Clippers Notes: Leonard, Westbrook, Gordon, Ballmer

The Clippers aren’t playing Kawhi Leonard in back-to-back games, even though their record is terrible when he’s not available. Leonard sat out today’s contest due to injury management on his right knee, and L.A. had a four-game winning streak snapped by Orlando. The Clippers have lost their last seven games without Leonard and are just 3-14 since mid-November when he doesn’t play, tweets Law Murray of The Athletic.

Leonard is expected to return for Sunday’s contest at Portland, but his absence was obvious today, especially on defense, writes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. L.A. gave up 39 points in the fourth quarter while letting a lead slip away, and Russell Westbrook said it’s up to everyone else to step up their game when Leonard is sitting out.

“There’s no excuse for tonight,” he said. “We just didn’t close the game like we were supposed to, make the right plays like we needed to.”

There’s more on the Clippers:

  • Westbrook took the blame for today’s loss even though most of his numbers were pretty good, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. The veteran guard finished with 14 points, nine assists and five rebounds in 37 minutes. However, he committed six turnovers and went 0-for-3 from three-point range, dropping him to just 4-of-22 from long distance over the past seven games. “He’s a professional,” Paul George said. “He’s a veteran. Top 75 player. He’s going to get through it. He knows to stay confident, he knows that we trust him and got his back, that he’s going to stay in attack mode. I don’t ever worry about Russ’ shooting. I just know what he brings and his value to the team. And that is bigger than anything. He just does so much other stuff that I don’t care. He plays hard and that’s a guy that I want to roll with.”
  • Eric Gordon feels at home after the Clippers acquired him from Houston at the trade deadline, Carr adds in another Orange County Register story. Gordon, who started his career with L.A., has been a smooth fit since returning. “It definitely means a lot (to be back),” he said. “This was a situation I’ve always wanted to be in and looking forward to. We got a lot of talented guys and I think I kind of fit the mold of how they play and how they do things. It’s great to be back.”
  • Owner Steve Ballmer talked about the progress of the Clippers’ next home, the Intuit Dome, with Jabari Young of Forbes (subscription required).
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