Clippers take on Bulls, eyeing postseason

From FOX Sports - March 13, 2018

Clippers @ Bulls

Tuesday, Mar. 13 @ 4:30 p.m. PT

TV: FOX Sports San Diego/Prime Ticket/FOX Sports GO

CHICAGOIf the Los Angeles Clippers hope to hold onto the Western Conferences final playoff spot, they will have to play well enough down the stretch to stave off the teams that remain hot on their tail.

The Clippers enter Tuesdays game against the Chicago Bulls having won two straight games and eight of their past 11 as the regular season winds down. Although the Bulls have long been out of postseason contention as they focus on evaluating and developing young players for the future, Chicago isnt conceding anything as it plays out the string.

For the Clippers (36-29), that means continuing to play as well on the road beginning Tuesday at the United Centeras they did when they won four of six on their recent homestand.

Tough games, every game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers told the Los Angeles Times after a victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday. Weve just got to keep our focus. Weve got the one game at a time mantra, which weve kept all year.

As much as the Bulls have struggled this season as they begin a multiyear rebuilding effort, the Clipperswho will also face the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder on back-to-back nights later this weekcant afford to overlook its first stop of its three-game road swing in Chicago.

With 17 regular-season games left and with virtually no room for serious error to remain in playoff contention, the Clippers understand the importance of building off the momentum they have established in their past 10 games.

Weve got a tough stretch coming up, Clippers guard Lou Williams told the Times. So to go on the road with a couple of wins under our belt, it feels good.

Chicago (23-43) has dropped seven of its past 10 games but is coming off a come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. Establishing consistency and cohesiveness has not been easy for the Bulls since the All-Star break when team executives committed to spending the remainder of the regular season experimenting with a variety of combinations to go along with Chicagos young core of Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and rookie Lauri Markkanen.

The youth movement hasnt produced much success and hasnt allowed players like Dunn to establish a rhythm as the talent around him is constantly changing.

Its toughyou cant get by it, Dunn told reporters recently, according to the Chicago Tribune. But were all menjust play basketball. Thats our job. (You) dont try to get too involved with the other stuff thats going on. I just try to have positive energy and try to bring it every day. Thats the only thing I can do.

That has been the mindset the Bulls have been forced to take on as their struggles have continued throughout the season. And while theres not much Dunn and his teammates can do about their circumstances, coach Fred Hoiberg still expects his players to remain as competitive as possible.

It doesnt matter whos on the floor. You have to play with great effort and hopefully unselfishness, Hoiberg told the Tribune. It is good for those (core) guys to have to figure it out. Those three guys are young players still trying to find their way.A big part of this is who is going to emerge as leaders.


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