The Los Angeles Clippers will wrap up a six-game road trip when they visit the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.
Los Angeles is riding a four-game winning streak and is 4-1 on the trip, which included a 124-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. The Clippers have won 20 of 27 games this season and have vaulted to the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference behind the Los Angeles Lakers, their Staples Center roommates.
“We can be really special,” Clippers forward Paul George recently said to reporters. “(Head coach Doc Rivers) is just doing a really great job of finding ways to just get everybody going, just finding ways to put them in their good spots, just having them flow offensively. Players kind of dictate the shots.”
The shots are falling.
Paul George scored 46 points against the Timberwolves on Saturday, and Kawhi Leonard finished with 42 points. It marked the first time in franchise history that two players scored 40-plus points in the same game.
Both players are averaging more than 23 points per game on the season, while veteran guard Lou Williams is averaging 19.9 points despite 41.2 percent shooting. The Clippers have scored 110-plus points six times in their last seven games.
It is possible that Leonard and or George could rest against the Bulls in the second half of a back-to-back set. Leonard has made it well known that he prefers load management, conserving his body for another playoff run.
On paper, the Bulls offer the Clippers a chance to turn to their depth players more while resting some starters.
Chicago is coming off an 83-73 loss against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night. It was the Bulls’ lowest-scoring NBA game this season. The Bulls’ 73 points also represented a single-game low for any team this year.
A 9-18 start to the season has increased pressure on Bulls coach Jim Boylen, as well as putting the spotlight on the longtime front office duo of Gar Forman and John Paxson. Boylen drew another round of tough questioning after his team’s latest loss, during which he benched No. 2 scorer Lauri Markkanen for much of the second half.
Another controversy recently stirred around veteran forward Thaddeus Young, who is unhappy with his playing time in his first season with the Bulls. He told the Chicago Sun-Times that his role was “not the best-case scenario,” but he remained committed to helping the franchise and his teammates however possible.
Boylen downplayed the comments from one of his key reserves.
“I think everybody wants more minutes,” Boylen said. “I think that’s part of the league. He’s a competitive person, he’s a good person, he’s a guy that wants to help the team win and he feels he can. I have no problem with him wanting more minutes, him wanting to be in the game longer. That’s what you’re supposed to want to do.”
This is the first of two regular-season meetings between the teams. They will reconvene April 8 in Los Angeles.
–Field Level Media