NEW YORK — The road has not been kind to the Clippers so far this season, no matter who they suit up.
Paul George had 24 points and seven rebounds and Kawhi Leonard scored 17 points for the Clippers, but Lonnie Walker came off the bench to score 21 as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Clippers, 100-93, on Wednesday night, dropping them to 0-4 on the road.
Russell Westbrook had 13 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, while Ivica Zubac had 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots for the Clippers. James Harden added 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists (with five turnovers) in his second game with the team since being acquired from Philadelphia on Oct. 30 as the Clippers lost their third straight game overall.
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue noticed that his quartet of stars appeared too passive for the second consecutive night – after losing by 14 points to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
“When we were getting open shots they were not taken and that forces us to take even harder shots,” Lue said. “So, just trying to find those guys on the floor, just not step on each other’s toes. But they got to be themselves. That’s the biggest thing, that’s the biggest message, be who you are and if you’re doing too much we’ll let you know.”
The Clippers shot 36 for 91 from the field, including an 8-for-36 showing from 3-point range, and had 15 turnovers.
George said the team didn’t expect all four stars to click immediately.
“We’re going to go through growing pains. We’re going to come out of this and we’ll probably have to make another adjustment based on how the season goes later in the year,” he said. “I’m not worried about this. We want to win these games. These are games that we feel we should win.”
Cam Thomas scored 14 points in the first half for the Nets before leaving the game early in the third period after spraining his left ankle. Dorian Finney-Smith had 12 points and Day’Ron Sharpe added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Brooklyn, which snapped a two-game losing streak.
With Thomas out, Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said he entrusted Walker more, drawing plays for him during timeouts and placing him on pick-and-rolls toward the end of the game.
It paid off. Walker shot 5 for 11 from the field, including 3 for 5 from long distance, for 13 points in the last two quarters.
“Just a lot of self-confidence,” Walker said. “Understanding my capabilities. I really put a lot of time and effort into the game. I sacrifice a lot of time and effort into the game. What you put in is what you’re going to get out of it.”
Sharpe gave the Nets a needed boost off the bench, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter.
“We all, as a collective group, just stepped up,” he said.
Sharpe hit an off-balance shot off the glass as Zubac tried for the block that put the Nets ahead 98-79 with 6:42 remaining.
Leonard (six rebounds) cut the deficit to 94-90 with 1:17 to remaining, but Spencer Dinwiddie answered with a 3-pointer.
The Clippers called a timeout, but George turned the ball over on their following possession. Westbrook later had a shot blocked and Harden missed a 3-point try.
Royce O’Neal then hit a 3-pointer to seal the win for the Nets.
The Clippers conclude their three-game trip against Dallas on Friday night.
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