NBA: Clippers expect to have star cast against Spurs
The Los Angeles Clippers look to get back on the winning track and hope to have their top two scorers back in the lineup Friday when they face the Spurs in San Antonio.
The Clippers play the second game of four-game road trip that began Wednesday with a 126-103 walloping at Utah. Los Angeles has lost two straight games and nine of its past 11. Norman Powell led the short-handed Clippers with 30 points while Ivica Zubac chipped in 15 points and 12 boards in the loss.
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Reggie Jackson added 11 off the bench, Nicolas Batum also scored 11 and Marcus Morris Sr. hit for 10 for Los Angeles, which never led in Wednesday’s loss and shot just 40.2 percent from the floor.
The Clippers were on the second game of a home-road back-to-back and played without Paul George (rest), Kawhi Leonard (rest), John Wall (abdominal injury) and Luke Kennard (sore calf). George recently returned from a hamstring injury.
“There’s a lot of turnover with guys on minute restrictions, load management, and things like that,” Powell said afterward. “But we are just sticking together, staying in the fight and trying to make the right reads and play the right way defensively.”
Los Angeles plays nine of its next 10 contests as the road team, with one of those against the Lakers.
The Spurs look to wrap up a four-game homestand with successive victories after beating the short-handed Brooklyn Nets 106-98 on Tuesday. Keldon Johnson scored a career-high 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the win, which snapped a five-game slide for San Antonio.
In a reversal of a stretch in which they lost eight of nine games, the Spurs produced a dominating third quarter and held on. Tuesday’s game was tied at halftime before San Antonio surged to the front to take a 76-68 advantage into the final period.
Brooklyn closed to within four points twice in the fourth quarter but the Spurs made the plays down the stretch, with Johnson scoring five points and Tre Jones sinking a pair of free throws to cement the win.
Johnson said his career-best scoring game came from just being aggressive.
“Going downhill. Going to the foul line,” Johnson said. “I’m always going to shoot it when I’m open, and in the flow of the game, with the shot clock and everything like that, it depends. But I’m comfortable with my shot, and I’ll keep on shooting it.”
Jeremy Sochan scored 16 points, all in the first half, for San Antonio while Jones added 13 and Jakob Poeltl hit for 12 in the win.
“We had a really good second half of transition,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We moved the ball really well. I thought, as usual, our grunt was good. We didn’t shoot that well for a good portion of the game but they kept on playing like they always do.”
The Clippers won the first two games between the teams this season, winning in November by seven points on the road and by 22 at home. The teams will play again Thursday in Los Angeles.
–Field Level Media
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