Kawhi Leonard Says Clippers Have ‘a Lot of Fight Left’ Despite 0-2 Deficit vs. Jazz

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Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard
said the team won’t back down from the challenge of trying
to come back from a 2-0 series deficit for the second straight series
after a Game 2 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

“We all got to put our will out on
the floor,” Leonard told reporters. “You know, see what we
did in the first two games and try to limit our mistakes and just
keep going on from there pretty much. We’ll see [on Friday] what we
got to do, and we’ve got a lot of fight left. So you know, we’re up
for the challenge.”

The Clippers trailed their first-round
series against the Dallas Mavericks at 2-0 and 3-2 before winning the
final two games to advance.

L.A. had three players surpass 20
points in Game 2 against the Jazz—Reggie Jackson (29), Paul
George (27) and Leonard (21)—but no other player scored
more than eight, and the team struggled mightily to come up with key
stops defensively.

Utah shot 55.3 percent from the field
and knocked down 20 threes en route to the commanding 2-0 series
advantage. Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 37 after scoring 45
in Game 1.

George explained the Clippers are “optimistic that we can get this under control” and get the
series back level with the next two games on their home floor at
Staples Center.

“We’ve got to give them credit,”
George said. “This is a tough opponent. They weren’t No. 1 in
the West for no reason. … But, you know, we are approaching this
the same way Dallas was—we still feel we have a lot of possessions
that we can clean up, a lot of possessions that are hurting us that’s
our fault.”

It was a similar story against Dallas.
Los Angeles allowed 240 points over the first two games before
holding Dallas to an average of 100.4 points over the final five
games to turn the series around.

The Clippers will need to up their
defensive performance once again if they’re going to forge another
comeback against the more well-rounded Jazz, who ranked third in the
NBA in offensive efficiency during the regular season, per ESPN.

Game 3 is a virtual must-win situation
for L.A. Utah posted the league’s best record at home (31-5) during
the regular season, so any comeback that would have to include two
victories on the road would represent a likely insurmountable
deficit.

Leonard, George and Co. can get right
back in the series by defending their own home floor, though. The next game comes Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

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