Knicks go for season sweep vs. Clippers
The New York Knicks will go for a season sweep of Los Angeles when they visit the Clippers for an afternoon affair on Sunday.
New York has won just 13 times this season, but three have come in the club's last five games.
Another was recorded in January when the Knicks ventured into the Staples Center for the first time this season and stunned the LeBron James-less Lakers 119-112 behind balanced scoring.
Four of the seven players who scored in double figures for New York that day won't be with the team on Sunday, with Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Enes Kanter having been traded away, while Mario Hezonja is sidelined with a bruised leg.
Knicks newcomers have contributed to the club's recent success, with Dennis Smith Jr. scoring 19 points in last Sunday's home win over San Antonio, before Henry Ellenson put up 13 points in a win two nights later against Orlando.
A trip west means a homecoming for impressive Knicks rookie Allonzo Trier, who grew up in Seattle, attended high school in Nevada and played one season at Arizona.
The undrafted 23-year-old has exploded for 18 or more points in four of his last six games, averaging 15.7 points while shooting 56 percent overall and 50 percent on 3-pointers.
Trier has just five assists in his last five games, which he says is by design.
"What I do best is score the ball, and I was kind of thinking pass first," he said of the first half of the season. "It kind of took away from how I was playing. I just had to be able to find a balance and get back to being who I am and what I do best."
The Clippers are coming off a key win at Sacramento in their pursuit of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The two clubs entered the showdown separated by just one game in the loss column.
Like the Knicks, the Clippers have been playing improved ball since making some deals at the trade deadline that weren't necessarily designed to result in short-term gain.
Newcomers Landry Shamet (20 points), Ivica Zubac (10 points, 10 rebounds) and JaMychal Green (eight points, 11 rebounds) came up big in the 116-109 win over the Kings.
Shamet acknowledged the importance of Friday's win, which could lead to a letdown against the league's second-worst team on Sunday.
"You pay attention to the playoff standings, where teams are," he admitted to reporters after the Sacramento game. "You don't want to look too far ahead, but they're right with us. Definitely, the playoff race adds motivation."
The Clippers will play their next eight games at the Staples Center, although they'll technically be listed as the visitor when they face the Lakers on Monday night.
Sunday's game also serves as the front end of a back-to-back for the Knicks, who will take a crack at the Kings in Sacramento on Monday.
The Clippers have won six straight at home against the Knicks dating back to 2010.
The clubs will meet in a rematch in New York on March 24.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 2, 2019