The Los Angeles Clippers continue a five-game homestand Saturday with a matinee against a Washington Wizards side desperately seeking to stop a tailspin.
Washington limps into Los Angeles on an eight-game losing streak and losses in 11 of its last 12 games overall, including Wednesday’s opening contest in a grueling, six-game Western Conference road swing.
The Wizards dropped a 141-128 decision at Denver to kick off the road trip, which continues with back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday in Los Angeles.
In giving up a season-high scoring to the Nuggets, Washington dropped its third game in the last four by a double-digit-point margin.
Kristaps Porzingis — the Wizards’ second-leading scorer at 22.6 points per game, and top rebounder with 8.9 per game — missed Wednesday’s contest with back issues. He is listed as day-to-day.
Leading scorer Bradley Beal, averaging 22.9 points per game, also missed the Denver game while dealing with a day-to-day hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, Washington shot a dreadful 13 of 23 from the free-throw line in the loss.
“An area of concentration, maybe,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said of the team’s foul-shooting woes.
Washington ranks in the lower-third of the NBA with a season-long average of 75.9 percent at the stripe.
“Guys just have got to step up and make free throws,” Unseld said. “It’s part of the details … all that matters. The margin is thin right now. We need every possession, we need every free throw, every bit of it.”
Will Barton came off the bench in Denver for 22 points and nine assists, following an outing of 22 points and seven assists in Monday’s 112-100 loss to Brooklyn. Barton’s play is a bright spot for Washington amid the dismal stretch it will try to reverse against the Clippers.
Los Angeles comes into Saturday’s matchup off of a 111-95 loss to Phoenix, which snapped the Clippers’ three-game winning streak. Thursday’s outcome marked the first loss in Los Angeles’ homestand, which has two more dates left before the Clippers embark on a five-game, Eastern Conference road swing.
Terance Mann scored 22 points in the loss, stepping up with both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard out of the rotation.
Leonard’s absence was scheduled rest on the second night of a back-to-back. He finished with 19 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday’s 99-88 defeat of Minnesota, and 25 points with nine rebounds and six assists in a 20-point rout of NBA-leading Boston on Monday.
George missed Thursday’s game with knee soreness. Both of the former All-NBA selections could be available Saturday, but their ongoing struggles to return to full strength has been a battle for the Clippers to overcome.
“It’s not something where we’re actually just resting guys,” Los Angeles coach Tyronn Lue said following Thursday’s loss. “Guys are banged up.”
That also includes reserve contributors Norman Powell and Luke Kennard. Powell last played on Nov. 29 due to a groin injury, while Kennard missed 10 of 11 games from mid-November into early December.
Kennard scored in double figures in three consecutive games, including a season-high 16 points Wednesday against Minnesota, before missing Thursday’s game with a calf injury.
–Field Level Media