Clippers focusing on defense ahead of matchup with Warriors

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Defense has been an issue recently for the Los Angeles Clippers. However, they’ve had four days to work on it before they host the struggling Golden State Warriors on Friday.

“We just had a lot of slippage,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers after Wednesday’s practice, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We had a lot of games with a lot of no practice, even no shootarounds, so you’re going to have slippage. We had it. We couldn’t pick a better time for the practice to come around.”

Los Angeles allowed 118.2 points per game in its last five contests, including a season-high 140 in a 26-point loss at home to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. They averaged 117.4 points, posting a 3-2 mark during that span.

Overall, Los Angeles have given up 109.8 points per outing, which ranked 15th in the league through Wednesday’s contests. They are scoring at a 115.8 clip per contest, the fourth-best in the NBA behind the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks and the Dallas Mavericks.

The Clippers were without Paul George (hamstring) and Patrick Beverley (wrist) against the Grizzlies, but Rivers was far from pleased with effort.

“We should play better. I’ve got to coach better, and we should play better,” Rivers told reporters after the Memphis defeat.

The Clippers gave up 132 in a three-point win a day later over the New York Knicks. The game started similar to their contest with the Grizzlies, with the Clippers allowing the Knicks to enjoy a hot start, scoring 45 first-quarter points before turning the game around in the second quarter and holding off the Knicks late for the victory.

Kawhi Leonard didn’t play since the club holds him out of back-to-back contests to alleviate a lingering knee injury.

Despite the lulls and inconsistency on both ends of the ball, a few tweaks and handling their business should return them to form, Clippers guard Lou Williams said.

“Just being mentally tough and just making sure everybody’s on the same page,” Williams said, according to the Times. “As far as our bodies go, we just gotta do a good job of taking care of our bodies, managing your minutes, managing the things that you do off the court and be ready to go on game days. We got about four weeks left before we get another break, so we just gotta get through it and be the best we can.”

The Warriors have lost six straight. They were competitive before falling 107-98 at home Wednesday to the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks, who own the NBA’s best record at 33-6. Alec Burks scored 19 points off the bench for the Warriors, who are 3-17 on the road. Damion Lee and Glenn Robinson III each scored 15.

“Our pace was not great in the first half and it picked up in the second half,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said afterward. “I thought we were a little tentative in the first half. They’re a great team, obviously the best team in the league and the best defense in the league.”

Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell is expected to miss his sixth consecutive game with a shoulder injury.

Golden State has allowed opponents to score 112.8 points per game, which ranked 20th in the league through Wednesday’s games. They were averaging 104.9 points, which was 26th.

The Clippers hammered the Warriors 141-122 on Oct. 24 behind 22 points from Williams.

–Field Level Media

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