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LA Clippers progress report so far for the NBA season- December 2021

The LA Clippers have had a rocky road with injuries and inconsistent play.  I give them a grade “C” so far this season heading into the New Year.  They have showed flashes of brilliance with and without Paul George, who has missed quite a few games.  With Kawhi Leonard sidelined till later this season at best, the Clippers and head coach Ty Lue have had a wide range or players and combinations trying to get the right chemistry.

The team started off slow and then won 7 straight in November with Paul George being the leading scorer in all the games including a solid victory vs. Portland.  They had a tough home loss to Chicago to break the streak as the Bulls are one of the more improved teams in the Eastern Conference and watch out for them.  They dominated the whole way and even played without starting center Nikola Vucevic.  However DeRosan and Lavine were way too much scoring 35 and 29 respectively.   The Clippers had a big victory vs the Lakers on Dec. 3rd and won 5 out of 6 including a thrilling victory vs Boston (coincidence that Brandon Boston Jr had his career high 27 in that game and a great win vs Phoenix at home.  George missed the latter 2 games but the Celtics missed Jalen Brown & Suns played without Ayton and Booker.

Still a win is a win as every team has its issues, injuries and covid situations.   The team has recently lost 5 out of 6 and are now at an even .500 this year at 16-16.   The latest loss came vs the Brooklyn Nets, playing without Durant but it didn’t matter as James Harden dominated with 39 points, 15 assists and 8 rebounds.  The Clippers were no match and could not defend the pick and roll and even when they tried to double team Harden, all the other players chipped in with open shots including Patty Mills & Claxton netting 18 points each and former Clipper Blake Griffin scoring 12 points and playing a key role with the 124-108 beating.  The Staples Center just changed names to the Arena.

Overall the team is deep but they cannot get enough minutes together on the floor with so many players out.  Marcus Morris had his best game of the season vs the Nets with 24 pts and 6 assists so they need him to step it up.  George is out at least 3 weeks with an elbow injury.  Reggie Jackson has also been out and his play as been up and down.  Same for Bledsoe. Luke Kennard has been solid and a deadly shooter while Terrance Mann remains a strong contributor.  Serge Ibaka has recently come back to get some minutes after being injured earlier and then losing out his backup center role to Isaiah Hartenstein (who has over-achieved).  Starting Center Zubac always hustles and his play has been decent.  Batum is a key player but he has been injured so much. If the team can ever get fully healthy including getting Leonard back for the playoffs, they can be dangerous.

Without Leonard, they will fall short.  They over-achieved last year in the playoffs when Leonard went out but the West is even deeper this year with Golden St, Phoenix and Utah the top teams.  Anything can happen and it is who is playing best and healthy but this is the report a bit more than 1/2 of the way. More at