The massive man supplied the large affect the Clippers wanted.
Moses Brown’s 13 factors in 12 minutes — matching the mixed variety of minutes he’d performed all season to that time — “really won this game for us,” coach Tyronn Lue stated after Wednesday’s 109-101 win in Houston that moved the Clippers to .500.
And but the 7-foot-2 Brown isn’t essentially the long-term reply for what the coach known as “my biggest challenge.”
There are challenges, plural, as a result of it’s not solely “how we get the second unit to play better, and be better,” as Lue stated, but in addition how Clippers lineups and not using a middle can play higher, as nicely. The problems can overlap as a result of the Clippers typically have performed bench items and not using a middle.
Though Clippers lineups have confirmed to be hardly a juggernaut by a 4-4 begin, outscored about six factors per 100 possessions, lineups and not using a massive man have been worse — outscored 9 factors per 100 possessions, per Cleansing the Glass’ lineup information. And when Paul George, the highest offensive possibility with Kawhi Leonard unable to play, has sat, the Clippers have been outscored by 15 factors per 100 possessions.
“We can get better with our second unit, with our small lineup, and that’s on me,” Lue stated.
These usually are not the bench items or wing-dominated lineups the Clippers envisioned enjoying throughout coaching camp, when Leonard was wholesome. Plus, Robert Covington, often a small-ball middle with reserves — a job that will permit Nicolas Batum to play the 4, a extra comfy match than middle — has been absent the final two video games whereas within the league’s COVID well being and security protocols.
However even acknowledging that, Lue nonetheless expects higher from his smaller lineups.
“I don’t like it right now, but I got to do a better job with just letting those guys understand how we gotta play and what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to exploit teams,” he stated.
Lue didn’t elaborate, however some points haven’t required clarification. With out both beginning middle Ivica Zubac or Brown on the ground this season, opponents have grabbed offensive rebounds on greater than a 3rd of their misses.
The bench unit must have “its own identity … they got to be a little bit scrappy,” George stated, as a result of opponents have tried to ship additional rebounders to maintain level guard John Wall from bursting forward in transition.
When Zubac stated on Oct. 25 that “I hate small ball, I think every big hates it,” he was smiling, a mirrored image of his satisfaction of being on the courtroom. However the response additionally concerned manufacturing.
“Whatever works for us, I’m supporting it but I want to be out there, I want to help the guys with rebounding the ball,” Zubac stated whereas in Oklahoma Metropolis. “I know being small on the floor would hurt them on the boards and I want to be out there.”
Small ball wasn’t the complete perpetrator Wednesday as an 18-point lead dwindled to a few at halftime and Zubac was on the ground because the second-quarter cushion dwindled. When he earned 4 fouls earlier than halftime, it posed the query of whether or not Lue would trip out the lengthy stretch till Zubac’s subsequent look with smaller lineups or tapping the largely untested Brown.
Enter the former UCLA middle.
Since leaving Westwood, Brown has performed for 5 groups in 4 seasons and at his newest cease the middle signed a two-way contract to primarily function an in-case-of-emergency possibility ought to foul bother sideline Zubac.
Brown’s position, he stated, got here all the way down to being a superb teammate, and being able to play. When the staff is in Los Angeles, Brown typically returns to the apply facility for extra work with assistant Jay Larranaga on contact taking pictures, free throws — Brown’s taking pictures kind is unorthodox, and the staff has tried to refine it — and learn how to hold opposing guards from dribbling previous him on close-outs.
The second to place that apply into play got here Wednesday at halftime, when Lue relayed to Brown he would run solely three performs to maintain it easy. Lue regretted afterward calling a couple of further performs for which Brown wasn’t ready, however inside the slim position the Clippers needed from him, Brown “was really good for us.”
Lue all the time saved a middle on the ground throughout the third quarter to success, however Wednesday wasn’t an indication Brown will develop into a fixture of the rotation. The staff already has a troublesome sufficient time discovering minutes for Lue’s 11-deep rotation, the coach stated. And it additionally wasn’t a sign that the Clippers are going away from their center-less lineups.
They knew they have been taking a danger beginning the season with Zubac the lone conventional massive man of their rotation, and whether or not they follow that every one season or add one other massive man possibility is one thing that can be monitored and decided because the season progresses.
However for now, the Clippers nonetheless envision their wing-dominated, center-less lineups being a key a part of their postseason arsenal. Because the Clippers made clear Wednesday, a lot work stays to get to that time.
Up subsequent: at San Antonio
When: Friday, 5 p.m.
On the air: TV: Bally Sports activities SoCal; Radio: 570, 1220
Replace: The NBA fined the Clippers $25,000 after Moussa Diabate and Brandon Boston Jr. have been listed as unavailable for Sunday’s recreation in opposition to New Orleans, just for the pair to finally play. … The success of the Spurs (5-3) — anticipated to be aiming for the draft lottery — has been one of many season’s earliest surprises, however a dose of actuality hit Wednesday of their 143-100 loss in Toronto that marked the most important margin of defeat in coach Gregg Popovich’s 27-year tenure. Starter Devin Vassell and reserve Isaiah Roby missed that rout however reportedly took half in pregame exercises and may very well be accessible to face the Clippers.