LOS ANGELES — In more than two decades of coaching, Doc Rivers says he’s never had a team where its two best players have yet to practice together with the starting unit 21 games into the season.
Yet despite the fact that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are still waiting for that practice to happen, the LA Clippers are putting up staggering offensive numbers that the franchise has never seen. For the second time this season, the Clippers scored 150 points at home, this time demolishing the Washington Wizards on Sunday night 150-125.
Not bad considering the Clippers only reached 150 points in a game just once before in franchise history prior to this season when they scored 152 points against the Toronto Raptors in 1998.
“I [still] think it’s going to take time, just learning each other, playing in these games,” Leonard said of the Clippers having plenty of room to get better. “We’re still up and down, sometimes our offense is stagnant … or doing early quick shots without moving the ball.”
“But we can be special.”
Rivers said he was thrilled with the Clippers improving to 15-6 despite the fact he has had George and Leonard play together in only six games this season.
“I don’t know how many years I’ve coached, 20 maybe, but I’ve never had where my best two players going into game 21 have yet to have a practice together on the floor — not one,” Rivers said before the win of not being able to hold many practices due to the schedule and wanting to keep his veterans fresh. “They’ve had one practice where they’re opposing [each other in practice], but they have yet to be in the same lineup and have a practice.
“I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of that. And yet that’s us right now. I think we’ve had three shootarounds with this group.”
And still, the Clippers joined the Houston Rockets as the only teams to score 150 points twice this season. Both the Rockets and Clippers reached those marks against the same teams — the Atlanta Hawks and Wizards.
The Clippers did the majority of their damage against Washington with four players on offense. Leonard led just four Clippers in double-digits with 34 points. George scored 31 while Lou Williams had 22 points and Montrezl Harrell had 23 points and 15 rebounds off the bench.
This was only the fifth time in NBA history that a team scored 150 points with just four players reaching 10 points and it was the first time since the Seattle SuperSonics did so in November 1989 according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
George bounced back from his worst game as a Clipper, scoring 27 points in the first half against Washington after going 2-for-11 and scoring five points with five turnovers in a loss at San Antonio last Friday.
Next up for the Clippers is a home game against Portland on Tuesday when George is reunited with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Carmelo Anthony.
“I mean it’s great,” George said of Anthony, who is averaging 17.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in six games since joining the Blazers. “I just hate how [his] first game, Melo came back, the whole media was [focused on] his plus-minus was this and him being on the floor, Portland generated this and now he’s playing well and the media is [pointing out how] three games straight where he did this.
“I just hate the narratives that’s created by him being back,” George added about critics focused on Anthony’s style of play. “Melo has been a great player, he’s going to be a great player, he’s playing terrific from start to finish and shout out to Portland for opening that door back up for Melo and prolonging his career.”
Leonard said he is happy to see Anthony back and that he felt the former All-Star forward was unfairly held out of the league.
“He is able to get an opportunity and get a chance to go out there and pretty much be himself,” Leonard said. “I’m just happy for him that he was able to get back in the NBA. It is well-deserved. I don’t think he was treated the right way, how they left him out there being a future Hall of Famer.
“As you can see he’s still running up and down the floor, so he’s still got a lot of basketball left in him. It’s going to be a fun matchup for us.”
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