Luke Kennard and Isaiah Hartenstein have been talking since the start of training camp about they are comfortable playing together, and on Friday, that finally started to show on the court. The pair combined for 35 points, leading the Clippers in scoring, though the team eventually lost 122-114.
The Clippers tipped things off with their projected starting backcourt of Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson, and Paul George, joined by Justise Winslow and Harry Giles. And just as no one expected, the Duke frontcourt duo combined to score the team’s first 11 points. The problem was that Dallas had 24 points in the same stretch, including 15 from Luka Dončić and Kristaps Porzingis.
Great take and find by Winslow, and a good finish by Giles. pic.twitter.com/VIENcNy9bE— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) October 9, 2021
Things started to shift with the second unit, aided in part by the fact that the Mavericks didn’t have a backup point guard available. But Kennard, Terance Mann, Amir Coffey, and Isaiah Hartenstein came to play. Coffey got things started with six points in the opening quarter, then Kennard picked up the slack in the second.
Kennard had been struggling with this shot in the first two preseason games, going 8-of-9 from three. He responded by making his first five threes against Dallas, the first one off an assist from none other than Hartenstein.
The third center battle is theoretically still alive, but all signs are pointing towards Hartenstein. He got more minutes with the rotation players in the first two games and had outproduced Giles. Even though Giles was with the first five, Hartenstein’s trend of outplaying Giles continued.
Hartenstein was the second-leading scorer with 16 points. More importantly, he’s become an important facilitator in the half court, tying for the team lead with five assists alongside George. He also had two impressive jams; anything that brings energy in the second unit is a useful trait.
Give Isaiah Hartenstein the third center spot RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/j4btEuzQY9— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) October 9, 2021
The game got away from the Clippers in the fourth when they brought in their Agua Caliente unit, but it was another fine passing display from the regular rotation players. The defense still needs some work; hopefully having the team’s two centers back will help in that regard.