After an excruciating offensive performance in the preseason opener, the lids finally came off the basket for the Clippers in their second game against the Lakers. It didn’t seem that way at first, as the Clippers only had three points through the first three minutes, but the floodgates opened shortly thereafter en route to a 63-point first half.
Unfortunately, the result of the game was still the same as the first, with the Clippers disinterested and lacking togetherness on the defensive end to balance out their improved offensive performance. They ended up losing 131-106.
The Clippers started Nic Batum in place of the injured Marcus Morris Sr., but really seemed to unlock their best selves when Luke Kennard took Patrick Beverley’s place at point guard. The Clippers love Beverley’s energy and aggressiveness at the point of attack, but it’s possible the starting lineup — which already has excellent defenders at three other positions — could benefit from a little more passing instead of another defensive presence. With Kennard in the game, the ball was popping, and the Clippers actually pursued secondary actions, something that Ty Lue has been preaching during training camp.
Perhaps no possession exemplified the commitment to ball movement as this one in the first quarter than ended in a Serge Ibaka basket.
Perfect good to great passing here from the Clippers ending up with a PG to Ibaka pass for an easy bucket. pic.twitter.com/8OUhkCp0rp— Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) December 14, 2020
Ibaka maintained his place in the starting lineup, and Ivica Zubac continues to play hard off the bench despite the demotion. Something that works to Zubac’s advantage in the second unit is that several teams play small without their starters on the floor, and Zubac can bully other bigs in the post — like he did with Montrezl Harrell. He also has a delightful chemistry with Lou Williams.
Kawhi Leonard also looked closer to game speed compared to his debut Friday, as did Batum. Williams was a firecracker in his limited minutes, and the Clippers stayed healthy for one more night. They clearly don’t care enough about the preseason to try to win games, so it’s just about putting in their offensive system and getting some reps before the start of the regular season. Mission accomplished.