All hands on deck for the surging Clippers
November 11, 2021
One person, alone, can be easily defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; but when all hands are in, the Los Angeles Clippers are showcasing how difficult they will be nightly for opponents. High above the court hangs a banner that says, "All Hands." At press time the Clippers were riding a five-game winning streak. They are currently in fifth place in the Western Conference.
The Clippers flexed their collective will with a late 4th quarter rally to defeat the Charlotte Hornets 120-106 last Sunday. Six players, including four starters, scored in double figures for the Clippers. Los Angeles' late 22-0 surge in the game's final seven minutes secured their fourth straight victory.
The Clippers know that without Kawhi Leonard, the ancillary pieces on the team must contribute to win. The Clippers continues to find different ways to win. Paul George and Reggie Jackson ensured that Los Angeles got open looks against the Hornets. They weaved and slithered around and past Charlotte defenders throughout the night, like octopi squeezing through crevices, creating open looks and easy baskets for their teammates. The Clippers changed the timbre of the game with defense.
"It was our defense," Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue intimated. "I think our defense really picked up, our physicality, our attention to detail was a lot better. I thought our focus in the first half, physically, was pretty bad."
But the Clippers got a set of hands and a massive boon to their physicality with Serge Ibaka's return from back surgery. Although the Congolese-Spanish big man does not look like the stout defensive powerhouse that his career has come to characterize, his playing without pain is a step in the right direction. "I'm healthy, I'm back, I'm in good shape," Ibaka said. "Yeah, it's going to be fun."
Ibaka went scoreless in the win over Charlotte, but Lue stressed that patience is essential as he rounds into form in the upcoming weeks. "We know he's going to get his rhythm back as far as defensively and making shots."
With Leonard out for the foreseeable future, and as Marcus Morris ramps up towards his return from a knee injury, Ibaka's return is an invaluable chess piece for Lue. When Leonard and Morris return, the Clippers will genuinely have "All Hands" available to compete.
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