Pacific Notes: Clippers, Powell, Kawhi, Warriors, Metu

Last week, with the Clippers in the midst of a six-game losing streak that dropped their overall record to 21-21, veteran swingman Norman Powell spoke to his teammates to reiterate his confidence in the group and to remind them what they’re capable of, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Powell, along with Kawhi Leonardwas a member of the Raptors team that won a championship in 2019 and believes this year’s Clippers have a similar ceiling.

“I talked to the team. I told them: ‘This team is deeper than the Raptors team I was on. It’s all about identity and who we are and how we’re going to play,’” Powell said. “I feel like every team goes through it. If you look back at championship teams and top teams, there’s always a point in the season where you get here. And we’ve been here a couple times for whatever reason it is, and it’s just gutting up and taking it and coming out of it.”

The 2018/19 Raptors were far more consistent than this year’s Clippers have been, but Powell pointed to a stretch in January 2019 when Toronto lost three of four games (the third at home to Milwaukee on national TV) as a turning point for that club . There’s hope that the Clippers’ recent slide can galvanize this team in the same way and compel them to play with more urgency in the second half.

“The identity of who we are every single night that we’re on the floor is the biggest thing that we have to figure out, and that doesn’t matter who’s suiting up that night,” Powell said. “It’s just, we’re going to be a hard-nosed, tough-playing defense. We’re going to be an offense that moves the ball, attacks you, puts pressure on the rim and generates open shots. And that’s not — PG (Paul George) doesn’t have to play for that, Kawhi doesn’t have to play for that. That’s just an identity and style of basketball we have to start really locking into now.”

The Clippers snapped losing their streak and got back over .500 with a victory over Dallas on Tuesday.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • After leading the Clippers past Luka Doncic and the Mavs on Tuesday by scoring a season-high 33 points in 36 minutes, Kawhi Leonard acknowledged that he’s relieved to no longer be on the minutes limit that he faced earlier in the season. “If you’re basing it on minute restriction, it is frustrating,” Leonard said, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “Because I’m not going in there jacking shots, so I’m trying to play team basketball. It was frustrating (with the restriction). We were losing games. From a minute restriction, I’m not the only one either that was on it. Guys have been in and out the lineup all year, getting injured.”
  • the Warriors had their full starting lineup available on Tuesday for the first time since December 3, but lost at home to the shorthanded Suns in a game that showed Stephen Curry and the rest of the rotation still have dust to shake off, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Curry, who scored 16 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, said he “felt like myself again” by the end of the game. “I’m hoping that fourth quarter was the team that I have come to know and love and recognize,” head coach Steve Kerr he said. “But we have to show in the first quarter, not in the fourth quarter.”
  • Chimezie Metu rejoined the Kings‘ rotation as the backup center on Monday for the first time since early December and had his best game of the season, with 11 points and nine rebounds in 14 minutes. The performance went a long way toward rebuilding head coach Mike Brown‘s trust in Metu, according to Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. Brown said he thought the big man “relaxed just a little bit” before losing his spot in the rotation last month.

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