Monday, December 5, 2022
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Preview: Chicago Bulls (8-4) at Los Angeles Clippers (8-4)

The surging Los Angeles Clippers seek their eighth consecutive win when they face the visiting Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.

Los Angeles is playing the second leg of a back-to-back on Sunday, coming on the heels of their seventh straight win, 129-102, Saturday over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Paul George extended his streak of games scoring at least 20 points to eight on Saturday, finishing with 23.

George also grabbed nine rebounds and dished four assists, continuing a trend of strong all-around play to lead a Clippers team that has faced a variety of absences from the lineup throughout the season.

Kawhi Leonard remains sidelined with the knee injury he sustained in last season’s playoffs. Keon Johnson missed Saturday’s win due to an ankle injury, and Marcus Morris remains out recovering from knee soreness.

Los Angeles aims to build on its streak behind the outstanding play of George on Sunday against one of the breakout teams early in the 2021-22 NBA season. Despite a strong start to the campaign, however, the Bulls come in off their worst performance thus far.

Chicago opened a five-game, Western Conference road swing on Friday in a 119-93 loss to Golden State, owner of the NBA’s best record.

“It’s really our first adversity (of the season),” DeMar DeRozan said in his postgame press conference on Friday. “Adversity builds a lot of character, so I’m pretty sure we’re going to look at a lot of film tomorrow and figure out what we can do and be better at (for the) next game.”

The blowout loss dropped Chicago to 2-3 over its last five after a 6-1 start, and also marked the Bulls’ first double-digit-point margin of defeat on the year.

DeRozan and Zach LaVine were the only Bulls to score in double figures at Golden State with 18 and 23 points. LaVine also committed seven turnovers, part of Chicago’s 20 on the game.

The Bulls average 13 turnovers on the season, fourth-lowest in the league. The Clippers, meanwhile, boast one of the league’s most prolific turnover-generating defenses.

Los Angeles forced just 10 on Saturday, but the Clippers held the Timberwolves to less than 40 percent shooting from the floor at 40-of-102.

“Our first unit came out and really set the tone defensively,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said in his postgame press conference. “That’s what we needed to start the game.”

Lue credited Nicolas Batum for helping limit Karl-Anthony Towns to just eight points. Los Angeles also got a key contribution to its post defense from reserve Isaiah Hartenstein, who blocked three shots.

Bench play has been vital to the Clippers’ strong start, including the play of Luke Kennard and Terance Mann. The wing duo provide scoring punch, and at almost 45 percent shooting, Kennard has emerged as one of Los Angeles’ most dangerous 3-point shooters.

For Chicago, Sunday is the first of back-to-back games in Los Angeles, and a homecoming for its entire starting backcourt.

DeRozan is a native of nearby Compton, Calif., and played collegiately at USC. LaVine and Lonzo Ball both played at UCLA, and Ball is a native of Los Angeles suburb Chino Hills.

Ty Gaston

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