Out of necessity, the Clippers have used an NBA-high 35 starting lineup combinations during an injury-ravaged season.
And true to what has become the Clippers’ form, they started a different group Thursday night against the Utah Jazz.
It has not been easy for the Clippers to work this way, but it’s what they’ve had to deal with.
“It’s been tough,” coach Doc Rivers said. “Game to game, because of the injuries, because of the guys we have left, you don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘This is your lineup every night.’”
Rivers started rookie Sindarius Thornwell at forward over C.J. Williams, who started Tuesday night against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center.
Rivers also started guard Tyrone Wallace, who had spent time playing with Williams for the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, the Clippers’ NBA development league team.
“We have all the guys we have out so we’re kind of reduced to trying to match up to the other team instead of putting our best product on the floor and playing and making them match up,” Rivers said. “But it’s been OK. I don’t think it’s the greatest way of playing. I think it’s why at times we struggle out of the gate because we haven’t had the luxury of having one unit all year.”
The Clippers have had 11 players sit out a combined 247 games because of injuries.
That’s a major reason why the Clippers have had so many starting lineups.
“I think it’s a part of the game,” said DeAndre Jordan, who has made a team-high 74 starts. “It could be tricky at times. But we’ve got guys who are pros. So it’s not like we got guys that are coming and saying, ‘Oh, I go to score. I go to do this to be successful.’ It’s really like the next-man-up mentality this year. I feel like that’s worked well for us. Guys start for different reasons and different matchups and game plans. But I feel like as a team we handled it pretty well.”
Rivers has to give more instructions because of all the changes.
Jordan even finds himself giving orders on the court at times.
“Yeah, on offense and defense, but defensively more,” Jordan said. “Offensively, everybody has to pick their spots. Like you said, there have been a lot of different lineups so a lot of guys may not have played with so-and-so for very long and they don’t know where they should cut or where that person wants the ball. But I feel after a while everybody kind of figures it out through trial and error.”
Etc: Rookie guard Jawun Evans had a successful core muscle procedure Thursday. He won’t play again this season.