The Knicks get a familiar face in Marcus Morris returning with the Clippers, who are without star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
After a couple of days to rest and regroup after a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, the New York Knicks (22-24) are back on the court for a Sunday matinee at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks are facing the Los Angeles Clippers (23-24) for the first time this season. It’ll be the first leg of a back-to-back for New York, who will then head on the road to play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
Last year, the Knicks and Clippers split the regular-season series.
Los Angeles coming off of a thrilling 102-101 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s been an up-and-down stretch for The Clippers, who has won four of its last 10 games.
Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Clippers get it done by committee
Things went from not-great-to-worse for the Clippers when Paul George sustained an elbow injury that has kept him out since late December. Los Angeles was able to hover above the .500 mark, despite losing Kawhi Leonard to a preseason ACL injury. Since George’s injury, Los Angeles has fallen dipped below the mark.
To L.A.’s credit, it has been able to remain competitive in recent games. It had a rough start to the New Year, as it tried to find a new way to find production after George’s injury, but the Clippers managed to split with the Denver Nuggets and hold off the Sixers.
With the Clippers’ two leading men and NBA stars out of commission, who’s left?
Los Angeles has used a pretty balanced approach over the last few weeks, but Reggie Jackson has consistently been the key to its success. He’s the Clippers’ top remaining scorer, but he also contributes in other areas of the game. This season, he’s averaging 16.7 points, 3.4 boards, and 4.2 assists, but he’s ramped up his production since George went down. He racked up 28 points and 12 assists, with only two turnovers, in a 130-128 overtime loss to Denver.
One-time Knick Marcus Morris Sr. chips in 16.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. There aren’t any other Clippers putting up notable or eye-popping numbers overall this season, but there are a few that playing very well as of late. L.A.’s numbers as a team are even more impressive.
The Clippers have had at least five different players score in double figures over the last five games. In two of the five games during this stretch, every member of their starting five was able to eclipse the double-digit mark.
They’ve gotten good production from their bench, and it seems like there are different players playing well on different games. Tyronn Lue has consistently given his bench a chance, sometimes even rolling with a 10 or 11-man rotation, with nearly all of those players getting at least 10 minutes per game.
Los Angeles might be hard to scout given the fact that anyone can get going, but Jackson has consistently been the motor that keeps them going. However, keep an eye on Nicolas Batum and Ivica Zubac. They’re towards the middle-to-bottom of the Clippers, statistically, but they’ve turned it up recently.
Zubac has been incredibly efficient over the last five games, shooting 75%. He peaked in the OT loss to the Nuggets, posting a 32-point, 10-rebound double-double while shooting 15-of-19 on the floor.
Batum has shot well from long range over the last couple of games, shooting a combined 10-of-15 from beyond the arc.
Questions will be answered, hopefully
It was all good just a week ago—RJ Barrett was on a tear, the Knicks were winning. Now, even more boos are raining in from the rafters, Julius Randle is dodging press conferences, and New York is looking to shake off a three-game losing slump.
RJ for 3!! pic.twitter.com/Lpp1p1GpsZ
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 21, 2022
It’s the longest losing stretch for the Knicks since a four-game skid about a month ago. Given the ugly performance against the Pelicans, this one feels even rougher.
Randle struggled to provide a spark in that previous loss against New Orleans, finishing with just four points on 1-of-9 shooting. Although he wasn’t around for press availability, he has an opportunity to speak with his play on the court with a bounce-back performance against the Clippers.
While his performance was far from the best, he wasn’t the only culprit in that nightmarish loss to New Orleans. Two other starters, Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, underperformed and were limited to six or fewer points. As a team, the Knicks struggled from the free-throw line, converting on just 66.7% of attempts.
Overall, the Knicks shot just 37.7% overall and didn’t get much going from deep, knocking in 23.7% of long-range shots.
It wasn’t all doom-and-gloom though, Mitchell Robinson will try to build off of his 17-point, 15-rebound double-double, and Quentin Grimes shot well from the perimeter.
Ideally, the Knicks would shake off the slump and get back on track with a win, before heading on the road, but we’ll see on Sunday afternoon.
PrizePicks of the Nights
The Knicks Wall’s exclusive partnership with PrizePicks presents the picks of the night. For the Knicks, we’re going with RJ Barrett, who’s projected to have 26.5 points, rebounds and assists combined. He has been crushing it this month and should continue to shine without George and Leonard getting in his way. For the Clippers, we’re picking Reggie Jackson, who is slated at 15.5 points and has passed that mark in each of his last three games.
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