LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Clippers collected 41 assists on 48 shots against the Chicago Bulls on Monday, their highest assist total since 2015.
Only four teams (Nets, Bucks, Nuggets, Warriors) had more than 41 assists in one game this season.
Nicolas Batum was masterful for the Clippers going 8-10 from beyond the arc for 24 points. In 31 minutes Batum collected three rebounds, five assists and two steals.
According to ClutchPoints, Batum is expected to be the starting power forward in place of Marcus Morris Sr. for the rest of the season.
“It was nothing that Marcus did wrong,” said Ty Lue on what drove his decision on the change. “When you’re not playing well you want to try something different. … We got to sacrifice to be able to win.”
Turning point: The Clippers finally got the strong start they needed when they led 16-13 five minutes into the first quarter. Los Angeles extended their lead throughout the final quarter for the 124-112 victory over Chicago.
What it means: Los Angeles advances to 40-36 to keep its spot as the fifth seed in the Western Conference. The team is 7-3 in their last 10 games and have just two regular season home games left. The Phoenix Suns continue to closely lead Los Angeles by just half a game.
Hits: After suffering a facial contusion against New Orleans and being declared probable for Monday, Kawhi Leonard dropped 22 points on 61.5% shooting with seven rebounds and six assists. Eric Gordon also added 22 points of his own, along with five made three-point baskets.
Misses: Usual starter Morris was out against Chicago with an illness, as well as Paul George who continues to miss play time with a leg injury and still has no timetable on his return.
Stat of the game: The Clippers’ three-point shooting was at a hot .500 (20-40). Los Angeles also continued to keep their pace outscoring Chicago in fast break points, 26-15.
Up next: Los Angeles will kick off a mini road trip on Wednesday in Memphis against the Grizzlies for its next two consecutive games. The Clippers will have their work cut out for them. The Grizzlies are 32-5 at home and are third in the league in rebounds and blocks. As of now, Memphis (47-27) is second seeded in the West with a six-game win streak, including wins over Golden State and Dallas.