The Los Angeles Clippers visit the Washington Wizards on Sunday in the second leg of a six-game road swing, looking to gain some more momentum away from home.
The Clippers have been excellent in Los Angeles at Staples Center, winning nine straight — including a 150-125 rout of the Wizards on Dec. 1. Away from home has been considerably spottier.
Los Angeles won back-to-back road games for the first team all season on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27 over Dallas and Memphis, but have since dropped two straight on the road. The most recent was a 119-91 blowout defeat at Milwaukee on Friday, in the first game of the current swing.
“We just got to compete better. But sometimes teams play better than you. They want a game more than you. I think tonight they showed that. I think we just showed up to play,” guard Lou Williams told the Los Angeles Times following the loss.
The Clippers are just 3-6 away from home. Washington has been up-and-down both on the road and at home, but comes into Sunday’s matchup having recently knocked off an opponent that, like the Clippers, has legitimate NBA Finals aspirations.
Washington beat the Philadelphia 76ers at Capital One Arena on Thursday, 119-113. Reflective of the Wizards’ season, however, they dropped the follow-up game Friday in Miami, 112-103.
“One of the toughest back-to-backs in the East, playing Philadelphia and then a long flight down to Miami and playing against a good, physical, talented, aggressive, tough basketball team,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks told the Washington Post. “We competed. Nothing to be ashamed of. We ran out of gas a little bit.”
Washington running into depth issues could be a concern again with its third game in four days, and a bevy of injuries. The most notably absences from the lineup are guard Isaiah Thomas with a calf injury, and center Thomas Bryant with a stress fracture in his foot.
Those are in addition to the loss of All-Star guard John Wall, who sustained a torn Achilles’ tendon in November of 2018.
The Wizards have leaned heavily on Bradley Beal in the meantime. He is averaging better than 28 points per game. Forward Rui Hachimura has also been key for the Wizards, garnering some early Rookie of the Year buzz with his 14.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
Los Angeles has rarely had the same lineup with any consistency on the season, playing the first month without All-Star forward Paul George. Reigning NBA Finals Kawhi Leonard has also missed time to rest a knee injury.
At Milwaukee, the Clippers were without JaMychal Green and Landry Shamet. Patrick Patterson was pulled from the loss due to a back injury.
Leonard has been the Clippers’ pillar with averages of 24.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists, while the bench duo of Williams and Montrezl Harrell provide the depth and spark that Washington’s injury-plagued lineup has struggled to find.
Between Leonard, Harrell, Williams and George, Los Angeles has four players averaging at least 18 points per game. Washington has only Beal producing above that mark.
–Field Level Media