Clippers tired against Suns in Game 4 loss to fall behind 3-1
Posted On June 27, 2021
LOS ANGELES – Almost 90 minutes have passed after the Los Angeles Clippers suffered an 84-80 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. So before Clippers forward Paul George appeared in the interview room, he had a lot to digest while finishing his post-game training.
The Clippers face a 3-1 deficit, and their season could end with a decisive fifth game in Phoenix on Tuesday. There are no signs that Kawhi Leonard could return after missing the last six games with a right knee injury. The Clippers went scoreless for just over four minutes. And with the Clippers down 81-78 with seven seconds left, George missed his first free throw before intentionally missing the second in hopes of reclaiming possession.
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“You have to do it. This is the playoffs. You have to move on,” said George. “Regardless, tonight’s game is over and it’s on to the next one. As a veteran you just learn not to let games drag on. I did a good job of doing it. still live a wonderful life and I still have an amazing family. I’m on top of the world no matter what the outcome. Go on and get ready for the next one. “
No one doubts the mowers will prepare for the next one. They overcame series 0-2 deficits against the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz. Although Terance Mann acknowledged that facing a 3-1 deficit is “a really different feeling,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said, said the challenge was “very doable”.
The Clippers surely have the mental toughness. But do they have the legs? They played 17 games in 36 nights and have played every other day since June 2. It’s hard not to wonder if this played a role in the Clippers shooting 32.5% from the field and 16.1% from 3 points.
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“It could be, but there is no excuse at this time of the season,” Lue said. “Our guys might be a little tired. But we have to fight. I have no problem with the way we fought and the way we competed. Every guy on the pitch gave us what we did. planes. But offensively we did it ‘I don’t have it tonight.’
The Suns either. They only shot 36% from the field and 20% from 3 points. But they were able to dig deeper. Deandre Ayton relied on his athleticism (19 points, 22 rebounds). Devin Booker relied on his tenacity after ditching his mask to protect his bruised nose (25 points) before making a foul. Chris Paul relied on his intelligence while shedding rust in his second game since sitting on the sidelines for eight due to league health and safety protocols (18 points, seven assists decisive). The Suns sailed after a week of rest and preparation against the Clippers after sweeping the Denver Nuggets in the second round.
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As for the Clippers? They looked fried. George (23 points), Reggie Jackson (20), Ivica Zubac (13) and Mann (12) cracked in double digits. During their scoreless streak in the fourth quarter from 10:07 am to 6:00 am, the Clippers missed three 3-pointers, two jumpers and two layups while also committing two turnovers. When the Suns cleverly fouled George to prevent the Clippers from potentially forcing overtime with a 3-point winner, it didn’t look like George had the right trick to take his first foul shot.
“I’m not going to let this be an excuse or have something to fall back on,” said George. “I feel good and I am there.”
In fairness, the game could have flipped the other way. What if DeMarcus Cousins intentionally successfully missed his second free kick instead of hitting the ball from the back panel as the Clippers trailed 81-79 with 5.8 seconds left? What if Nicolas Batum was not called for being out of bounds with 7.8 seconds to go, while he was leading 79-78? What if the Clippers hadn’t broken the clock during their drought?
All points correct. But there were already signs that Clippers fatigue was gaining the upper hand. The most notable example came with their loss in Game 2 which also ended with George missing a pair of free throws before Ayton converted to a lob game with 0.7 seconds left. to play. The other example came with their loss in Game 1. This game took place just 36 hours after beating Jazz in Game 6. Although all teams had to play every other day in the hope to finish the season before the Olympics, it’s unclear why the Clippers had to play in the afternoon instead of one one night.
“It’s a battle of attrition,” Jackson said. “The guys are doing all they can to rest and recover and get back in the best shape they can to find a way to be successful. It’s a crazy schedule. It goes fast. But we’ve all been treated like this. same way cards. We know we have to prepare for this challenge in Game 5. It will be a mental battle and a physical battle between two great teams. “
It will likely be a mental and physical battle once again without Leonard, who watched the game with his family in a sequel instead of playing on the pitch.
“If he’s not 100%, we don’t want him,” said George. “It’s as a brother and as a teammate. His health is what matters most. I can’t speak to the extent of his injury or what he can and can’t give to us. His health is more important than anything else. “
This leaves the Clippers in a precarious position. No doubt they will fight to overcome a 3-1 deficit as Lue helped the Cleveland Cavaliers do the same against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. But as the Clippers showed in the game 4 through missed shots and missed free throws, they seem to be running on empty.
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