May 24, 2024

The Clippers are starting to find their stride as a group, and it is the talented threesome of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and James Harden who are as in-tune with each now more than any other time since they have come together to form this team.

They have won a season-high five straight games, the latest being a 119-98 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night at Crypto.com Arena.

They built a 30-point lead in the first half, showing signs of a team that is getting more and more comfortable with each other since the rocky start when Harden was acquired and the Clippers were mired in a five-game losing streak – six total – after he joined the team in November.

They increased the lead to as much as 33 in the third quarter, another sign of how the Clippers are developing their chemistry.

Clippers coach Ty Lue had preached patience. His players listened.

“I know we had a rough start, but just staying the course,” Lue said before the game. “I give our players credit just for every single day coming in, every shoot-around, every practice, looking to get better and trying to understand and try to find out how they make each other better.”

Leonard was masterful again, his efficient 31 points on 11-for-14 shooting another indication of how he has found his groove in what was a back-to-back game for both the Clippers and Kings.

The only bad news was the Clippers announcing that George wasn’t going to play in the second half because of a sore left groin. He had nine points and six rebounds in 16 first-half minutes.

Harden was back running the show with precision, scoring 15 points, handing out seven assists and grabbing six rebounds.

Then the Clippers had Norman Powell, who started in the second half in place of George, providing 15 points and Terance Mann getting 10 points.

The Clippers won this game with a smothering defense.

They kept Kings All-Star guard De’Aaron Fox underwraps, holding the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer (30.4 points per game) to just 14 points on five-for-16 shooting.

They kept the high-flying Kings grounded, holding the league’s eighth-highest scoring team (117.1) to under 100 points.

The Kings shot just 41.9% from the field, 25% from three-point range.

Meanwhile, the Clippers lit up the Kings, making 52.4% of their shots.

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