The Clippers’ surprising start to the season hasn’t gone unrewarded.
Doc Rivers on Monday was named the NBA’s coach of the month in the Western Conference, covering October and November, and forward Tobias Harris was named player of the month in the conference.
Harris led the NBA in effective field-goal percentage (59.4%) among players who attempted at least 300 shots and averaged 21.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. He made 44% of his three-point shots.
Rivers demurred when asked about his honor but called Harris’ award significant considering the depth of talent in the conference.
“When you win that award in the West, with all the players that are in the West, you’re doing something,” he said. “[The New Orleans Pelicans] have one down the street [Anthony Davis] who’s pretty special.
“That’s really cool for him and just good for him to get noticed. He’s so understated, he doesn’t talk a lot, doesn’t say a lot of stuff, no one actually knows he’s there and then they read the stats after the game and say, ‘He had what?’ That’s a Tobias game.”
Harris’ 58.1% shooting on pull-up shot attempts ranks second-best among players averaging at least three such attempts a game, according to Second Spectrum. His 42.9% three-point shooting, which includes Sunday’s loss at Dallas, is the highest of his eight-year career and is a marked improvement from how he entered the league as a predominantly post-up player shooting 26.1% from behind the three-point arc.
“He’s always been a real solid player,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said, “but he’s in a situation now where he’s pretty much the featured guy and he’s raised the level of his play tremendously. He’s become a much better shooter. ... The style of play they have allows him to get the ball to the basket and he gets a lot of touches. I think he’s taking advantage of it.”
The Clippers led the West in winning percentage through the season’s first six weeks with a 15-6 record, matching the fourth-best start through 21 games in franchise history. It marked the 11th coach of the month honor in Rivers’ 20-year coaching career.
“I know how he can motivate players, I know how he can rally a team around, ‘It’s us against everybody else,’” said Gentry, a Clippers assistant under Rivers during the 2013-14 season. “He’s been great at that and his teams are always going to play with a ton of intensity and he’s done a great job. They’re the No. 1 team in the West. Nothing else needs to be said, really.”
Rivers had 861 career victories entering Monday, three behind Jack Ramsay for 13th on the all-time list. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle praised Rivers as a “great ambassador” for basketball Sunday in Dallas.
“When you hear that from a coaching standpoint, you like that a lot,” Rivers said.
Following his ejection Sunday, Clippers guard Patrick Beverley was available to play Monday and was not reprimanded by the NBA for his exchange with a Mavericks fan sitting at courtside.
Beverley said that the fan cursed him and made derogatory remarks about his mother, and that he informed referees and Mavericks security officials about the exchange. When the fan allegedly repeated the remarks following a fourth-quarter jump ball, Beverley forcefully bounced a pass into the fan, Don Knobler. It resulted in the first ejection of Beverley’s seven-year career.
Fans are warned in every NBA arena about inappropriate conduct. Knobler remained for the rest of the game. The Mavericks spoke with him about his exchange with Beverley, a Dallas spokeswoman said. She did not respond when asked if he would be reprimanded.
Speaking before tipoff, Rivers said he didn’t feel the need to talk with Beverley about staying cool amid potential provocation from New Orleans fans.