Fresh off disastrous loss, Clippers aim to get right vs. Wizards

The Los Angeles Clippers will search for answers in order to recover from their post All-Star-break funk when they host the Washington Wizards on Friday night.

The Clippers have lost three of four games since the break, with the latest defeat coming in devastating fashion after they squandered a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

The Clippers were rolling with a crisp offense and the return to the kind of defense that keyed their run up the Western Conference standings. Then came a rush of LeBron James baskets as the Lakers pulled off a 116-112 victory.

The Clippers were without Paul George and Ivica Zubac, but it appeared it wouldn’t matter. George has missed the last two games with a minor ankle injury, while Zubac was out with an illness.

Despite a 98-77 lead with just under 12 minutes remaining, the Clippers were in a tie game less than eight minutes later.

The Lakers were up by six points with 1:12 left before the Clippers’ last-gasp effort fell short when Kawhi Leonard missed a game-tying shot with less than 10 seconds remaining. Leonard finished with 26 points.

“It’s over. You know, it’s one game,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Play well for three quarters, didn’t finish the game. I never like to let one loss, or a bad loss, take away what we’ve been doing and what we built.”

The Clippers committed seven turnovers in the fourth quarter; the Lakers turned them into 17 points.

“We just try to focus on game by game … possession by possession,” said the Clippers’ James Harden, who had 23 points. “It was a tough one, but I think throughout the course of the game, for the most part, we played pretty well. We’ll watch film, get better and be ready to go next game.”

The Wizards will have a quick turnaround following a tough 134-131 overtime setback to the Lakers on Thursday that extended their losing streak to 13 games.

The Wizards scored their most points in a game since they also had 131 on Dec. 18, but that was a loss as well, at Sacramento.

Despite getting demoted to the reserve unit, Washington’s Jordan Poole is experiencing a revival. He had 20 of his season-high 34 points in the first half Thursday and has averaged 23.2 points in five games off the bench.

“It’s stuff that we all think he can do,” Wizards interim head coach Brian Keefe said. “We told him we want him to be aggressive for himself and for others. When the shots are going in, the process has been good, and he made them tonight. He can generate a lot of offense for us. It’s part of the reason we wanted him with the ball more.”

But Poole missed a 3-point attempt that would have won the game at the regulation buzzer. He then missed two 3-point attempts in the final minute of OT as the Wizards did not make a field goal in the final four minutes of the five-minute overtime.

Marvin Bagley III scored 23 points for Washington, and Corey Kispert and Kyle Kuzma each added 20. Kuzma also had 10 rebounds, Deni Avdija had 15 points and 15 rebounds, and Tyus Jones had 11 assists.