Clippers hope to start clicking again against Knicks
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LOS ANGELES -- As the New York Knicks take their struggles to Hollywood on Friday night, the Los Angeles Clippers are only happy to play host.
With the Clippers fighting to stay into playoff contention in the Western Conference, the prospect of playing a team with one victory in its last 11 games is appealing. It is especially welcome after L.A. fell to the NBA's top team, the Houston Rockets, at home Wednesday.
The Knicks have shown nothing of late to strike fear into the Clippers. New York gave up 125 points in a loss at Golden State on Monday and 121 in a loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday.
The Clippers, meanwhile, have gone full throttle on offense lately, although they had their issues scoring against the Rockets in a 105-92 loss. In the four games before that, though, the Clippers scored 126.5 points per game, with matchups against the Warriors and Celtics in that run.
The loss to the Rockets, though, did drop the Clippers out of the No. 8 and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 22 games remaining.
At least the Clippers still have something to play for, even without Blake Griffin, who was traded to the Detroit Pistons.
The Knicks have 20 games remaining and losing them all would seem to be in their best interest in order to improve their draft prospects.
But guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was having none of the "tanking" talk as Friday's game in Los Angeles approached.
"The last 20 games, we have to go all out," Hardaway said, according to the New York Daily News. "If people think we're going to tank and just give up games and stuff like that, they're rooting for the wrong team. We're not built that way. We're not losers. And we don't look at that as a way of just summing up our season.
"We're ballplayers. We have confidence in ourselves and if people want to doubt us than they can go cheer for somebody else."
The Knicks' fortunes seemed to turn when Hardaway suffered a leg injury in November. He hasn't been able to slow the mounting defeats, with the loss of Kristaps Porzingis in early February the biggest blow.
The Clippers have known all about injuries in a bad-luck season and are still dealing with it, even while barely keeping their head above water.
Starting guard Avery Bradley is out with a groin injury, and starting forward Danilo Gallinari has been day to day with a hand bruise. Guard Tyrone Wallace (personal reasons) is day to day, and guard Jwaun Evans has been out for a month with an abdomen issue.
And yet the Clippers sit a half game out of a playoff spot and just 2 1/2 games from the fifth spot in the division. The fourth-place San Antonio Spurs are just three games ahead of the Clippers, but L.A. would have to jump four teams to move up that far.
"I think as a player, obviously, you have to control what you can control," Clippers forward Tobias Harris said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "That's how we play, and a lot of it's going to come down to us handling our business and taking care of what we need to take care of."
On Friday, all the Clippers need to focus on is the Knicks.
Updated March 1, 2018