The information that Kawhi Leonard wasn’t taking part in Saturday afternoon for the Clippers towards the Orlando Magic due to proper knee harm administration was already a blow with so few video games left within the common season and L.A. jockeying for playoff place within the topsy-turvy Western Convention.
Then after the Clippers misplaced 113-108 to the Magic at Crypto.com Enviornment, coach Tyronn Lue was unable to elucidate why all of it went improper as a result of he wasn’t feeling nicely sufficient to speak to the media.
It was left as much as affiliate head coach Dan Craig to supply the solutions for why the Clippers fell aside within the fourth quarter.
And it was left as much as Paul George and Russell Westbrook to supply their observations on how the Clippers’ four-game profitable streak ended with out Leonard to assist the trigger.
Westbrook, who had 14 factors, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 6 turnovers, selected to take the blame for the defeat.
Clearly, it wasn’t simply Westbrook’s fault for the Clippers’ demise in a fourth quarter throughout which they surrendered 39 factors because the Magic shot 60%.
“Yeah, I imply, actually, this one’s on me actually tonight,” mentioned Westbrook, who was a minus-13 within the fourth quarter within the plus-minus class. “I might have been higher. Began off good. However simply within the second half, was horrible. And I bought to do a greater job of serving to the blokes out within the second half and the fourth quarter. So, it’s nothing anyone did. However actually, it’s on me, you recognize. Extra focus in closing the sport.”
George led the Clippers with 30 factors, 9 within the fourth quarter, when he did all he might to assist his crew strive to stick with the Magic.
With Markelle Fultz scoring 28 factors and Wendell Carter Jr. contributing 27 factors and 12 rebounds, the Magic swept the two-game season collection from the Clippers.
Fultz had 12 factors within the fourth quarter, driving and slashing to the basket in capturing 4 for 4 from the sphere. Carter had 12 factors within the fourth, dunking and capturing 5 for seven from the sphere and two for 3 from three-point vary.
“We gave up  within the fourth, held them to underneath 20  within the third. That’s only a huge hole,” George mentioned. “I assumed with them spreading the ground, it gave them a ton of spacing and we didn’t end rotations in that fourth.”
Maybe the largest play within the fourth occurred after George made a three-pointer to drag the Clippers to inside two factors late within the sport.
But as they did your complete fourth quarter, the Magic answered, getting a three-pointer from Franz Wagner, who had 20 factors, with 40.7 seconds remaining that put the Clippers down 5 and left them scrambling the remainder of the way in which.
George scored once more for the Clippers, however Fultz answered with a layup and made two free throws to finish the sport.
“I assumed they made some well timed pictures,” Craig mentioned. “We bought caught rotating, so there have been some center drives. There have been some alternatives the place we might have been looking for some unders, after which they ended up getting within the paint after which once more, their tempo too.”
The Clippers full a set of back-to-back video games Sunday night time at Portland, and the belief is Leonard will play towards the Path Blazers.
“He’s out tonight,” Lue mentioned pregame. “That’s all I do know.”
There was no phrase on the provision of Lue on Sunday.
When Leonard doesn’t play, George mentioned, extra falls on him to be the chief.
“I simply know I gotta do my job and be extra aggressive, and simply attempt to preserve us poised,” George mentioned. “That’s actually the changes that goes into when Kawhi’s out. Simply be a bit bit extra aggressive.”
The Clippers have 11 regular-season video games left. They’re fifth within the West, 1½ video games behind the Phoenix Suns and one sport forward of the Dallas Mavericks.
The Clippers have two units of back-to-back video games after Sunday — at Memphis on March 31 and at New Orleans on April 1, and at Portland on April 8 and at Phoenix on April 9 within the season finale.
Clearly, it’s not recognized if Leonard will play in any back-to-back video games.
Both approach, the Clippers have to regulate in his absence.
“There’s no excuse for tonight,” Westbrook mentioned. “We simply didn’t shut the sport like we had been presupposed to, make the correct performs like we wanted to.”