The Los Angeles Clippers (24-14) extended their losing streak to 3 games after being defeated tonight by the Washington Wizards (14-20) 119-117 at Capitol One Arena. The Clippers got Kawhi Leonard back for this game, but were once again without Paul George (dizziness). LAC looked pretty good for most of the first half despite turning the ball over at a high clip. They built a lead as high as 16 points. They started to slip toward the end of the second quarter, allowing Washington to go on run. Although they still took a 7 point lead into the half. Wizards Cast Spell on Clippers
The Wizards must have casted a collective spell in the locker-room at halftime. In the second half they seized momentum and won the following two quarters and the game. The Clippers made it close enough to win if everything went their way at the end by playing the foul game well and making a couple clutch 3’s. Unfortunately everything did not go their way. With less than 10 seconds to go in a one possession game Davis Bertans raked Ivica Zubac across the face. The foul was reviewed for a possible flagrant. If it was upgraded the Clippers would’ve had free-throws + possession with a chance to take the lead and very well the game.
The worst official in the NBA, Tony Brothers, was not having that as he ruled the foul was common. LAC still almost nearly won. As they were down 2 with 7 seconds to go Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura missed a free throw. Then Bradley Beal swooped in for an offensive rebound and dribbled away the remaining seconds. The Clips close out the first half of the season on whimper; they go into the All-Star break on a lull. But, they will now get a much needed break to charge up and get back to full health.
STAR OF THE GAME
Russell Westbrook was one rebound away from yet another triple double as he put up 27 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, and 4 steals. This was a game the Wizards won due to their hustle. Former MVP Westbrook brings that hustle every second he is on the floor. He plays at 100 mph on every play. Westbrook is a guy who never turns off his turbo mode, and it showed tonight as he was everywhere. He has regressed from the free throw line, but his leadership and determination have done the opposite. He has given playoff hopes to a what would be a bottom-dweller team without him.
Teams take on the personality of their best player, and the Wizards have adopted the “play every play like it is your last” mentality of Russ. Coming into this game just looking at the Wizards record, you would think that Clippers should take the game rather easily. But the Clippers have been slipping lately, while the Wiz had won 7 out of their last 10. The Wiz’s recent surge has been on the back of Westbrook as he has taught them to never give up even in the face of certain defeat. This was a one possession game in the end, and the heart and hustle of Westbrook was the difference.
All of the problems that have plagued the Clippers all year, reared their ugly heads in this game. They failed to hold onto another double-digit lead. The Clippers turned it over far too much (17 times). They were missing key players (Paul George and Marcus Morris Sr.). Finally, they failed in the clutch. Not their fault, but they were once again victims of terrible officiating. I have complained at length about every single one of those issues, but it is still rather encouraging in this loss that despite so much going wrong they were still right there at the end.
If just one or two things had gone their way ( Paul George playing or Tony Brothers actually making the right call on Bertans) they would have won. There has been too much ” woulda coulda shoulda” from the team lately. In the end the standings do not take into account the petty bs that costed you, just the W’s and L’s. Fortunately, this skid has come at a good time. Going into the All-Star break, they will have a week to rest up and regroup. The team needs time to figure out how to eliminate these weaknesses in the second half of the season.
I am going to go with Robin Lopez and his 10 points and 7 rebounds off the bench for the Wizards. Of his 7 rebounds 5 of them were offensive. Each one those extra possessions proved to be crucial in what turned out to be a one possession game. His +/- was not good as he was -18, but this may be misleading in this instance as the Wiz very much needed him to emerge victorious. While he was out there he played with the same fierce energy as team leader Russell Westbrook, and did not give up on a single play.
He fought hard for every loose ball, every rebound, and played tough defense. He is not as good as an offensive player as his twin brother Brooke Lopez, but he is a much better defender. Probably because he would have to defend Brooke when they would play 1 on 1 growing up. He’s not a guy who gets a lot of adulation, but he definitely deserves some as he is a solid player and solid guy who always seems to find a team in need of his services. He may have a girls name, but he plays like a man for sure.
Golden State Warriors, Thursday, March 11th, 7:00pm PT
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