The Los Angeles Clippers are trying to fight off the Oklahoma City Thunder in the battle for the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference and got some outside assistance in that quest when the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to take it easy on Saturday. The Clippers will try to turn that momentum into back-to-back wins when they host the New York Knicks on Monday.
Los Angeles dropped three in a row before the Cavaliers came to town and decided to leave LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on the bench, leading to an easy 108-78 win for the Clippers. “I’d like to thank (Cleveland coach) Ty Lue,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers told reporters after the win. “That was very nice of him tonight.” The Clippers could be in for another easy one against the Knicks, who dropped four of their last five games and count star forward Kristaps Porzingis as day-to-day due to a thigh contusion. New York has been off since suffering a 121-110 home loss to the NBA-worst Brooklyn Nets on Thursday which clinched the franchise’s fourth straight losing season.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE KNICKS (27-42): New York coach Jeff Hornacek insists that he is still trying to win games, and All-Star Carmelo Anthony is still logging heavy minutes, but the losses keep piling up. “For me it’s my duty to just — regardless of what’s the situation — just go out there and play and figure it out and try to win,” Anthony told reporters. “Until they say don’t play no more or limit our minutes or things like that. We still have to go out there and play and finish the season out.” The Knicks are beginning a four-game west coast trip on Monday and will not face another team currently out of the playoff race until the season finale against Philadelphia on April 12.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (41-29): Los Angeles did the same thing as Cleveland at Denver on Thursday, sitting Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan on the second night of a back-to-back and falling 129-114. Both players appeared well-rested while combining for 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting and 25 rebounds against the undermanned Cavaliers on Saturday. Point guard Chris Paul did not get the night off on Thursday and struggled on Saturday, going 0-of-8 from the floor in 27 minutes and finishing with five points - the second time in three games he failed to reach double figures.
1. Anthony is averaging 37.5 minutes in March while shooting 38 percent from the field.
2. Clippers SG J.J. Redick is averaging 17.5 points over the last four games - up from a season mark of 14.7.
3. Los Angeles took the last nine in the series, including a 119-115 win at New York on Feb. 8.
PREDICTION: Clippers 116, Knicks 103