home game, New Orleans, behind Brandon Ingram’s 30 points, dropped the Clippers from their playoff aspirations, handing Los Angeles a 105-101 loss at Crypto.com Arena.
“Man, first of all, that was very tough going without our best player,” Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. said. “I just told him, Everybody in here (indiscernible) team. We all NBA players, played a lot of the season without P. Just tell guys it’s an opportunity to step up, make a name for they-self. Thought we played really well. Thought guys came in, give us a lot of energy. We just fell short.”
The Pelicans capitalized on the opportunity of the play-in tournament and were able to upset the Clippers. With this loss, the Clippers who were the No. 8 team in the Western Conference, will miss the playoffs.
“I think it’s been an unbelievable season for our guys and everything we had to go through,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said after the game. “Tough situation tonight ending the way it did. It’s most disappointing for those guys in the locker room who fought and clawed all year to end like this, but we have to hold our heads high.”
Before the game had started, the Clippers received a huge blow, with news that George would miss the game against the Pelicans. George had entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols evaluation which forced Lue and the Clippers to adjust their lineup. This was not unfamiliar territory for the Clippers. The Clippers played a good portion of the season without George.
Despite being accustomed to playing without George and Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers were unable to hold off the Pelicans. In a game of runs, this contest saw the Pelicans take control over the game in the first quarter.
Ingram scored 16 of his 30 points in the first quarter, which set the tone for the Pelicans.
New Orleans continued their good play into the second quarter, leading by double digits the whole way. Towards the end of the period, the Clippers chipped away and made a run to cut the lead down to 10.
Going into the second half, the Clippers snatched the momentum from New Orleans. were able to take the lead from the Pelicans. Storming all the way back, the Clippers’ defense and shot-making began to have an impact on the Pelicans.
Containing Ingram and guard CJ McCullum from the Pelicans left the team stagnant on offense. The Clippers looked to be cementing their ticket into the postseason, but Ingram and McCullum came alive in the fourth quarter.
Heading into the final period, the Pelicans were able to take the Clippers’ best punches and still rally back. After being down for almost the entire fourth quarter, the Pelicans recaptured the lead from the Clippers.
Guys stepped up,” Ingram said. “Trey Murphy was big in that fourth quarter, maybe even in the third quarter, just defensive rebounding and knocking down shots. We’re going to need that from him as we continue to go on, for him to knock shots down, be ready and continue to learn the game. Larry Nance came in and was really, really good on the offensive and defensive glass and making smart decisions. We needed something from everybody today.”
Unable to stop offensive rebounds from Larry Nance and constant scoring pressure from Ingram, the Clippers looked out of gas. Trailing by four with less than a minute left, desperate three attempts from the Clippers were unsuccessful and lost to the Pelicans.
Despite what may be a big disappointment in missing the playoffs the Clippers have a lot of optimism and are in good spirits.
“This is a tough loss to take, but the locker was pretty good. It’s a difficult one to swallow, but we are proud of what we accomplished,” said Clippers guard Reggie Jackson.
Missing the playoffs must be a huge disappointment, but with a season riddled with injuries to key players, the Clippers fought hard all year. Expectations were set low by many projections for the Clippers this season. So to compete for a postseason berth in the play-in tournament should be considered some sort of a succes.