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Clippers beat Pistons 126-112; Paul George misses second half with hamstring injury
By Jonathan Bassey, Contributing Writer
Published January 3, 2020

Sacramento Kings forward Richaun Holmes, left, tries to block the shot of Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. The Clippers won 105-87. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The Los Angeles Clippers started 2020 off with a win over the Detroit Pistons, 126-112. The Clippers won this contest but were stung once again by the injury bug as Paul George did not play the entire second half due to a hamstring injury.

“He just felt tightness. He said it at halftime. We just decided not to bring him back, so he’s going to be evaluated clearly,” said Head Coach Doc Rivers about the all-star forward. “I think it’s the back more than the legs, but I’m not sure. I would’ve taken him out [regardless of the score].”

The Clippers started the game lackluster and slow on defense. The Pistons had a plethora of wide open looks from deep and kept up with the number two team in the West in the first half.

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The offense was clicking on all cylinders early as Kawhi Leonard drove to the basket aggressively executing a sweet spin move and finish for the and-1 layup with 3:22 left in the first quarter. Montrezl Harrell, the teams enforcer this season drove to the basket getting the basket to fall and the foul call, but the Clippers were still having trouble distancing themselves. 

The neck and neck battle continued for the rest of the first half with a smooth Kawhi crossover, drive to the paint and 10 foot pull up jumper hitting nothing but net. 

On the following possession Pistons center Andre Drummond imposed his will on Zubac blocking his layup attempt.

With 3:08 left to play in the first half, the Clippers veteran swingman Maurice Harkless drove in the paint flushing down the one-handed slam, giving LA a 60-58 lead that would not be relinquished throughout the contest.  

“I love when [Harkless] plays at that pace. He guarded and rebounded, but more importantly, when he pushes the ball up the floor, it gives us another ball-handler that they can account for, said Doc about Harkless who contributed with 12 points. “I loved the speed and pace that he played with tonight. We need that every night. That was great.”

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The Clippers put the game away in the third quarter with a dominant display of defense, holding the Pistons to a mere 16 points. 

“I enjoyed our third quarter. We came out with energy and held them to 16 points. We got out in transition and ran the floor,” said Kawhi about the intensity after halftime. “Those are the things that I liked. We adjusted at halftime and came in doing a good job defensively.”

 

The Clippers bench is one of the deepest in the NBA and was the difference-maker in the game. Lou Williams netted 22 points with three three-pointers, and Montrezl Harrell led the Clippers in scoring with 23 points. 

“Well, again, they have a deep team. They have a deep three-point shooting team. [They have] a very athletic team with center Montrezl Harrell who, I think, is one of the top centers in our league with some of the best hands in our league,” said Pistons Head Coach Dwane Casey about Clippers depth.

“They are deep. I had Lou Williams in Toronto and I know what he can do off the bench. He is a one-man wrecking crew. Again, they are a very deep team and we are going to get there,” said Casey.

 

Former NBA commissioner David Stern passed away at age 77 from a brain hemorrhage. A leader who changed the game for years to come was remembered by a pre-game tribute along with a moment of silence. 

“He’s done so much for this game. My heart goes out to his family. It’s something that no one ever wants to have to go through, especially a person that was respected and has done so much for us as players in this game. It’s tough. Like I said, my heart goes out to his family and may he rest in peace,” said Harrell about the former commissioner. 

The Clippers will host the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday with hopes of keeping 2020 steamrolling with another victory. 

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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