Two days after the Clippers performed what their coach, Tyronn Lue, described as their best basketball of an up-and-down season, gamers sat in folding chairs Monday morning inside their apply facility to rewatch what Lue had additionally deemed their “blueprint” for offensive success.
To drill dwelling the purpose, a whiteboard in entrance of the assembled chairs listed the season-high marks from Saturday’s blowout victory towards the Spurs: passes, ball reversals, help alternative price, efficient field-goal proportion.
The numbers — notably their 329 passes, as tracked by Second Spectrum, a stark distinction to their fourth-from-the-bottom season common of 262 — backed up with knowledge the litmus take a look at Lue has usually referenced as merely taking part in the “right way.” Monday provided a reminder of why there’s a premium on persevering with to take action.
A strained proper hamstring tendon sidelined Paul George for Monday night time’s 121-114 win over Utah at Crypto.com Area, the lack of the group’s main scorer for an undetermined about of time reducing the offense’s margin for error. It was a distinct analysis than the sore proper knee that originally knocked George out after solely 15 extremely efficient minutes Saturday, and one that can maintain him everyday, although Lue stated the All-Star averaging 23.6 factors felt high-quality.
The victory improved the Clippers to 11-7. George’s absence, coming so quickly after the Clippers had appeared virtually lastly entire following Kawhi Leonard’s return from a knee harm that value him 12 video games over three weeks, was a brand new variation on the theme of the previous two Clippers seasons, a span that has seen them hardly ever wholesome on the similar time. Moreover, there is no such thing as a readability on how quickly guard Luke Kennard can return from a calf pressure.
However whether or not wholesome or with holes of their rotation, Lue has wished a through-line to emerge of his group taking part in his definition of the appropriate means.
“Just make the simple play,” he stated earlier than tipoff. “The defense is gonna show you what they’re giving you and we gotta make those plays. And so we’ve been harping on it all year. It’s early on in the season, but we do have to get better with that.”
Monday night time was an illustration within the energy of doing simply that — and the pitfalls when not.
The primary half produced numbers worthy of the whiteboard whereas additionally passing Lue’s eye take a look at. They scored 10 unanswered, earlier than backup level guard John Wall heaved in a 41-foot three-pointer to shut the primary quarter earlier than celebrating by strumming an imaginary guitar. All 9 Clippers scored after assists on 17 of their 26 baskets. Wall, who got here off the bench to switch Leonard, stored himself and the ball shifting at a breakneck pace to match the group’s first-half excessive for the season with 17 fast-break factors — the sort of simple factors the Clippers should generate with George, one among their high shot creators, out.
One recreation after posting 15 assists, Wall sprinted previous the final line of Utah’s transition protection for layups, discovered Norman Powell for brief jumpers and Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum for spot-up three-pointers because the Clippers constructed a 17-point lead 9:50 earlier than halftime. As a substitute of the customary second-quarter lull, the Clippers fired again after their lead dwindled to eight, extending it to 13.
To open the third quarter, Marcus Morris Sr. stood atop the three-point arc and eyed Leonard minimize on their lonesome alongside the baseline towards the rim earlier than firing a go for a dunk and eight-point lead. Then it was as if a distinct group appeared when Leonard checked out. Wall turned the Clippers’ chief distributor, once more — this time, in passes to the Jazz.
He completed with eight turnovers and by no means performed within the fourth quarter. Field-outs had been non-existent en path to permitting Jazz ahead Lauri Markkanen six rebounds within the quarter — yet another than the Clippers collected as a group. When a ball went to the ground, no Clippers dived to corral it, and Utah’s hustle led to a bucket on the way in which to successful the quarter by 15 factors as they retook a lead that after seemed to grow to be a Clippers landslide.
However the lesson of creating the easy play was not one L.A. needed to be taught the onerous means. Within the fourth quarter, Reggie Jackson, who scored 27 factors — his third consecutive recreation with no less than 20 — attacked the paint off the dribble and located open shooters.
Powell scored 9 of his 30 factors off the bench within the closing quarter. And holding onto a 117-112 lead with one minute left, Amir Coffey stood in entrance of a barreling Talen Horton-Tucker and drew a crucial cost to protect a win constructed on the habits Lue has so badly wished to see.