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Clippings: Ty Lue doesn’t want his team to only be front-runners

Plus, more news for your Thursday.

NBA: Preseason-Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

An opening night postgame reaction in the LA Times by Andrew Greif on Thursday on the cultural change new LA Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue is trying to implement had a quote that is ringing around in my head:

“We don’t want to be a front-running team; when things are going great, we’re cheering for one another,” Lue said. “When things are going bad, we’re going to do the same.”

Lue is trying to address both a need for his team to focus for full games, and for them to not get down when the game is not going their way.

It’s notable because it’s obvious: Title-winning teams may have different kinds of energy, but they need to be able to collectively focus and they have to be up for each other all the time.

We saw one of the big issues with the Clippers and their much-discussed lack of chemistry last season was that they often appeared to be islands unto themselves, a couple guys chatting over here, two more teammates bickering over there. The process may not be perfect but it’s necessary.

Not to get all high school sports on you but I’ve been through a situation like this before. My team at the start of my senior year had the wrong energy, everyone was kind of doing their own thing. Then we had a team meeting, the players aired out grievances, and the coach told us we needed to focus on each other and importantly, cheer each other on throughout. And we ended up having a very good season from there.

The stakes were much lower in my case, yes, but I’ve been through this before, and Lue’s attempt to get the players locked in and to actually lift each other up (maybe cut down on taunting opponents from the sidelines too, PatBev) is a necessary component to actually making a winner. We’ll see how it develops.

More news for your Thursday:

  • Lou Williams’ crossroads: This column from the Unstatable substack on Williams’ place on the Clippers right now is really thought-provoking. Is the best yet to come or is he going through the motions with the ground torn up underneath him?
  • Better ball movement: Sabreena with a reaction and analysis of one of the elements of the Clippers’ opening night win over the Lakers, focusing on the team moving the ball better.
  • Kennard deal gets thumbs up: John Hollinger graded a bunch of recent contract extensions for The Athletic and gave the Clippers’ extension for guard Luke Kennard a good grade, with a couple reservations.
  • First game postponed: The Houston Rockets had fewer than eight players available for their game Wednesday, so that one against the Oklahoma City Thunder has been postponed. Probably little surprise this was going to happen this season, but here’s some background on just what the NBA is planning for in what may be another wildly unpredictable season, from the LA Times.
  • More Harden trouble: Related to the Houston postponement is Rockets star James Harden had to go through repeated coronavirus testing and quarantine again after going out in public for an event. He’s been fined $50,000 for breaching protocol and would have lost a game check had Houston played Wednesday. So more trouble in H-Town these days.
  • Happy holidays to everyone. Please be safe and do your very best to stay healthy.

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