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Clippers host banged-up 76ers

LOS ANGELES -- The injury-depleted Philadelphia 76ers will try to shake Thursday's painful loss to the Portland Trail Blazers when they play the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday at Staples Center.

The Sixers (23-41), who have dropped three in a row and six of their past seven games, endured a 114-108 overtime defeat at Portland despite a career-high 28 points and nine rebounds from forward Dario Saric.
Robert Covington collected 24 points and 13 rebounds, but an intentional foul by the Sixers forward of Portland guard C.J. McCollum with 19.5 seconds remaining in regulation and the score tied at 95 cost the club. Covington believed Philadelphia trailed by a point at the time. Although Covington scored at the buzzer to force overtime, the Sixers eventually folded in the extra session.

"Stuff like that happens," Sixers coach Brett Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I think what we should all, sort of, finally remember is how good of an effort he made to get that put-back at the end of the game and really what a good game he had. That play was a mistake and you move on."

That might be an obstacle against the Clippers. Los Angeles (39-26) has won nine of the last 10 games versus Philadelphia with an average margin of 18 points per victory. The Clippers shot 49.8 percent to 39.7 percent for the Sixers during that stretch. The Clippers have prevailed in their last four home games.

However, the Sixers rallied from a 19-point deficit to capture the last contest 121-110 on Jan. 4 at Philadelphia. Los Angeles played without point guard Chris Paul, who was recovering from thumb surgery, and coach Doc Rivers missed the game with an illness. It also was Blake Griffin's first game back after missing more than a month due to knee surgery.

The Sixers have been hurting all season. Center Joel Embiid (knee) and top draft pick Ben Simmons (acute fracture, right foot) are out for the season. Philadelphia also will be without center Tiago Splitter (right calf strain) and guard Jerryd Bayless (left wrist surgery) against the Clippers.

The Clippers are healthy, but inconsistency has plagued them. They are 4-5 since the All-Star break.

Los Angles split its two-game trip to Minnesota, where they were handed a 16-point setback on Wednesday, and Memphis, where they pounded the Grizzlies 114-98 on Thursday. Austin Rivers scored a team-high 20 points, Paul contributed 19 points and seven assists and Griffin added 14 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for the Clippers, who are two games behind the Utah Jazz for the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference playoff race.

A team meeting preceded the blowout.

"We know we haven't played the way we should," Griffin said. "So sometimes you've got to scrap the film (session), scrap the walk-through and just talk and let guys get some frustrations out and talk about what they're seeing. So, hearing from everyone was good. Hearing from Doc was good. I think we all walked away feeling like we needed to do our individual jobs better."

For the Sixers, the game against the Clippers will be the first of back-to-back contests at Staples. Philadelphia faces the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

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