Clippers record blowout win of Kings

The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Sacramento Kings, 119-99. On Tuesday, the Clippers got it early after getting out to a 70-48 halftime lead and never looked back.

The Clippers are finally hitting their stride and have won five games in a row, bringing their record to 13-10. Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue’s squad got off to a shaky start to the year and initially struggled to integrate James Harden into their offense after trading for the veteran guard early in the season.

“Early on, it was tough for us trying to figure out how we wanted to play, trying to figure out rotations and all those different things, how James, PG, Kawhi, and Russ play together,” said Lue after the win. “Just every day, continuing to try to get better. We still got a long way to go, but we are trending in the right direction. We are doing a lot of good things. We just have to stay with it and continue to put in the work.”

Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann (14) gets harrassed by a Sacramento Kings defender during an NBA game played on Dec. 12, 2023. The Clippers defeated the Kings, 119-99. Photo credit: Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

Harden, who is now on his fourth team in four years,  has found his groove. The former MVP called himself a “system” when he was first traded to LA, and the system finally looks like a well-oiled machine. Harden ran the offense to perfection and repeatedly created open looks for his fellow teammates. He ended the night with 15 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in only 28 minutes.

The combination of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is one of the most dynamic duos in the league when healthy. Adding a locked-in Harden to the mix makes the Clippers serious title contenders, and the plan is starting to come to fruition.

“We are locked in defensively, and that is where it all starts for us,” said Lue. “When we get stops and get out in transition, we are a hard team to beat. It all started on the defensive end when we got stops early on and were able to get out and run.”

Despite being an aging roster in a modern NBA that values offense, the Clippers still pride themselves on the defensive side of the ball. A tenacious effort on that side of the floor held the Kings to under a hundred points for only the fourth time this year. Sacramento scores over 117 points per game, good for eight in the league.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard tries to block the pathway to the basket from Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis during an NBA game played at Arena on Dec. 12, 2023. Photo credit: Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

Kawhi Leonard is on an absolute tear over the past three games, scoring a combined 106 points. The two-time Finals MVP is making the load-managing accusations a thing of the past, as the star forward has played in all 23 games this season. At 32 years of age, Leonard is still a dominant force.

“Coming off of an ACL, we were definitely managing minutes and my workload to make sure I stay healthy,” said Leonard after the game. “Just being healthy has been good.”

Los Angeles will look to make it six in a row on Thursday when they have a date with the Warriors at Arena.

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