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Terance Mann looks for more growth in role with Clippers

Clippers guard Terance Mann is embraced by teammate Paul George.
Clippers guard Terance Mann is embraced by teammate Paul George after scoring and drawing a foul during Game 6 of their playoff series against Utah.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Even now, after Terance Mann painted his masterpiece in the playoffs for the Clippers and was honored in his hometown, he remains humbled and continues to have a thirst for more.

In just his second season in the NBA, Mann found a measure of success in the postseason that was inspiring and worthy enough for his hometown of Lowell, Mass., to show some appreciation in August for the man and player he has become.

“I ended up getting the key to my city, which was really cool, so that was a great experience for me, yeah,” Mann said Thursday before the Clippers’ fourth day of training camp and third on the campus of San Diego State. “My friends were excited. They are excited for my future. My core friends have been with me since high school. They watched the process of me getting to where I’m at and they are along the whole way. So, it’s cool for them too and I’m happy for them to be a part of it.”

The breakout performance Mann had in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz made people take notice of the 6-foot-5 guard.

The Clippers were down 25 points at home in the close-out game at Staples Center, trying to avoid a Game 7 in Salt Lake City.

Mann stepped into a void that included the loss of All-Star foward Kawhi Leonard to injury, exploding for 25 of his career-high 39 points in the second half, his fingerprints all over the Clippers advancing to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

Clippers executives hope the mix of new and veteran players will allow the team to extend its championship window several years.

Perhaps, Mann was asked, he has proven to be an established player after his sterling play in the playoffs.

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“Um, I mean, I guess, in a way,” Mann said. “But I’m still trying to prove myself. I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I still want to prove a lot of people wrong.”

He averaged 7.6 points in 19 playoff games, including six starts, and shot 51.9% from the field, 43.2% from three-point range.

The 39-point game is what set Mann apart, even if he hasn’t watched a replay it.

“I didn’t really have time to process it,” Mann said. “I see highlights that I get tagged in and stuff like that, but I’m kind of over that.”

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue sees an increased role for Mann this season and not just because Leonard will be out for an extended time recovering from surgery to repair a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. The coach says his budding star “is ready to take that step, I think.”

“Just watching him play the last few weeks, the maturity that he brings to the table, the hard work that he brings to the table, how he has improved his shot,” Lue said. “So, he’s been putting the work in, and it’s paid off. So, we’ve just got to let him continue keep developing.”

Clippers video assistant Assane Drame died in a car accident on Monday in Los Angeles, according to the team.

Mann is a versatile player for the Clippers, able to defend point guards, shooting guards and forwards.

The ceiling appears high for the 24-year-old Mann

“I don’t know what the next step is, to be honest,” Lue said. “But, when he’s on the floor, he makes things happen and we understand that. The biggest thing for me, I think defensively, is just continue getting better, if I had to pick one thing. Being able to guard the point guards and then also being able to guard the bigger players if he has to switch on to a four, be able to guard those guys as well.”

Mann says he’s worked on every “aspect of my game” to be better than last season.

“Yeah, definitely more confident because of the success I had,” Mann said. “Definitely more confident and my teammates trust me more, I can tell. They are encouraging me to do more and that’s what I’m going to do.”


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