LOS ANGELES — Russell Westbrook didn’t hesitate when asked what the Clippers could do better when they travel to Portland for Sunday’s game against the Trailblazers.
He directed a finger at himself after the Clippers lost to the Orlando Magic 113-108 on Saturday at Crypto.com Arena.
“This one’s on me honestly tonight,” Westbrook said. “I could have been better. Started off good, but just in the second half was terrible. I got to do a better job of helping the guys out in the second half and the fourth quarter.
“So, it’s nothing anybody did. But honestly, it’s on me to be more focused in closing the game.”
Westbrook had a point. He started the game by making 4 of 6 shots for 11 points with three assists and three rebounds in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, he took and missed one shot but had two assists. By the end of the game, Westbrook finished with 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting with no 3-pointers, nine assists and five rebounds. He, like the rest of the team, struggled from outside, missing all three of his 3-pointers.
The Clippers shot 6 of 22 from behind the 3-point line and made only two 3-pointers after halftime against Orlando’s transition defense.
“That’s more on me,” Westbrook said. “My job is to be able to penetrate and get guys open shots, and get them open 3s, and I didn’t do a good enough job of that. I’ll make sure I’ll be better at that tomorrow.”
Paul George said he wasn’t worried about Westbrook’s struggle Saturday. He said the veteran knows what it takes to turn around his shooting game.
“He’s going to get through it. He knows to stay confident, and he knows that we trust him and got his back, that he’s going to stay in attack mode,” George said. “I don’t ever worry about Russ’ shooting.
“I just know what he brings and his value to the team. And that is bigger than anything. Whether he makes or misses shots is part of the game. He just does so much other stuff that I don’t care. He plays hard and that’s a guy that I want to roll with. He’s a guy I want to compete with on a nightly basis, so he knows to just stay confident and just keep shooting.”
COVINGTON MAKES AN APPEARANCE
Robert Covington, who had not seen action since March 3 against Sacramento, came into the game during the first quarter and scored nine of his 11 points in the first half. He also had one rebound, one assist, three steals and two deflections in 23 minutes.
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“He was solid,” said Clippers associate head coach Dan Craig. “He came in and gave us a good show on both sides of the ball. Did some things disruptive defensively, and offensively he got out there. It was good. Solid.”
Westbrook called Covington a professional. Despite not playing much, he is upbeat and doesn’t complain about his lack of minutes.
“He was great. He was ready to go. He was locked in, and he did the best he could with the minutes given to him,” Wesbrook said.