Clippers can't overcome slow start, fall to Kings for third straight loss
It's always difficult to get into a rhythm out of the All-Star break, and especially so when you're down two starters.
Such was the case for the L.A. Clippers at the STAPLES Center this afternoon, where they fell to the Sacramento Kings by a final score of 112-103.
This is the second time the Clippers have lost to the Kings at home this season. The first came on January 30, when Sacramento shot lights-out from three-point range to win by 21.
From the start, very little went L.A.'s way. The Clippers stumbled out of the gate and scored just 13 points in the first quarter on 4-of-24 shooting, while the Kings led by as many as 14 in those first 12 minutes.
The offense improved in the second and third quarters, as the Clippers scored 35 points in each. But the Kings followed suit, scoring a combined 65 points in the same span. It was a five-point contest entering the final frame.
The Clippers looked as good in the first few minutes of the fourth as they did all game, and with 8:29 to play, Montrezl Harrell gave them their first lead of the day. Momentum appeared to be favoring the Clippers — but it wouldn't be long until the Kings would take it right back.
After Reggie Jackson hit a lead-changing three-pointer with 6:03 to play, the Clippers went scoreless for the next five minutes until Kawhi Leonard scored with less than a minute left on the clock. But by then, it was too little too late.
Leonard did have an impressive game all-around, collecting 31 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in 36 minutes. Lou Williams wasn't far behind with 24 (but committed a career-high 8 turnovers) and Harrell went for 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Jackson was the Clipper with the most eyes on him. With Patrick Beverley on the sidelines, the Clippers' latest addition started in his first game with his new team and recorded 8 points, 2 rebounds and 4 assists in 22 minutes. Jackson shot 3-of-9 overall and 2-of-6 from deep as well.
The offense looked good when he was on the floor, and his assist total would have been higher had the Clippers found some consistency in the first quarter.
The loss is L.A.'s third straight — the team's longest streak of the season. The Clippers don't play again until Monday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Fortunately, Beverley and Paul George could be good to suit up in that one.