Grieving Clippers prepare to host Kings

The Los Angeles Clippers return from an unexpected four-day break to host the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.

The NBA postponed Tuesday’s contest between the Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers due to the death of Kobe Bryant, who was killed along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in Calabasas, Calif., less than an hour north of Los Angeles. A makeup date for the game hasn’t been announced.

The Clippers coped with the tragedy after learning of it before tip-off by capturing a 112-97 win over the host Orlando Magic on Sunday. Kawhi Leonard had 31 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists to lead Los Angeles. Landry Shamet and Montrezl Harrell added 19 points apiece.

Like the entire NBA and much of the sports world, Bryant’s death shook the Clippers. Three days after his demise, they were still reeling.

«I’ve been going through so many different emotions,» said Williams after the team’s practice Wednesday, according to the Orange County Register. Williams played with Bryant in his final season with the Lakers in 2016.

«Happy. Sad. And just dealing with it on so many different levels, from knowing him, playing with him and being a fan. And, it’s tough. I cried myself to sleep last night and I woke up feeling better today. It’s just a rough time for everybody who was a fan of him, and everybody that knew him,» Williams added.

The Clippers have awakened from some inconsistent play earlier this month by winning six of their last seven games and posting a 4-1 road trip after the victory over the Magic. Leonard has been the major reason, scoring at least 30 points in eight consecutive contests. In his last eight games, Leonard is averaging 35 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists on 51.8 percent shooting.

George, who missed the last eight games with a strained left hamstring, is listed as probable for Thursday’s contest. He hasn’t played since Jan. 5, when he scored 32 points in a 135-132 decision over the New York Knicks. Guard Patrick Beverley, out the previous three games with a groin injury, also is listed as probable.

The Kings lost at home 120-100 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. The defeat ended a modest two-game winning streak for the Kings, who had dropped six in a row before beating the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Chicago Bulls.

Bogdan Bogdanovic led Sacramento with 23 points, while De’Aaron Fox added 19 against Oklahoma City.

The Kings fell into an early hole and never recovered. They trailed 59-47 at the break before the Thunder blew the contest open in the third quarter by outscoring the Kings 37-29 for a 96-76 advantage heading into the fourth.

Kings power forward Marvin Bagley III sat out his fourth straight game with left foot soreness.

In their last meeting on Dec. 31, the Clippers earned a 105-87 victory behind 21 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists by George. Los Angeles has a 10-game winning streak over Sacramento.

–Fiedl Level Media