Marcus Morris Sr. and the Los Angeles Clippers will look to get back on track when they visit Jaylen Brown and the also-scuffling Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
Morris posted team-highs in points (24) and assists (six) while also grabbing five rebounds in Monday’s game against Brooklyn, but his efforts were not enough for the Clippers to avoid a 124-108 loss to the Nets.
It was the ex-Celtic Morris’ first game back after missing four straight in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
“I thought he was great,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said. “We had him offensively, but you could see he got tired — especially in that first half.”
Eric Bledsoe chipped in 15 points and six assists, Keon Johnson scored 15 off the bench and Luke Kennard scored 10 for Los Angeles, which shot just 38.1 percent (37-of-97) in defeat. The Clippers were overwhelmed by Nets star James Harden’s monster output of 39 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds.
Los Angeles took its second straight defeat and its fifth in sixth games as it tries to navigate life without stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard (ACL tear recovery). George isn’t expected back soon after missing his second straight game Monday with a torn ligament in his right elbow.
L.A. also played without key guard Reggie Jackson, who is in COVID-19 protocol, and center Isaiah Hartenstein (ankle). Moses Wright and Jay Scrubb have also landed in the protocol while guard Nicolas Tatum (ankle) remains day-to-day.
Boston is also coming off a two-game skid and has dropped seven of 10 overall. On Monday, the Celtics let a 12-point lead early in the third quarter slip away in a 108-103 loss at Minnesota.
“(We were) undisciplined defensively, in a lot of ways,” Boston coach Ime Udoka said. “Undisciplined shot taking, as well. (We didn’t get) some of the good looks we got early in the ball movement to get that lead.”
Brown totaled 26 points and 10 rebounds while second-year guard Payton Pritchard added 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Boston, which was without star Jayson Tatum after he entered COVID-19 protocols earlier Monday.
Al Horford contributed 16 points, nine boards and six assists, and Grant Williams scored 15 in their returns from COVID-related absences.
“You have to take pride individually and look at yourself in the mirror and see how you can be better with the things that we need to do,” Horford said of the team’s struggles.
The Celtics played only nine players as starting guard Marcus Smart missed the game with a right-hand laceration, which he suffered in the 117-113 loss at Milwaukee on Christmas Day. Dennis Schroder, Josh Richardson, Enes Freedom, Aaron Nesmith, Bruno Fernando, C.J. Miles and Justin Jackson all remained sidelined in COVID-19 protocols.
Los Angeles escaped with a 114-111 home win in its first matchup versus Boston on Dec. 8.
Tatum scored 29 points in that loss for the Celtics, who played without an injured Brown. Rookie Brandon Boston Jr. paced the Clippers with a career-high 27 points while Morris scored 20 and Jackson had 17.
–Field Level Media