Coach Tyronn Lue on Clippers: ‘Sky is not falling’
The Clippers have lost three consecutive games, are 2-3 in the uber-competitive Western Conference and haven’t had star forward Kawhi Leonard for the last two games because of knee issues that leave his playing status uncertain.
Yet Clippers coach Tyronn Lue wanted to make one thing clear despite their early season struggles.
“Sky is not falling, or nothing like that,” Lue said.
Indeed, the Clippers have 77 games left to play in the regular season to right the ship, starting with Sunday afternoon’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Crypto.com Arena.
As far as Leonard, who missed the last two games at Oklahoma City because of tightness in his right knee, the Clippers have listed him as out for the game because of injury management. Forward Robert Covington entered healthy and safety protocols.
Lue spoke to the media before practice started, saying that they wanted Leonard, who watched the game in Oklahoma City on Tuesday before he returned to Los Angeles on Wednesday to “just continue to do his rehab.”
Norman Powell led the Clippers with 21 points, Reggie Jackson scored 18 and John Wall added 17 in the team’s 118-110 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“We don’t know if he is playing or not tomorrow yet either,” Lue said. “But I don’t think so [for practice] today.”
The good news for the Clippers came when Lue said “yes” when asked if forward Marcus Morris Sr. would be available for Sunday’s game. Morris, who missed the last two games because of a death in his family, was at practice.
He’s third on the team in scoring, averaging 15 points per game on 63.3% shooting, 44.4% on threes. The Clippers could use his offense, considering they are ranked 29th in the NBA in scoring (102.6 points per game).
The slow start for a Clippers team with championship aspirations made the reporters ask Lue what the message has been to his team.
“My message is just play the right way, create good habits,” Lue said. “You are not going to win every game, but we got to play better and we understand that. But my biggest thing is just creating good habits. If we do it on both sides of the basketball, we will be fine.
“Defensively, shrink when we are supposed to shrink. Box out when you are supposed to box out. Help when you are supposed to help. Offensively, take your open shots. If you don’t have it, get into the paint and make the right play. I thought we did that last game. I know it’s early in the season, but we just want to create good habits. I know we will be able to win games, but our habits are the most important thing right now.”
The Clippers are trying to deal with a balancing act — trying to be patient while showing a sense of urgency with so many games still left to play.
It’s not unusual for Clippers guard Norman Powell to start a season slowly, but the team is hopeful he can turn it around quickly with Kawhi Leonard sidelined.
“I think it’s a little bit of both. Yeah, it’s both,” Luke Kennard said. “Obviously, we want to win and every game is important for us. We want to be a high seed in the West at the end of the regular season.
“So, I think if we have that sense of urgency right now, taking it one game at a time, it’s going to help us with that. But at the same time, like I said, with guys kind of being in and out, you still have to be patient and just trust in what we’re doing and what we’re kind of building here. So, yeah, just taking it one day at a time. So, being patient, but also having that sense of urgency every time we step on the floor.”
VS. NEW ORLEANS
When: Noon, Sunday
On the air: TV: Bally Sports SoCal; Radio: 570.
Update: Offensively, the Clippers are struggling. They are ranked 26th in three-point shooting (32.4%), 29th in assists (20.0) and 30th in turnovers (17.2). Defensively, the Clippers have been pretty solid. They are giving up 108.8 points per game, the sixth-best mark in the league, and are holding teams to 43% shooting, the third-best mark.
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