LOS ANGELES — There are plenty of NBA scouts at Knicks’ games these days with the trade deadline approaching on Feb. 7.
If Marcus Morris keeps racking up astounding numbers, he’s going to score himself off the Knicks.
The Knicks arrived to glorious weather and looked invigorated early Sunday — dashing to a 16-point lead after one quarter against the Clippers who played without Kawhi Leonard.
But after they gave it all away, Morris willed them back into it and the Knicks nearly stole the Staples Center matinee as the Clippers hung on for dear life in a 135-132 shootout.
Morris finished with a career-high 38 points — 10 in the fourth quarter — to lead the Knicks back into it. He finished 13 of 19 — 6 of 7 from 3-point range — making clutch bucket after clutch bucket down the stretch.
He’s on a one-year deal and if the Knicks are fading, there is motivation to trade him for a first-round pick. Morris has never lit it up in the NBA like he has this season.
“The NBA is about opportunity,’’ Morris said. “Being able to show this took me a long time where it was needed. Every team I’ve been on, I’ve played my role. I’m happy to be able to showcase my talent and take it to another level. ‘’
Morris has steadfastly stated he wants to remain and be part of the long-term future. These Clippers are said to be interested and The Post reported the Sixers are monitoring his situation.
“I’m in New York,’’ Morris said. “It ain’t going to change. I love our team and love our future. I want to be part of helping young guys grow. That was the reason I wanted to come here. It’s just in me to be a leader. Young guys, that’s what I’m here to do, help them on and off the court.’’
The Knicks led 45-29 after that first quarter and the 45 points tied the 1978 franchise record for most points in an opening quarter. The Knicks shot 19 of 25 from the field in the quarter, but the Clippers flipped the switch in the second period and outscored the Knicks 47-24 and hung on.
Morris’ 3-pointer made it a one-possession game at 131-128 with 38 seconds left. However, Morris scored again from midrange, again cutting it to 3 with 10.4 seconds left, but the Knicks couldn’t pull it out.
“We wanted to win but it was a positive step in competition level and competing with a team that good,’’ said Morris, who is averaging 18.5 points and shooting 46 percent from 3. “They’re one of the favorites to win the championship. To have a big lead on them, it says a lot about us. We competed our asses off.”
Interim coach Mike Miller, who fell to 6-8, was hardly upset at what he saw.
“I love the effort, the fight, the scrap to have to come back,’’ Miller said. “The grit we showed to stay in the game and put ourselves in position to get a win, I am really proud of this group.’’
Leonard didn’t play, resting on the second leg of a back-to-back, but rugged power forward Montrezl Harrell did play. The 25-year-old was dominant, killing the Knicks with 34 points in 36 minutes on 13 of 21 shooting.
Paul George added 32 points and Lou Williams came off the bench to dazzle from 3-pont range, racking up 32 points.
However, the Knicks (10-26) were boosted by a bounce-back game from RJ Barrett, who weaved his best game in a couple of weeks with 24 points on 7 of 11 shooting with his godfather, Steve Nash, on hand.
“It’s a game of runs — the thing with them is they have two of the best scorers in the league coming off the bench,’’ Barrett said, referring to Harrell and Williams.
Both teams reached 100 points before the fourth quarter began with the Clippers taking a 111-100 bulge into the final session. The Knicks defense tightened in the fourth quarter and they got within 121-115 with 5:10 left.
Reggie Bullock (25 minutes, 4 of 5, nine points) drilled a 3-pointer from the corner, bringing the Knicks within 121-118 with 4:50 to go and it was a battle from there.
The Clippers (26-12) were coming off a horrifying loss to Memphis on Saturday in which they allowed 140 points. Before the game, a reflective Clippers coach Doc Rivers said it’s been a tough slog developing chemistry but said “we have a collection of players that could turn us into a great team.’’
During the second-quarter flop, Knicks forwards got tagged for three technical fouls in the period — Bobby Portis, Morris and Julius Randle. Portis got flagged for trash-talking with noted agitator Patrick Beverley and Randle claimed he was T’d for joking around with Clippers assistant Sam Cassell — a scene the official misinterpreted.
The Knicks remain in town to face the powerhouse Lakers’ superstar tandem of LeBron James and Anthony Davis on Tuesday in what could be another Western shootout.