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Las Vegas Summer League: Haphazard Clippers Fall to Heat, 91-84

The Clippers rotated their entire squad, going for exposure over success.

NBA: Summer League-Los Angeles Clipper at Los Angeles Lakers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Early on, Sam Cassell’s goal for the Clippers’ Summer Tournament game today against the Miami Heat was clear: get everyone on the roster exposure. Winning the game, and therefore advancing in the bracket and extending their stay in Las Vegas, was clearly not the top priority.

Players who would be on the Summer Clippers’ third string in a must-win rotation, such as Luke Nelson, Jameel Warney, Anthony Brown, Kyle Wiltjer, and Shevon Thompson, all had stints of playing time, and none were particularly impressive. The only player who did not play was point guard David Michineau, who suffered a strained hamstring Monday night.

The Clippers’ regulars were unimpressive as well. Brice Johnson posted a lazy 13 points, 6 rebound line that doesn’t reveal his lack of defensive effort. Kendall Marshall was incredibly inconsistent running the offense, finishing several plays with good shots, drives, and assists, but also totaling 5 turnovers and missing a layup in the closing minutes when the game was close. In 13 minutes off of the bench, Jawun Evans was 2-6 from the field with 3 assists, 3 turnovers, and 4 fouls. Sindarius Thornwell, who led the Clippers in minutes, was just 1-5 from the field and badly missed several open three-point attempts.

L.A.’s two most effective players in their roles were Isaiah Hicks and Jamil Wilson, but due to Cassell’s socialistic substitution patterns, they were limited to 15 and 13 minutes, respectively. Hicks posted 8 points and 3 rebounds and the Clippers were +14 during his minutes, but he did not appear in the second half. Wilson sat almost the entire game before playing at the end of the third and the entire fourth quarter, where he added 11 points on 4-5 shooting.

The real story of the game, however, was Miami’s unheralded prospects bursting through the door that the Clippers’ lackluster performance left open. Okaro White, who played 35 games for the Heat last season as a backup, dominated play, posting 23 points and 8 rebounds while hitting four threes. Undrafted 5’8” jitterbug guard Justin Robinson added 22 points and 6 assists, hitting four threes and constantly pestering the Clippers’ defense in the second half. Gian Clavell, another undrafted guard, added 20 points of his own on just 9 attempted shots.

Following this loss, the Clippers are eliminated from the Summer League tournament. They will play a single consolation game tomorrow before being done until training camp.