Clippers look to end skid, maintain hold on Rockets

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — The struggling Los Angeles Clippers will aim to halt a four-game losing streak when they host the Houston Rockets on Monday night.

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard (right knee) will miss his fourth straight game and fifth of the season. He recently returned from an ACL injury that occurred in June of 2021.

Leonard’s absence has been highly noticeable over the past three games as Los Angeles lost twice at Oklahoma City by an average of 11 points before being routed at home 112-91 by the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.

Clippers point guard John Wall said he spoke to the team after Sunday’s loss. One of his messages was that the club isn’t playing up to its talent level.

“The last four games, we’ve been down almost 20 like every game,” Wall told reporters. “We just gotta find a way to tuck our pride and just look ourselves in the mirror, even though it’s still early, and figure out what we could do best for this team, each individual.”

Los Angeles co-star Paul George had another shaky performance. He scored 14 points on 5-of-19 shooting against New Orleans.

George scored 40 points against the Sacramento Kings on Oct. 22, the club’s most recent victory. In his other four games this season, he is averaging 13.8 points on 31.5 percent shooting (17 of 54).

“We just got to raise the intensity,” George said. “It comes down to identity, who we’re gonna be, and with that we’ve got to raise the intensity on both sides. It starts with me. I was poor (Sunday), been poor the past couple games. I’ll get it together. I’m committed to my work, I’m committed to this team succeeding. It starts with me, I got to get better, I got to do better.”

The Clippers will look to begin the turnaround against Houston. Los Angeles went 3-0 against the Rockets last season and has won six of the past seven meetings.

The two teams will meet again on Wednesday night at Houston.

The Rockets are 0-3 on a four-game road trip that wraps up against the Clippers. Houston lost 124-109 to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.

The Rockets have opened the campaign with six losses in seven games and four of the setbacks have been by double digits.

But Sunday’s margin of defeat is misleading. Houston trailed the powerhouse Suns by just five points with 5:40 remaining before being outscored 21-11 the rest of the way.

“As hard as we fought, we were just saying the score definitely doesn’t indicate how close this game was and how hard our team fought this game,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “I’m proud of our guys.”

Kevin Porter Jr. matched his season best with 26 points. Porter has topped 20 in four of Houston’s seven games.

Alperen Sengun added 16 points and nine rebounds against the Suns. Jalen Green scored 15 points but made just 5 of 18 shots.

No. 3 overall pick Jabari Smith Jr. scored just eight points, marking the first time he didn’t score in double figures. Smith is averaging 13 points but shooting just 33.3 percent from the field.

Veteran Eric Gordon (groin) sat out against the Suns and could miss Monday’s game as well.

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