Extra Pass: Can Kings stop Clippers in Westbrook’s debut?

Published February 24, 2023, 3:00 PMPolo Bustamante

The Kings are looking to put an end to the Clippers’ two-game winning streak.

What’s up with the Sacramento Kings?

Don’t look now, but the Kings are just two games away from the second seed in the West. Sacramento isn’t just about to end their playoff drought, they’re about to enter the postseason as one of the top teams in the league.

The two biggest reasons for the rise of the Kings are their two All-Stars, Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox. They’re the focal points of one of the league’s most explosive offenses. Sabonis is leading the Kings in assists, averaging nearly 6.9 per game, while also putting up 18.8 points per game. Fox is the team’s leading scorer, scoring 24.8 points per game. He’s second in assists, dishing out 6.2 a game. Because of these two, the Kings are 119.5 points per game (1st) and 118.1 per 100 possessions, just 0.1 away from the top team in the league.

Just take a look at their latest game to see the damage the Kings can do. Sacramento hung 133 points on 54 percent shooting on the Portland Trail Blazers. Fox led the team with scoring, exploding for 31 points, missing only four shots in the game. Sabonis had another all-around game, recording a triple-double with an 18-18-10 line.

The beam that the Kings light up after every win is barely getting any rest because their team just keeps on winning.

What’s up with the LA Clippers?

Don’t look now but the Clippers are just 3.5 games away from the second seed in the West. But then again, this is exactly where everyone expected them to be at this point in the season.

The Clippers started off slow and have been plagued by injuries, especially to their superstars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. But they’ve gotten healthy in the past few games and have gotten a good rhythm going. LA has won 10 of their last 14 games before the All-Star break, including a five-game winning streak. They’ve won back-to-back games heading into this matchup. What makes this team so dangerous is the fact that while George and Leonard have been playing like All-Stars this season, the rest of the team have found their rhythm as well. 

In their last win against the Phoenix Suns before the break Leonard and George struggled to get their offense going. George shot 9/19 while Leonard was even worse with only 16 points on 5/18 shooting. They were still able to win comfortably against the Suns because the role players stepped up. Terance Mann led the team in scoring with 26 points. New additions Bones Hyland and Eric Gordon combined for 22 off the bench.

The new-look Clippers are going to unveil their newest addition, Russell Westbrook, in this game against the Kings. That just gives this team another weapon at their disposal.

Storyline to watch out for

Westbrook genuinely looks happy to be with the Clippers. It’s hard not to when he was actively recruited by several players on the team, including George, one of the team’s biggest stars. He’s wanted in this team, which is in direct contrast to how he was treated with the other team in LA.

That means Westbrook will be allowed to play his style of basketball. While that sounds good on paper, it sometimes doesn’t work out so well on the court. 

Westbrook can be an impactful player who can create for the rest of the Clippers. He can also do crazy things on the court that kills a team’s momentum. For better or worse, LA is getting all of Westbrook. This game against a free-flowing, offense-heavy team like the Kings should give Westbrook a lot of opportunities to make plays for his new team. How that will work out though has yet to be seen.


The Kings can capitalize on some post-All-Star rust and the integration of Westbrook. They’ll need to start fast and keep on pushing until the Clippers can’t keep up with them anymore. That’s their best bet to win. If they allow the Clippers to catch up to them, the league’s 10th best defensive team can grind them down to get the win.

Where to watch

You can catch the game live at 11:30 AM on NBA League Pass or via same day telecast at 2:00 PM on NBA TV Philippines, available via Smart Livestream and Cignal TV.