In the final ticks of the clock before the first half ended Tuesday night in Staples Center, Clippers starting center Ivica Zubac found himself with the basketball, a clear path to the basket and a chance not many big men get — to make a buzzer beater.
But what should’ve been an easy layup or dunk turned into another example of a problem the team’s young center has been having. He rushed the shot and missed what should’ve been as easy of a basket as he has scored all season.
“I’m rushing,” Zubac said after the Clippers’ 125-104 loss to Portland. “I’m rushing my shots. I’m trying to do something really quick. I just have to slow down. It’s going to come with time.”
Zubac missed 11 of 15 shots Tuesday, his worst shooting game since the Clippers acquired him from the Lakers at the NBA’s trade deadline.
In the 13 games Zubac has played for the Clippers, all starts, he has shot the ball fairly well despite dealing with injuries to his hands.
“They’re getting better,” Zubac said. “They’re not 100% yet. It still hurts. I still can’t bend the middle fingers on both of my hands. … It’s going to maybe take a few more weeks.”
Zubac said he doesn’t think either injury — minor ligament damage on one and a small fracture on the other — would require any offseason procedures.
Before Tuesday’s clunker, Zubac had been shooting 52.3% from the field. And on the whole, he has been productive, averaging 9.4 points and 7.8 rebounds and 20 minutes per game since being dealt for Mike Muscala.
“It’s been a big adjustment, especially this late in the season. It’s a team of new guys that I’ve never played with. You have to learn the new offense. You’ve got to learn how your teammates are playing, where they like to go and what they like to do. … It’s a big adjustment. But I feel comfortable now.”
Wilson Chandler gets his legs back
You know Rivers was happy to see forward Wilson Chandler make two long-range jump shots Tuesday. Since the Clippers added the 12-year veteran in the deal that sent Tobias Harris to Philadelphia, Rivers has talked up Chandler’s ability to shoot.
Chandler, who made his Clippers debut in garbage time Monday against Boston, played 19 minutes Tuesday, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds off the bench in his first rotation minutes since then end of January.
“It felt good. I just have to get my wind back, my rhythm back, but it felt good to be out there,” Chandler said. “This is an easy team to play for. Guys like playing for each other, sharing the ball. And Doc’s a great coach. It’s easy from that standpoint.”