Clippers’ Avery Bradley targets Monday for return from ankle injury
After missing a sixth consecutive game Saturday against Brooklyn, Clippers guard Avery Bradley is targeting Monday’s matchup in Atlanta as his return from a left ankle injury.
Bradley felt he possibly could have played Thursday against San Antonio and appeared comfortable cutting and running during an on-court workout before tipoff Saturday. By that point the decision had already been made to sit.
“At this point, selfishly, I do want to play but that’s what we have a medical staff for, to help me make logical decisions and I trust those guys,” Bradley said. “Unfortunately tonight I’m not able to play but I know it’s for a good reason. Again, I trust those guys and I know they’re going to put me in good positions to be successful on the court.
“… It’s not only what I think, it’s a collective decision and they feel like it’s probably better for me next game so that’s what I’m targeting right now.”
Forward Luc Mbah a Moute is not with the team on its three-game trip as he continues to rehabilitate his sore left knee in Los Angeles. Bradley and Mbah a Moute are the Clippers’ two best defenders in coach Doc Rivers’ estimation but Bradley said he was heartened by how the team has played in their absence and is hopeful his eventual return can add a boost. The Clippers entered Saturday riding a three-game winning streak.
“I still don’t feel like I’ve been able to get a consistent offensive flow here in this game and what I can bring to the team,” Bradley said. “I still think there’s an area of shot-making that I can contribute to this team.”
Marjanovic earns praise from the bench
Center Boban Marjanovic has handled his rapid transition from starter to unused reserve like “the greatest team player in the league,” Rivers said.
The 7-foot-3 center provided efficient bursts of playing time off the bench to start the season before being inserted into the starting lineup Nov. 2 in Orlando. He remained a starter for the next two games but, after Marcin Gortat returned to the starting lineup Nov. 10 against Milwaukee, played a combined 0.3 of a second in his next three games entering Saturday’s matchup with Brooklyn. Rivers has maintained that he will rotate his centers based on matchups and playing against rangy opponents with the ability to play near the three-point line is not a matchup the Clippers like for Marjanovic.
“He’s been great,” Rivers said. “Boban’s going to play again, it’s not like he’s in Siberia. He may play tomorrow, tonight, may play the next game. Boban is always available and so far he’s always been ready and we talked about that with our fives this year that don’t get used to any role because it’s probably going to change and it could change night to night.”
A homecoming for Harris
Saturday was a homecoming of sorts for forward Tobias Harris, who grew up on Long Island 38 miles east of Barclays Center.
Named the best high school basketball player in New York in 2010, Harris came into Saturday having scored 15 or more points in 14 consecutive games, tying him with Washington’s Bradley Beal, the Lakers’ LeBron James and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo for the longest such active streak. He extended the streak to 15 games with a transition layup in the third quarter.
“We needed Tobias to come back and do more things for us,” Rivers said. “Be a better rebounder — he’s done that. Where I’m the most happiest is he’s a great playmaker. He had five assists last game, he’s doing it every night. That’s something he hasn’t done before and he’s doing it.”
Danilo Gallinari scored eight first-quarter points Saturday, and a good offensive start by the forward had typically been a good omen for the Clippers. The team was 5-1 when he scored eight or more points in the first quarter entering Saturday. ... Gallinari, Harris and Lou Williams all scored in double figures Saturday, making them the only teammate trio in the NBA to score 10 or more points in each of their team’s games this season.
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