An excited Steve Ballmer bounced down the hallway inside Staples Center on Saturday afternoon, his enthusiasm evident and his smile wide after seeing two of his newly acquired players perform during the Clippers’ 113-103 victory over the Chicago Bulls before 19,068 fans.
“Yes, sir,” Ballmer, the Clippers owner, bellowed, “We’ve got some guys that can play. We’ve got some guys that can play.”
The debut of forward Tobias Harris and guard Avery Bradley had to be deemed a success.
They joined the Clippers on Monday along with center Boban Marjanovic, who didn’t play Saturday, from Detroit in a deal that was highlighted by Blake Griffin going from the Clippers to the Pistons.
Harris, who started at small forward, was a force on offense, scoring 24 points on 10-for-19 shooting, including three of six from long range. He also had four rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot.
Coincidentally, Griffin had 24 points in his debut for the Pistons on Thursday against Memphis.
“I felt great,” Harris said. “I was obviously happy. I was excited just to get out there with my new teammates. It felt good to just go out and play. Obviously I’ll be a little bit more acclimated coming up.
“It’s been tough to sleep at night sometimes just with the time change. When I’m fully able to get my eight to 10 hours of [sleep], I’ll be even more prepared and better. But I felt good getting out there and just playing.”
Bradley had just eight points but was strong on defense, as advertised.
His primary assignment was defending Bulls guard Zach LaVine, who had 21 points but shot six of 18 from the field.
“I felt like it was good. I’m still getting my legs under me,” Bradley said. “But I feel like it was a good start for us. We’re still getting used to each other. But I feel like once we’re able to learn how to play off one another, the sky is the limit for this team.”
Bradley had been dealing with a groin injury in Detroit. He had missed seven games because of the injury and wasn’t allowed to play in back-to-back games.
“I’ve been playing games, but I’ve still been in and out,” Bradley said. “I got some shots (up) a few weeks ago. I’m just trying to get my legs back.”
Harris and Bradley were not alone in helping the Clippers defeat the Bulls.
Danilo Gallinari had 24 points, Lou Williams added 21, and DeAndre Jordan had 16 rebounds.
Having the new faces and more healthy bodies allowed the Clippers to run more than they have all season.
They were able to repeatedly get easy baskets and scored a season-high 33 points on the fast break.
That helped Harris and Bradley the most because the Clippers had only two practices (on Thursday and Friday) and a walk-through Saturday morning with their new players before the game.
“It made it easier for me just getting stops and getting out and running,” Harris said. “I thought we did a good job of getting out in transition sometimes and getting to the free-throw line and baskets.”