Luke Kennard would find it ‘very cool’ to be in NBA All-Star three-point contest
The push to get Clippers three-point shooting ace Luke Kennard into the NBA All-Star three-point contest has begun.
When Clippers coach Tyronn Lue was asked Friday night whether he would like to see Kennard display his three-point shooting skills in the contest that will take place on Saturday night, Feb. 19, of All-Star weekend, Lue was succinct with his answer.
“Yes,” Lue said Friday night. “I think he would do great.”
There is validity in Lue’s reasoning.
Kennard is connecting on 43.9% of his three-point attempts, third-best in the league. He’s making 2.8 threes per game, 21st-best in the league.
“I think if he is able to do it, to win a three-point shooting contest would give him a lot more confidence coming back to the team,” Lue said. “We stay on Luke about turning down shots.”
It would be meaningful for Kennard in many ways.
The Clippers, who won Tuesday in a 35-point comeback at Washington and have made a habit of rallies, fought back again but lost 121-114 at Miami.
Most importantly, Kennard attended Frank High in Franklin, Ohio, which is near Dayton.
The All-Star game this year is in Cleveland.
“Yeah, that would be really cool,” Kennard said Friday night. “We’ll see, especially being back in Ohio. It would be a pretty cool thing to do, back home, friends and family, I know a lot would go. So, but we’ll see. It is what it is. Just focused on what we’ve got going on right now and just trying to get better with the guys.”
Kennard has been a revelation for the Clippers in the month of January, his shooting a big reason they are 3-3.
He’s making 43.2% of his three-point tries over those six games, 48.4% of his field goals. He’s averaging 16 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Lue even made a mild threat, in a joking sort of way, about Kennard and his unwillingness to shoot the ball frequently enough.
“His job is to shoot the basketball,” Lue said. “ If he’s turning down shots, it’s going to be tough for him to really be on the floor. So, we need him taking those shots.”
As Kennard has found more success, the left-hander has seen teams defend him differently lately.
For example, the Heat on Friday night were intent on running Kennard off the three-point arc.
Their two stars have missed most of the season and many of their roll players have also been out. Yet coach Tyronn Lue has kept the Clippers relevant.
“Teams have been a little more locked in and playing on my body a little more, so it’s been tougher,” Kennard said. “But we have good screeners on the team, and I’ve been a screener too to try to free up some space. It’s just something that we’re trying to build on and trying to learn from what we got, and so far it’s been pretty good.”
The Clippers have two games left on a season-long eight-game trip with stops in Charlotte on Sunday and Indianapolis on Monday.
They have won the three games by coming back from being down by double digits.
Each time, Kennard has been in the middle of those moments.
But the 25-year-old acknowledges that’s not a good recipe for long-term success.
“We just can’t, again, man, dig ourselves in a hole that early in the game,” Kennard said. “I mean, we always believe, but it’s tough getting down that much in games. It wears us down. It’s been a long trip. It’s been an exhausting trip. But we’re going to keep fighting and that’s what we did and hopefully these last two games we can start the game a little better and everybody just be locked in in the first halves.”
When: 10 a.m. PST, Sunday.
On the air: TV: Bally Sports SoCal; Radio: 570, 1220.
Update: The Hornets, with five players averaging in double figures, lead the NBA in scoring (115.0 points per game). They are ninth in field-goal percentage (46.5%), fourth in three-point shooting (37%) and third in assists (27.2). Miles Bridges leads them in scoring (20.3 points), followed by LaMelo Ball (19.4), who also leads the Hornets in assists (7.6).
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