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Breaking: Clippers’ Cold Shooting And Poor Defense Leads To Blowout Loss To Nuggets

Clippers forward Norman Powell, right, drives as Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray defends during the second half on Thursday in Denver. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press) Losers of three straight and seeking a spark, the Clippers hoped this night would represent a turnaround. In one sense, that is exactly what took place. After four quarters of their most ineffective, uncompetitive basketball of this season, the Clippers were spun around in circles so easily during a disastrous, 122-91 display in Denverthat as the midway point of the season rapidly approaches, their season appears as though it is now heading backwards. For weeks coach Tyronn Lue has preached the importance of patience as a roster rocked by injuries to the point it has played four games at full strength, and just 15 with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George healthy, locks into the right combination of players and playing style. The most worrisome Thursday was that against a Nuggets team tied for first in the Western Conference, nothing came close to working. For several weeks Lue has endured criticism from fans over his substitution patterns and lineup combinations featuring three or more small guards. It led the coach to shoulder blame Wednesday while adding that: “I know what I’m doing, but I need to see more from our whole team and then kind of assess it from there.” Yet what happened Thursday wasn’t about schematics as much as it was about habits. “We went to the drawing board three or four times,” during the first half, Lue said, and none of it made a difference. Lue has wanted to see his team open games with a “defensive mindset” for the last two weeks. On Thursday, any such mindset evaporated into the mile-high air as soon as tipoff. Denver made as many three-pointers — 11 — as the Clippers made overall field goals in the first half. During the first half the Clippers allowed 19 consecutive points to Denver and trailed by as many as 38 — and most damningly, the deficit grew even as Nikola Jokic, the two-time most valuable player, scored only three points, and Michael Porter Jr. contributed zero. “It’s one thing to lose,” center Ivica Zubac said, “and another thing to lose like this.” Story continues Just as he had 12 months earlier when the Clippers trailed Washington by 35 points, Lue benched his starters out of halftime. It was true that the Clippers were due to tip off in Minnesota less than 24 hours later, and that George was already playing on a tender hamstring, making the rest valuable. That was on Lue’s mind when he made the decision to start a lineup of Luke Kennard, Norman Powell, Terance Mann, Amir Coffey and Moses Brown in the second half. John Wall was unavailable to play as the team rested him to play Friday. Clippers guard John Wall, and forwards Kawhi Leonard and Nicolas Batum watch from the bench. Clippers guard John Wall, and forwards Kawhi Leonard and Nicolas Batum, from left, watch from the bench during the second half against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday in Denver. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press) But so was the fact that the starters had also shown little to justify more playing time. In the first half, they combined to make nine of their 31 shots, including two of their 16 three-pointers. Overall, the Clippers made just three of their 28 shots outside the paint in the first half. Unlike last season’s historic Wizards comeback, the wholesale halftime substitution led not to a rally but the season’s worst loss by scoring margin. The Clippers made five of their 37 three-pointers. They never led and are now 11-12 against teams in the West. In the standings only five games separate the Nuggets from the Clippers. Yet the gulf between them currently appears vast. Lue noted multiple times that when the Clippers face Denver next week, the rematch will tell him what the roster is made of. As for what they were made of Thursday, Lue used the word “embarrassment” during his postgame review, but also added that it was not time to “panic.” These teams entered this season on a potential collision course. Knee injuries to top Nuggets guard Jamal Murray and Leonard robbed the top-end potential from their team’s respective 2021-22 seasons, but with both healthy, the Nuggets and Clippers were preseason picks to finish near the top of the conference. Leonard and Murray each said they checked in on each other during their recoveries, with Murray saying that when they had recently spoken, his advice to Leonard had been to keep lifting weights. But so far only Denver has looked like a team of potential Finals caliber, a notion reinforced by Thursday. Leonard finished with six points and George scored three after making one of his nine shots. When Murray checked out of the first quarter, he scored as many points as the entire Clippers roster. In a season where many of the Clippers’ roadblocks have been out of their control, starting with injuries, they have also been guilty of not handling what is in their control. “Play harder, play faster, play smarter, move the basketball,” Leonard said. “It’s a lot of hero basketball going on.” The performance will only continue questions about the team’s direction with five weeks to go before the NBA’s trade deadline. Point guard Reggie Jackson is, at his core, an optimist. It was there in his answer after Wednesday’s practice that he believes the consistent inconsistency “makes us a little more resilient and it tests us.” He, too, acknowledged the effect of unsettled rotations, but also placed the blame on a team whose core has been together for three seasons. “We get to find out who we are and shoot, coach gets to mistakenly, or he does purposely, figure out a lot of lineups so I think that gives us an advantage there,” Jackson said. “We know who we are and we kind of know what we do but it’s always on us and that’s one thing we also understand, is a lot of our losses are self-inflicted wounds.”

