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Clippings: Jay Scrubb was a surprise addition to the rotation in New Orleans

The second-year two-way player wasn’t wholly impressive in his first chance at meaningful minutes.

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NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

On a night to forget for the Clippers, the team’s best highlight came with two minutes to play, as Jay Scrubb collected a loose ball offensive rebound and took it to the hole for a resounding slam.

The dunk didn’t mean much, though, as the Clippers were still down 22 when the ball went through the hoop. In fact, it probably wasn’t the most noteworthy part of the game for Scrubb. The second-year Clipper took the floor in the first half for the first time all season — and basically for the first time in his LA Clippers tenure, if you count the last two games of 2020-21 against Houston and OKC as extended garbage time, which I do (and I think Ty Lue did).

Scrubb was a part of the 10-man rotation with Amir Coffey on a minutes restriction, and that meant the two-way player checked in for the first time with 3:03 to play in the first quarter. That means it’s also the first time Scrubb played minutes worth evaluating.

Alas, it was a mixed bag for Scrubb. On offense, he didn’t really seem comfortable as anything but a play finisher. He looked great taking it coast-to-coast late in the game in transition, but somewhat lost in the half court. On his first play, Scrubb picked up a loose ball but didn’t have a tight enough handle to do anything with it and lost possession once multiple Pelicans converged on him. To start the second quarter, he ran a little two-man action with Serge Ibaka and tried to create a floater for himself on a drive, but it bounced wildly off the backboard.

Even when his teammates did set Scrubb for shot attempts, something was amok. He got a jumper off a handoff from Ibaka, but was a little late on getting the shot up after his curl, making it an unnecessarily long two instead of a three. Scrubb then tried to play off of Eric Bledsoe at the top of the key, but had to run multiple actions before the point guard finally fed him for a wing three, which also clanged off the rim.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans
Jay Scrubb was better on defense than offense in his first real rotation minutes of the season.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Defensively, Scrubb looked at ease in the zone. He made some smart rotations in help, and later fought through a screen on former Clipper Garrett Temple and made a good contest at the end of the clock. He also did well to stay with Jose Alvarado on a drive to the basket and force up an off-balance floater. Scrubb had some trouble with Nickeil Alexander-Walker, seemingly unsure whether to treat him as a driver or a shooter, but his overall defense was mostly fine.

“I thought (Jay) came in and did some good things and to have some real NBA minutes in a meaningful game, I thought he did a good job,” Ty Lue said postgame. “So wasn’t really fair because on his first game, a chance to get his feet wet, but I thought he took advantage of the opportunity.”

At this point, Scrubb is a mystery box. He has played so infrequently that it’s unclear what to expect from him, though he hasn’t exactly demanded more minutes with his performances. For one night, Scrubb was at least able to save some of the older Clippers from wearing their legs out. Next time out, the bar can be a little higher.

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