LeBron James leads Cavaliers to 58-41 halftime lead over Clippers

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

Chris Paul and J.J. Redick scored 11 points apiece, but the Cleveland Cavaliers took a 58-41 lead over the Clippers into the halftime break Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.

The Clippers led 14-4 early, but it was all Cavs (46-18) after that. LeBron James led Cleveland with 16 points and five rebounds and Kevin Love had 12 points and six rebounds.

The Clippers (42-22) shot 40.5 percent from the field, just 27.8 (5 of 18) from 3-point range.

The Cavs shot 47.8 percent overall, 35.3 (6 of 17) from beyond the arc.

Clippers prepare to take on LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers

Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, right, watches his shot as Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Cleveland’s LeBron James guards the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant during the Cavaliers’ 120-108 victory Thursday at Staples Center. James and the Cavs will take on the Clippers on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center/AP photo by Danny Moloshok

 

For the L.A. Clippers, it would be nice if they could take on the Cleveland Cavaliers with Blake Griffin back in the lineup. That way they could really get an idea of where they’re at just more than a month away from the post-season.

That’s not the case, though, as Griffin has yet to be medically cleared from his partially torn left quad tendon and fractured right hand. Once he is, he’ll still have to serve a four-game suspension for punching Matias Testi, a team equipment staffer, on Jan. 23 in Toronto.

Coach Doc Rivers realizes what his Clippers will be up against when they square off with the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers (46-18), who have the third-best record in the league behind Golden State and San Antonio, Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center.

“They’re tough, they’re playing good basketball,” Rivers said. “They have so many players, you know, that could make plays. And that’s what makes them dangerous. Obviously, LeBron (James), but Kyrie (Irving) and (Kevin) Love. Their other guys are playing well for them, too, so it’s going to be a tough matchup for us.”

The Cavaliers have won five of their past six after losing two in a row – at Toronto (99-97) on Feb. 26 and at Washington (113-99) on Feb. 28.
Small forward James leads his team in scoring and assists with respective averages of 24.9 and 6.6. Power forward Love is averaging 15.8 points and a team-high 10 rebounds and point guard Irving is averaging 19.8 points and 4.6 assists.

The Cavaliers defeated the Clippers 115-102 on Jan. 21 in Cleveland. Griffin did not play in that game, either, as he has not played since Christmas night against the Lakers.

The Clippers (42-22) are 25-9 sans Griffin.

Chris Paul after loss to Cavs: Recent defense unacceptable

Wesley Johnson, left, of the Clippers guards Kevin Love of the Cavaliers/AP photo by Tony Dejak

 

The Clippers allowed only 96.6 points per game during their recent 10-game winning streak. Including Thursday, when the Clippers were defeated 115-102 at Cleveland, the Clippers have given up 357 points over their past three games, two of which were losses.

That’s an average of 119 points. Chris Paul said after Thursday’s loss that has to change.

“No question, our defense has been unacceptable for the past few games,” Paul said. “J.J. (Redick) and I were talking about it. We’re just not being solid, we’re not being disciplined and we’re not doing our principles. It’s nothing on the coaches. It’s just us. The good thing about it is that we know the right things to do. We’ve just got to work on our communication and start talking more.”

The Clippers (27-15) played their 12th consecutive game without Blake Griffin, who is expected to return on this road trip from a partially torn left quad tendon.

Next up for the Clippers, Friday at New York.

 

Blake Griffin, Kevin Love not certain to play in Monday’s game at Minnesota

There is a chance that the best player on each team won’t play Monday when the Clippers (52-22) play at Minnesota at 5 p.m.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin played only six minutes before going down with back spasms Saturday in a victory at Houston. He was listed as day-to-day. And it’s doubtful coach Doc Rivers would take a chance on playing Griffin if he is not 100 percent or very close to it. The playoffs are around the corner.

For the T’Wolves (36-36), Kevin Love had a poor game in a loss Sunday at Brooklyn, going for just 14 points and nine rebounds – well below his season averages of 26.2 points and 12.6 rebounds. A story on ESPN.com said Love said afterward that he was “exhausted” and might be getting sick.

The Clippers are 3-0 against Minnesota this season, the victories coming by just two, four and four points. Love had 45 points and 19 rebounds in a 120-116 T’Wolves overtime loss to the Clippers on Dec. 22 at Staples Center.