Charles Barkley is starting to change his mind about the LA Clippers being the favorites to win the championship this season. Barkley believes that lineup changes due to the absence of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are hurting the Clippers' role players.
On the most recent episode of Inside the NBA, the TNT crew discussed the Clippers' 122-91 blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets. Barkley pointed out Norman Powell's struggles when playing with Leonard and George.
"Three weeks ago, Norman Powell was the best player on the court that night," Barkley said. "He scored 36 points, he was amazing. Paul and Kawhi back, he gets three shots. That ain't no fun for him. I know he wants to have them for their team to be great.
"But if you go to the gym and like, 'Man, I'm gonna get five shots. They just want me to play defense and run around out there.' That ain't fun to go to work."
It was a totally embarrassing performance for the LA Clippers against a fellow contender in the Western Conference. Kawhi Leonard played just 18 minutes and finished with six points, three rebounds and two assists. Paul George was even worse, scoring just three points in 14 minutes.
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The Clippers have now lost four games in a row, putting them in sixth place in the standings with a 21-19 record. Leonard and George have only played together 15 times this season, and the Clippers are 9-6 in those games.
Leonard has been limited due to injury management of his surgically-repaired right knee. George, on the other hand, has dealt with minor injuries to his hand, knee and hamstring.
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LA Clippers lethargic in blowout loss to Denver Nuggets
The LA Clippers were lethargic on both sides of the floor in their 122-91 loss to the Denver Nuggets. The Clippers were already down by 34 points at the end of the first half. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George didn't play in the second half as the Clippers essentially gave up.
They shot just 37.4% from the field for the game, including going 5-for-37 from beyond the arc. There was nothing good for the Clippers in the second half as the Nuggets cruised to a victory.
"We didn't have a defensive mindset to start the game and it kind of hurt us," Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said after the game. "We've got to be better defensively. We knew that coming into the game, or they embarrass you. Tonight was a tough game for us."
The LA Clippers have a chance to end their four-game losing streak on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Since it's the second game of a back-to-back, it's possible that both Leonard and George will be rested.
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