The Clippers are rediscovering their groove with fifth win in a row
The LA Clippers had an awful start to the season. Even with Kawhi Leonard’s injury being factored in, it still didn’t look great when they started 1-4. They had found their groove back over the last four games, winning all of them to get back to a winning record, and they looked to push that streak to five against the Portland Trail Blazers at home.
It was a furiously contested game that saw 14 lead changes and 5 ties. However, the Clippers were the ones with the answers in the end, and they’re now 6-4 after securing the 117-109 victory at home.
Paul George had 24 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in the contest while shooting 10 of 24 from the field. Reggie Jackson had 23 points and 6 assists, while Nicolas Batum scored 22 points while making 6 of 8 of his threes. Isaiah Hartenstein proved to be a spark plug from the bench with 14 points on 7 shots.
George had no mercy on the Blazers, and came up big in the fourth quarter.
Damian Lillard had 27 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists, but again didn’t perform to his lofty standards as he shot 11 of 23 overall and 4 of 13 from deep. Lillard is yet to eclipse the 30-point mark this season. Lillard’s funk is extremely concerning for Blazers fans, as he’s currently averaging 19.2 PPG through his first 11 games. The last time he averaged under 20.7 PPG was in the 2012-13 season, which was his rookie campaign. He averaged 28.8 PPG last season, and 30.0 PPG in the season before that.
The Sixers fought hard, but came up short down the stretch against the Bucks
The Philadelphia 76ers were missing superstar Joel Embiid, plus Seth Curry, Tobias Harris, and the still-absent Ben Simmons, yet still gave the defending champions a tough fight until the end. The Milwaukee Bucks were also short-handed, missing Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton, but Giannis Antetokounmpo would not be denied down the stretch.
Antetokounmpo finished the game with 31 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks with 0 turnovers while making 12 of 26 shots. With the game still hanging in the balance at 109-107 with 2:10 left in the game, Giannis sank a pair of free throws (having shot 5 of 11 from the charity stripe before taking those attempts), dished a dime to Grayson Allen for an assist with 1:30 on the clock, and then slammed in an alley oop with 59.8 seconds left to key a 7-2 run that put the game out of reach. A pair of free throws from Allen sealed the final scoreline of 118-109.
Allen was hugely important in his own right, scoring 25 points while shooting 8 of 13 from the field, 5 of 9 from deep, and 4 of 4 from the free throw line. Bobby Portis filled in for Lopez again in the starting lineup and had 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and 2 blocks while shooting 4 of 8 from beyond the arc.
You’ve got to give the Sixers credit for their toughness, though, and Andre Drummond finished with 17 points and 20 rebounds in Joel Embiid’s absence. Tyrese Maxey gave it his all as well with 31 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block. Shake Milton had 20 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists while Georges Niang chipped in 21 points off the bench before fouling out.
With Embiid out, they just didn’t have a go-to guy that they could pump the ball to when the game was tight. They also lacked a stable playmaker in the final two minutes of the game, which contributed to the lead getting blown open. The Sixers were in the game up until that stretch, and the game saw 15 lead changes and four ties. They’ve certainly got heart, but missing personnel is definitely going to be an issue for at least the next few weeks.
Trae Young and Kevin Huerter held scoreless in the fourth quarter by the Jazz
Trae Young and Kevin Huerter had pretty good games against the Utah Jazz. Young had 27 points and 6 assists while Huerter had 28 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. However, neither player managed to score in the fourth quarter in the 110-98 defeat in Salt Lake City as the Jazz decided to make it an ugly end to the game for the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks started with an 11-3 run, but then the Jazz grinned them down to take control of the fourth quarter. Utah ended up outscoring Atlanta 18-15 in that period.
The Jazz had five players score in double figures, led by Donovan Mitchell and his 27 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists. Bogdan Bogdanovic managed to add 18, while Jordan Clarkson had 16 off the bench as their third-leading scorer for the game. Rudy Gobert only had 9 points, but made his presence felt with an additional 14 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
The Hawks, who made the Eastern Conference Finals last season, are currently in free-fall mode. They now have a 4-8 record after today, and the loss in Utah was their fifth in a row. The Jazz pushed themselves to second in the west with an 8-3 record.