The Los Angeles Clippers haven’t been slowed by the Sacramento Kings in recent years.
Not at home and certainly not on the road.
The Clippers will try for their 10th consecutive win against the Kings and 14th straight in Sacramento when they meet on Tuesday afternoon in the first of four games this season.
The Kings haven’t defeated the Clippers since March 26, 2017, and haven’t beat them in Sacramento since March 19, 2013.
The game marks the beginning of a key stretch against sub .500 opponents that should allow Los Angeles to move up in the standings.
The next five opponents for the Clippers — and eight of their next nine — entered this week with losing records. But the Clippers might have to get by without starting point guard Patrick Beverley, who is one of their best defenders.
Beverley injured his right wrist in a 120-107 loss against the visiting Utah Jazz on Saturday night. X-rays were negative, but coach Doc Rivers was concerned after the game.
An illness also filtered through the team, causing power forward Montrezl Harrell to miss the Utah game.
The team’s leading scorer, Kawhi Leonard, also felt ill before the game and said he likely would have sat out if the Clippers weren’t already shorthanded. Small forward Paul George began feeling ill during the game as well.
Leonard downplayed the effect of the illnesses, however.
“We had a chance to win the game,” he said. “We missed some open shots. The effect is probably just on our energy a little bit.”
The Kings have lost their past seven games, but a few positives have arisen of late.
Starting point guard De’Aaron Fox returned on Sunday after missing a game with a lower-back injury, and he had 18 points and 13 assists in the 120-115 loss at the Denver Nuggets.
Starting power forwards Nemanja Bjelica and Richaun Holmes combined for 45 points on 19-of-26 shooting, and backup power forward Harry Giles III played a season-high 17 minutes and scored a season-best 11 points.
“I thought Harry gave us some pretty nice minutes off the bench,” Kings coach Luke Walton told reporters following the loss. “It’s what we talk about with our guys — stay ready because opportunity will come, and his opportunity came (Sunday) night and he proved that he was ready.”
The Clippers are hoping George can escape his recent shooting slump. He’s shooting 31.8 percent from the floor in the past four games.
George said he needs to get back to using his body and long arms to create more space to work.
“I just watched a lot of clips and I’ve kind of been shying away from the contact, so it’s not putting me in positions where I’ve been successfully scoring,” he said. “I just have to get over that hump.”
George said a lot of it is mental. He battled shoulder problems last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder before undergoing two offseason surgeries, causing him to sit out the first three weeks of this season.
“A lot of plays that I had last year before the injury started, I was finishing through contact and finishing through defenders,” he said. “This year, I’ve been shying away from the contact. So, it’s just getting it through my head that I’m fine with the physicality.”
–Field Level Media