Clippers’ younger players to get more minutes on Wednesday in second preseason game
Tobias Harris was picking up a FedEx delivery outside his house Monday when he felt his right hand pricked by what he thought was a nail sticking out of the package.
He ran as soon as he realized it was a bee.
“I did not cry,” Harris said Tuesday before the team’s practice. “Maybe because I was with my girlfriend. She was saying I was being dramatic, but I didn’t cry.”
If the Clippers’ starting forward doesn’t play much in his team’s second preseason game, it won’t be because of any ill effects from the first bee sting of his life. Coach Doc Rivers was already planning to give younger players a larger share of playing time against Minnesota on Wednesday at Staples Center.
That will mean more time for rookies Jerome Robinson and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and second-year players Tyrone Wallace and Sindarius Thornwell, in particular. Rivers expects to rest Lou Williams and perhaps another veteran as well, while a hamstring injury is expected to keep Milos Teodosic out for a second consecutive game.
“A good test for some of our other guys to get a good run,” Rivers said.
The Clippers played Robinson and Wallace 1 minute 25 seconds apiece in the win over the Sydney Kings on Sunday in Hawaii, and Thornwell didn’t play at all. Jawun Evans got in for four seconds. Gilgeous-Alexander earned nearly 24 minutes in the first of the team’s five preseason matchups and played brilliantly during stretches in the first half but “had the cement boots on” after halftime, Rivers joked.
Gilgeous-Alexander said he was in “terrible shape. When I watched it I realized how slow I was moving up and down the court.. I’ll be ready for the next one.”
He and his young teammates will be given ample opportunities Wednesday in a shift from Sunday’s preseason opener, when the bulk of the opportunities went to veterans because several had yet to play together in an official game.
“I thought out of camp the vets just really needed to play,” Rivers said. “We don’t have the luxury like a lot of the other teams — they’ve been together. We were together but we didn’t play together. Last year they all were injured. When you think about it [Danilo Gallinari] played 21 games, Pat [Beverley] played very few games, Avery [Bradley] didn’t play a lot of games. I really thought that the team minutes for them was very important.”
That unfamiliarity among the starters led Rivers to be interested before Sunday’s game in whether the offense would bunch up or play with good spacing. He termed the spacing “pretty good” upon review. He wasn’t happy the Clippers missed numerous layups but was glad so many point-blank attempts were available.
“Still figuring out how we’re planning to play offensively,” Harris said. “That’s to get up and down the floor, that’s to run, get easy transition baskets, threes and layups.”
Rivers felt Gallinari, with 19 points and five assists, “may have been our best player that night” because he involved teammates with his passing and talking on defense. His court vision was not an outlier, as the Clippers assisted on 75.6% of their field goals.
The lone veteran to receive little playing time Sunday was Wesley Johnson, who is entering his ninth season.
“He’ll play some [Wednesday] but I’ll still play the other guys first,” Rivers said. “I know what Wes can do. I’m going to see what some of the other guys can do.”
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