LOS ANGELES – The Clippers had just convincingly defeated the team that not only came into play on Monday with the best NBA record and won 20 of their previous 21 games – but also ended their playoff streak last season’s playoffs in the Western Conference Finals.
Even so, neither Clipper pumped his fist or hammered his chest after their 111-95 win over the Phoenix Suns. The response in the makeshift interview room under the Staples Center booths has been silent, all business.
Coach Tyronn Lue admitted the Clippers managed to attack the paint and share the ball, but initially bemoaned their 17 turnovers and lingering problems in transition.
After playing his best game yet this season, Marcus Morris Sr. pooed that the game was having a playoff-like impact.
“Regular season; it was regular season,” Morris said after recording a season high 24 points and 11 rebounds. “I mean, that’s what it is, we took the win, but it sure didn’t look like this. ”
Maybe it was because neither team was able to engage with their full contingent, with the diminishing star power undermining some of the sizzle in the game?
The Clippers (16-12) were deprived of their two best players Paul George (sprained elbow) and Kawhi Leonard (ACL) and perhaps their most integral at their side by attacking Nicolas Batum (sprained ankle). And the Suns (now 21-5) have lost two of their best players, Devin Booker (hamstrings) and Deandre Ayton (non-COVID disease), as well as talented young forward Jalen Smith (non-COVID disease).
Perhaps this was also the case on Mondays? Or, more precisely, December 13 – and Game 28… with 54 to play in the regular season?
Also, could it have had something to do with the idea that there was clearly more urgent work to be done?
Yes, the Clippers sent Phoenix for their fourth straight win, but they have another clash with another playoff nemesis from a season ago looming on Wednesday. And the Utah Jazz – who have won seven straight games and have been out since their 123-98 win over Washington on Saturday – demand attention.
“Utah are a great team, a veteran team,” Morris said. “We’ve been together for a long time, so it’s going to be another air fight. Should be fun. ”
It certainly could be, especially if Morris continues his impressive run of productions.
In the last six games, the veteran forward is averaging 17.5 points and shooting 50% from the field and 48.6% from 3 points – even better than career best clip of 47.3% with which he finished last season.
Morris, 32, is also averaging 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in that streak, as the Clippers are 5-1.
📊 24 PTS / 10-16 FG / 11 REB
– LA Clippers (@LAClippers) December 14, 2021
It’s the type of high-profile play the Clippers were hoping to see from Morris after returning from a 15-game absence early in the season, time spent strengthening a diseased right knee.
“When Marcus is moving well it opens the game up for everyone and allows everyone to play even more,” said guard Reggie Jackson, who averages 33 minutes per game, a career high that is also a high for the team. this season.
“Space it, you can drop it off at the station.” When things get a bit hectic in the half court offense, you can trust what he can do to that end. And honestly, more so, he really keeps us on the ground defensively when that knee feels good.
“So I’m happy to see him get healthy, happy to see him well, happy to see him come back to the Marcus that I know.”
Morris was more succinct about how he felt: “I’m fine,” he said, also noting that, for him, “it’s just about the way the game plays, the appearance that I get and staying consistent without ever really getting too high or too low.
Even, it turns out, having contributed mightily to a dominant victory over such a promising former employer as the Suns.
CLIPPERS (16-12) at JAZZ (19-7)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Or: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: Bally Sports SoCal, ESPN