Clippers look to cure recent issues as Cavs visit

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers continues to search for answers to solve his team’s instability.

«It’s a work in progress. We’ve just got to keep working,» Rivers told reporters after the Clippers dropped a 114-104 decision to the host Denver Nuggets on Sunday. «If there was just a button to push, I would just push it. But it’s going to be more than that.»

Rivers hopes the Clippers can find the right formula when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.

Injuries continue to contribute to the inconsistency of the Clippers, who are 7-6 in their past 13 games.

Six-time All-Star Paul George is the latest Clipper to be sidelined, missing the previous two games with a strained left hamstring.

George initially sustained the injury in a Jan. 2 victory over the Detroit Pistons, but after missing Los Angeles’ blowout loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 4, he returned to score 32 points in a narrow victory over the New York Knicks a day later. However, George aggravated the injury in practice last week.

He will sit out again Tuesday.

George’s absence was felt at Denver. Kawhi Leonard had 30 points, Lou Williams scored 26, and Montrezl Harrell finished with 25 points and eight rebounds, but no other Clipper reached double figures.

Los Angeles trailed by as many as 20 in the second half before rallying late but was unable to overcome the deficit.

«We started out well. That second quarter just destroyed us,» Rivers said. Denver outscored Los Angeles 37-22 in the quarter for a 66-52 advantage at the break before increasing the margin in the third quarter.

«We gave up 37 points. You give up 37 points in a quarter, you’re probably going to lose the game, and we’ve done that a couple of times. Their second unit changed the game.»

Rivers was ejected late in the contest but believed the game’s officials erred in doing so. What drew the coach’s ire was a review failing to go his way after a pick by Harrell sent Nuggets forward Jerami Grant sprawling to the court.

«As coaches can lose their composure, so can officials,» Rivers said. «There was no way I should have been thrown out of the game.»

The Cavaliers will be playing the second end of back-to-back contests after falling 128-99 to the host Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. Cleveland led 48-47 at the half before being outscored 81-51 in the second half.

«When the pendulum began to swing, we couldn’t stop it,» Cavaliers coach John Beilein said, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. «LeBron (James) took a lot of matters into his own hands, as he has for years, and we just didn’t have any answers for some of that. So, still a lot of positives we are going to take from that game, as we are playing another team that can win the NBA championship.»

Kevin Love had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Tristan Thompson finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers. Collin Sexton and Darius Garland added 16 points apiece while Cedi Osman had 15.

Injuries have also hurt Cleveland. Former Laker Larry Nance Jr. missed his sixth straight contest with a knee injury, but there is a chance he could return to face the Clippers.

The club announced Monday that rookie Dylan Windler, who had yet to make his debut, would miss the rest of the season because of a lower left leg stress reaction.

The Cavaliers also remain without reserve guard Kevin Porter Jr., who sustained a knee injury Jan. 5 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The initial prognosis was he would be out for four to six weeks.

–Field Level Media