The Los Angeles Clippers acquired an All-Star duo in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the offseason, setting the team up to be one of the toughest competitors in 2019-20. George has been unable to play through the start of the year due to two shoulder surgeries, leaving the Clippers bench to fill the void and make adjustments as needed.
The first 11 games of their schedule are stacked with eight teams that participated in the playoffs the prior year. In the first two games of the season, the Clippers faced the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors and the bench made all the difference in scoring which allowed them to come out on top. Next, the Clippers took on the worst team in the West last year, the Phoenix Suns and shockingly suffered their first loss. Ending off at home they played the Charlotte Hornets, where Leonard led the team to another victory.
Clippers Show out in the Battle of LA: 112-102
The Clippers took on the Los Angeles Lakers led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the Staples Center in the first game of the season. They were led to victory by Kawhi, who scored 30 points and also created a run after hitting seven straight shots in one stretch. Several players on the Clippers side stepped up in scoring points such as Lou Williams, who added 21 points and Montrezl Harrell who also had 17 points off the bench.
On the Lakers side, Davis scored 25 points and James had 18. As reported by the Associated Press, Danny Green outscored both players with 28 points, marking the highest-scoring debut by a Laker in history. Despite this record-breaking performance, the Clippers bench outshined the Lakers as they contributed over 60 points.
Clippers Spoil Debut of Warriors New Arena: 144-122
The Los Angeles Clippers then defeated the Golden State Warriors, who have been NBA Finalists for the last five seasons, in their first game at the new Chase Center. Lou Williams and Kawhi Leonard were key players for the Clippers, producing 22 and 21 points. Patrick Patterson, making his second start of the season, scored 20 points, including going 6-of-10 from 3-point range. Additionally, Ivica Zubac scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds. The Warriors’ stars Stephen Curry and D’Angelo Russell produced 23 and 20 points but it wasn’t enough to avoid their nightmare defeat.
The turning point in the game was the third quarter when the Clippers outscored the Warriors 39-19, over a span of eight minutes in the period extending their lead by 31 points.
Draymond Green veteran on the Warriors was not pleased with the performance he states: “Our defense was pathetic.”
Phoenix Suns Hand Clippers Their First Loss of the Season: 130-122
The Clippers are no longer perfect after the Phoenix Suns ended their winning streak. Going into halftime to two teams were tied at 55 and the Suns had led for the majority of the game. On the Clippers side of scoring, Montrezl Harrell’s 28 points and Kawhi Leonard added 27 points, eight rebounds, and 10 assists. Patrick Beverley fouled out late in the fourth quarter and finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Devin Booker confidently scored 30 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. followed with 20 points. They were short of Deandre Ayton who is on a 25 game suspension and also Ricky Rubio who didn’t play as he is dealing with a left knee contusion. The Suns were at a 91-85 lead after three quarters largely thanks to the unlikely duo of Frank Kaminsky III and Jevon Carter, who combined for 17 points during the run.
As David Brandt of NBC Los Angeles reported, Oubre said “Everybody chipped in. We fought through adversity once again, we’re finding who we are and we’re continuing to grow. That’s the most beautiful thing about it.”
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers also spoke on the Suns performance, stating that “they just played so much better.”
Clippers Get Back on Track Winning Over Charlotte Hornets: 111-96
Kawhi Leonard didn’t make it easy for the Hornets, pouring in 30 points along with Lou Williams adding 23 points. Terry Rozier was the lead scorer on the Hornets side with 17 points. Cody Zeller finished the night with a double-double registering 14 points and 13 rebounds. Although the Hornets were hanging on in the first half, the Clippers were able to extend a run in the second half to finish the game ahead by 15 points.
The Clippers utilized their defense to keep the Hornets from scoring during the last stretch of the game.
Greg Beacham of Associated Press reports “We’ve got to come in every game with a defensive hat on first, and we did that tonight,” Leonard said. “It’s still early. We’ve got a long road ahead of us. We’re still building chemistry, getting to know each other on the floor. I wouldn’t say we’re there yet. We’ve got to keep going.”
The Clippers finished this week 3-1 and George is expected to make his debut in mid-November. Between now and his anticipated return time frame, LA will go up against some of the league’s best teams including the Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors.