Basketball is back, and in a vacuum, it feels pretty good.
The L.A. Clippers broke the duck in Orlando, playing a televised scrimmage against the Orlando Magic Wednesday, and winning 99-90. Lou Williams was the top scorer, with 22 points, and Paul George also had a good game on the day.
One of the big questions after the game was how the team responded to the new surroundings, specifically an empty space with graphics and other bells and whistles present in lieu of fans.
“Once you’re inside the lines, once the game started and I was watching the guys play for the first six minutes, I thought it was cool when somebody scored, they had their own graphic on the screen,” Williams told reporters after the game. “I heard the defensive chants. But when I actually was on the floor, I didn’t hear it. I didn’t see it. I didn’t feel it. I was locked into the game.”
Williams admitted a central conundrum with the noise and flashing lights: “I don’t know who that experience is for because there’s no fans in the arena.”
Meanwhile, head coach Doc Rivers said the new set-up may be better for him.
“The play calling is easy. I called several plays — most of the plays without getting up. That was kind of nice, actually. I even had a conversation with Zach and James, the officials, sitting down. So maybe I’ll have a better voice by the end of this, who knows,” he quipped.
More news for Thursday:
- Get your scrimmage recap: In case you forgot or missed it, here’s Sabreena’s recap from the scrimmage.
- There’s a new bench configuration: My bold prediction after one day of games is that players will want a larger bench area moving forward. Think about it: It’s gotta be uncomfortable to be among the tallest people in the world and have to cram yourselves onto a tiny strip of chairs. Yes, that wipes out a few premium rows for fans, but then teams can charge even more for the rare seats.
New look at the socially distanced benches in the NBA bubble. pic.twitter.com/bpV0ix7cP2— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) July 23, 2020
- George highlights Breonna Taylor, BLM: Paul George said his shoulders “felt great” and then used the remainder of his time with the media to discuss Breonna Taylor, killed by Louisville police, and other aspects of Black Lives Matter: “I think that’s what we’re here for, to continue to keep that in the back of people’s minds, and — murderers are still free. Nothing was done yet and we’re going to continue to keep this fight going and use our platform to stand up for those that can’t stand anymore,” he told reporters.
- Bol Bol plays first game for Nuggets: The son of Manute Bol and a draft pick this season, Bol played his first game for Denver Wednesday, posting a double-double in a win over the Washington Wizards. The Clippers will play the Nuggets Aug. 12.
- 20 random predictions: Zach Harper has some entertaining reading in The Athletic, on his random predictions for the restart, which include a couple Clippers-related punts.