Clippers rest Marcus Morris for exhibition with Lakers because of knee soreness
“We’re just being cautious,” Lue said during a pregame videoconference before the Clippers lost 87-81 to the Lakers at Staples Center in both teams’ first exhibition game of the season. “It’s the best thing we can do.”
Lue did not say when Morris would return. The Clippers play the Lakers again Sunday night at Staples Center and then host the Utah Jazz on Thursday night before opening the regular season against the Lakers on Dec. 22.
Morris, who re-signed with the Clippers on a four-year deal worth $64 million last month, averaged 10.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in 19 games last season with the team after he was acquired from the New York Knicks in February. He shot 42.5% from the field, including 31% from three-point range.
Three of the Clippers’ starters Friday night — Patrick Beverley, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard — started last season and resumed those roles against the Lakers.
‘It’s not a championship or bust year for us,’ the Clippers coach tells The Times. Others might see the coming season differently.
Nicolas Batum starting in place of Morris was expected. Batum, whom the Clippers acquired this month after he was waived by the Charlotte Hornets, has been looking sharp in camp.
The 7-foot Ibaka was in the starting lineup during practice sessions for the Clippers this week, one of the changes Lue already has made to a team he is reshaping.
Ibaka, who signed a two-year free-agent deal for $19 million with the Clippers, gives them a floor spacer with his ability to make three-pointers. He made 38.5% of his three-point tries last season with the Toronto Raptors.
Lakers’ Talen Horton-Tucker starts
At some point, NBA scouts were proclaiming this past summer in the NBA bubble near Orlando, Fla., Talen Horton-Tucker might find a role with the Lakers.
Now in his second season, Horton-Tucker has proved them right — at least he did Friday when Lakers coach Frank Vogel started him against the Clippers. Horton-Tucker finished with a game-high 19 points and added nine rebounds.
Vogel has been equally impressed by Horton-Tucker’s development since the 6-4 guard was selected in the second round of the NBA draft last year out of Iowa State. He played for the Lakers’ NBA development league team, the South Bay Lakers, and then showed improvement during the games he played for the Lakers in the bubble.
The Lakers and Clippers opened the NBA preseason to a fan-free atmosphere at Staples Center that illuminated stark contrasts cast by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can say that back then that his body looks different than it does today and his shot, his three-point shot, looks different than it does today,” Vogel, on a videoconference, said about how Horton-Tucker has evolved from last season. “Those are, I think, the two biggest things that he was able to change in his first year mostly in the G League, and I think there is a ton of confidence that has been brought with those two things.”
Vogel already had said LeBron James and Anthony Davis were not going to play against the Clippers on Friday.
But Vogel said Marc Gasol, Markieff Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would not play because his plan is “just trying to manage the preseason intelligently.”
Vogel started Dennis Schroder, Wes Matthews, Horton-Tucker, Kyle Kuzma and former Clipper Montrezl Harrell.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were on the court together as Clippers starters in the exhibition opener — a sight the team hopes to see often this season.
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