Clippers forward Norman Powell, right, drives as Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray defends during the second half on Thursday in Denver. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)  Losers of three straight and seeking a spark, the Clippers hoped this night would represent a turnaround. In one sense, that is exactly what took place. After four quarters of their most […]

Sport News Gregg Berhalter, ‘Saddened’ By Reyna Saga, Says He’d ‘Like To Continue’ As USMNT Head Coach

Sport News Gregg Berhalter, ‘Saddened’ By Reyna Saga, Says He’d ‘Like To Continue’ As USMNT Head Coach

Gregg Berhalter said Thursday that he would “like to continue in my role” as US men’s national team head coach. Berhalter’s contract expired on Dec. 31. US Soccer is currently reviewing its performance over the past four years, and specifically at the 2022 World Cup. The review has been complicated by an investigation into a […]

Breaking News California’s Newsom To Launch 2nd Term With Contrast To GOP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom will kick off his second and final term on Friday by contrasting his leadership of the nation’s largest Democratic stronghold with Republican leaders he’s branded as threats to freedom and democracy — including former President Donald Trump. Newsom’s inaugural ceremonies will begin with a morning march through downtown Sacramento to the state Capitol. The date — Jan. 6 — was chosen intentionally to mark the second anniversary of the violent attack by Trump supporters on the US Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden as president. The event is meant to “stand in peaceful contrast to the violent insurrection and assault on our democracy which occurred two years ago,” Newsom’s campaign said. His second term officially began Monday. The planned outdoor ceremony Friday comes amid a series of massive storms that brought heavy rain, snow and intense winds across the state. The deluge prompted Newsom to declare a state of emergency and offered a reminder of the bread-and-butter work of governing the nation’s most populous state. As Newsom seeks to put California at the center of the national political conversation, he’ll also be challenged to lay out a vision for his second term. He’ll face headwinds in the form of a budget deficit, an unmitigated homeless crisis and drought that may persist despite the storms. And he’ll go to battle with the oil industry as he pushes lawmakers to impose fines on company profits. Newsom began his first term in 2019 with Trump as a clear foil in Washington. With Biden now in the White House, Newsom has pivoted his fire towards fellow governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, both Republicans. He chided fellow Democrats for not being aggressive enough in standing up to Republicans and has taken the fight to GOP states himself — even launching ads in other states that trash GOP policies and promote California as a safe place for women to seek abortion. Story continues Both Newsom and DeSantis are widely seen as future presidential contenders, although perhaps not against each other. Newsom has committed to supporting Biden if the president seeks a second term, as he currently plans to do. DeSantis, meanwhile, has not ruled out a 2024 run — even as Trump seeks a return to the White House. Their competing visions of governance — including how best to promote “freedom” — showcase the political polarization that’s taken hold across the nation. In his own inaugural address Tuesday, DeSantis touched on national issues like immigration and inflation, and decried “wokeness.” “They have two starkly different philosophies on how to run a state and that choice will be on the ballot at some point, whether its either one of those two or other folks in their parties,” said Bill Burton, a California political consultant who was a spokesperson for former President Barack Obama. The ongoing drama in Washington that has kept GOP Representative Kevin McCarthya fellow Californian, from securing the speakership in the US House also boosts Newsom’s argument that Democrats are better at governing, said Kim Nalder, a professor of political science at the California State University, Sacramento. “His narrative that he’s trying to create is: Look how much better things could be if Democrats ran the political world,” she said. The California Republican Party had a different interpretation, noting that more people are leaving California than moving to the state. “While we can only hope that Newsom spends a little more time in his second term dealing with the problems he created in the Golden State, we expect he’ll be far too busy chasing laughable White House fantasies and lashing out at red states that countless former Californians are now calling home,” Jessica Millan Patterson, chairwoman of the party, said in a statement. But Californians have twice reinforced their support for Newsom in the past 15 months: first in a 2021 recall attempt that failed and again last November, when he handily won his second term. Newsom’s first term was dominated by wildfires, a major utility bankruptcy and the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 Californians, and prompted months-long shutdowns of businesses and schools. But he was also handed a massive budget surpluses that allowed him to invest tens of billions in the environment, education, child care and health care. But he enters his second term with a projected $25 billion budget deficit, which limits what Newsom can spend on and may force budget cuts. He’ll offer his first glimpse at spending priorities next week. He’s also geared up for a major fight with the oil industry, convincing the Legislature to launch a special session to consider a new fine on oil company profits. Gas prices climbed above $6 per gallon in California, which is well above the national average. California is still among the top oil-producing states and the industry continues to hold some sway in the Legislature among lawmakers, including Democrats, who represent oil-rich parts of the state. Newsom, though, has made it clear that he wants the state to phase out oil and gas in favor of more climate-friendly energy sources. The potential budget deficit in particular may force Newsom to turn more of his attention back home if he hopes to maintain the strong support he’s so far enjoyed, said Sarah Hill, a professor of political science at the California State University, Fullerton, who focuses on state politics. “If he still is sort of playing this national stage while the state is hurting fiscally and they’re having to make cuts, I don’t think that will play well,” she said.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom will kick off his second and final term on Friday by contrasting his leadership of the nation’s largest Democratic stronghold with Republican leaders he’s branded as threats to freedom and democracy — including former President Donald Trump. Newsom’s inaugural ceremonies will begin with a morning march through […]

Breaking: UN Security Council Stresses Al Aqsa Status Quo, Takes No Action

Breaking: UN Security Council Stresses Al Aqsa Status Quo, Takes No Action

United Nation’s Security Council members voiced concern and stressed the need to maintain the status quo at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, but did not commit to any action days after Israel’s new far-right security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a controversial visit to the site, which Palestinian leaders called “an unprecedented provocation”. The […]

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