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Clippers

Clippers know why they lost to 76ers: lack of ball movement

Clippers center Ivica Zubac and forward Kawhi Leonard try to prevent 76ers center Joel Embiid from scoring during a game Feb. 11, 2020, in Philadelphia.
Clippers center Ivica Zubac and forward Kawhi Leonard try to prevent 76ers center Joel Embiid from scoring during their game Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

Going by the box score alone would not have suggested Tuesday‘s game resulted in a Clippers loss.

Philadelphia won 110-103 despite making only eight three-pointers on 29.6% shooting. The Clippers had been 11-0 when holding opponents to fewer than nine made three-pointers, 16-1 when allowing 10 or fewer and 19-0 when opponents made fewer than 30% of their shots beyond the arc.

The Clippers’ nine turnovers were also the second fewest they committed in a loss this season, and five fewer than their season average.

“I mean, we played well,” All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard said. “We fought to the end.”

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But if coach Doc Rivers’ team held onto possessions better than it had in more than two weeks, it squandered its chance to be only the third team to beat Philadelphia on its home court through an offense that relied more on isolation plays instead of passing the ball.

“We played into their hands of playing one-on-one ball,” forward Paul George said. “If we move the ball and kept it hopping, we would have been successful.”

Los Angeles leaned on its three-point shooting more heavily than usual, with 41% of its points coming from beyond the arc — 11 percentage points more than its season average.

“It’s a learning experience trying to get everybody incorporated,” recently acquired forward Marcus Morris said. “Personally, just trying to give guys space and just get the ball moving and bodies moving. I think that starts with me, too, because just switching from the three [position] to the four, I have to continue to set screens, continue to cut, continue to help each other out.”

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The Clippers acquired Marcus Morris not only to complement Kawhi Leonard and Paul George when the roster is at full strength but also to fill the void when it is not.

The Clippers must learn from their mistakes quickly entering Thursday’s matchup against a Boston team that is 22-5 at home and features the kind of long-armed, athletic wings that will act as another litmus test. One of those wings, Jaylen Brown, was listed by Boston as probable to play with a bruised left calf. Brown averages 20.2 points.

Guard Patrick Beverley will sit out his fourth consecutive game because of an injured groin, leaving the Clippers to account for Boston point guard Kemba Walker, who ranks in the 96th percentile in scoring as a ballhandler in pick-and-roll plays, according to Synergy Sports.

UP NEXT

AT BOSTON

When: 5 p.m. PST, Thursday.

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket, TNT; Radio: 570.

Update: The Celtics (37-16) are led by All-Star forward Jayson Tatum’s 22.1 points per game. The Clippers (37-17) beat Boston in overtime on Nov. 20 in the teams’ only other matchup this season. This is the last game for both teams before the All-Star break in Chicago.


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