Clippers still seeking right roster combination as they fall to Timberwolves


Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley, right, drives against Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley drives in opposition to Clippers ahead Paul George throughout the first half Tuesday at Enviornment. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Related Press)

With their regular stream of accidents, the nights off for relaxation and their constantly inconsistent lineups, the Clippers’ final 5 months have been spent taking part in wait-and-see.

But 5 weeks earlier than the postseason begins, time is working out for coach Tyronn Lue to determine the gamers he’ll depend on throughout the playoff push and, as a consequence, for the Clippers to determine who they will likely be.

By this time subsequent week, the Clippers are anticipated to look completely different than they did in Tuesday’s 108-101 loss in opposition to Minnesota at Enviornment, a 3rd consecutive loss that leaves them 33-31 and in sixth place within the West, one spot from falling into the play-in match.

The defeat underscored the necessity for what Lue known as a self-imposed deadline to combine and match lineups two, and presumably three, extra video games earlier than deciding which gamers stay in his common rotation.

Selecting a rotation in March gained’t preclude him from modifications throughout April’s playoffs; Lue coaches by really feel, and Minnesota coach Chris Finch known as the Clippers’ potential to theoretically plug in an out-of-rotation veteran as a postseason adjustment a singular benefit. However simply as Lue feels he owes it to his gamers to exhaust the choices that work from people who don’t, it’s additionally his accountability to create continuity. The Clippers have been again to full well being Tuesday after heart Ivica Zubac returned from a two-game absence due to a strained leg.

Overlook their championship aspirations — staying out of the play-in hinges on Lue discovering the right mixtures.

“We positively do really feel that we’ve the deepest group,” backup guard Eric Gordon stated, “however … the chemistry has to be there.”

Although Paul George scored 25 factors and Kawhi Leonard added 23, the Clippers’ 24 turnovers undercut what had been a 12-point first-half lead, their early defensive depth disappearing within the final three quarters.

“We simply gotta maintain combating, maintain combating it and it’s on us if we wish to get higher or not,” Leonard stated. “And that’s the way you get higher in video games. You have got to need it and it’s not one or two folks, it’s gonna have to be the entire group and even the blokes that’s not taking part in.”

If Russell Westbrook, who has earned reward for his largely managed play throughout the guardrails the group specified for him, stays a starter, then the utilization of reserve guards Gordon, Norman Powell and Terance Mann figures to be one of many looming choices. How a lot Lue leans late on Marcus Morris Sr., a mainstay of his beginning lineup who has struggled in current video games and didn’t play 16 of Tuesday’s closing 17 minutes, is one other one.

Clippers guard Russell Westbrook brings the ball up against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Clippers guard Russell Westbrook brings the ball up in opposition to the Minnesota Timberwolves throughout the second half on Tuesday at Enviornment. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Related Press)

“It’s simply not younger guys, you bought veterans which have confirmed themselves all through their profession,” Gordon stated. “I believe now it looks like it’s simply we’d like to do issues the place we could be a higher group; perhaps it’s becoming in defensively, perhaps it’s sure pinpoints on not simply how good of a participant he’s — how can they actually slot in that may make us win video games?”

The roster’s wealth of expertise and know-how has made a few of the Clippers’ most persistent points all of the extra obvious.

The vitality ebbs and flows. The starters who fell behind by 18 within the first quarter in opposition to Denver charged out to a 12-point lead Tuesday in opposition to the Timberwolves. Then, nevertheless, that double-digit lead additionally evaporated as Minnesota constructed a lead that stretched to 13 within the fourth quarter.

The Clippers signed Westbrook partially to facilitate higher late-game offense, however his missed soar shot with 72 seconds left, whereas trailing by 5, was an instance of the group needing to higher perceive the place the ball ought to go in clutch conditions, Lue stated, and pointed blame at himself too.

The ball motion can also be both sharp or creates wounds which can be self-inflicted. Powell’s cross to a slicing Leonard for a dunk was his most spectacular help this season. But 63 mixed turnovers within the final three video games have put a struggling protection into much more troublesome conditions.

“I’m not one bit frightened,” stated Westbrook, who had 14 factors, 10 assists and 4 turnovers. “Now we have an unbelievably proficient group on this locker room and we all know what we’ve, we simply bought to be sure that we put it collectively and I actually really feel we gave three video games away to date. We’re going to get it collectively.”

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Occasions.

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