Tyronn Lue has struck gold with the Los Angeles Clippers. There are few team-coach combinations in the NBA that have quite the same fit. That is, in part, because he has been able to handpick players that know what is being asked of them, but it isn’t always that simple to get guys to buy in, especially with the amount of talent he has at his disposal.
Lue is used to being told his job is easy though, given the Championship ring he won as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers is all but credited to the generational talents of LeBron James. Of course, it was nothing to do with him getting the league’s biggest star and the supporting cast to buy into a common culture. Well, now his flowers are long overdue.
Because with all four of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall and Luke Kennard out of Tuesday night’s matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers, and the team down by 18 in the third quarter, it was that same buy-in that came in clutch to secure another big comeback in a 118-112 Clippers victory. You can point out individual performances, and Lue took the time to do so after the win, but really the praise should go to the whole team, including the coaching staff.
Here's what Ty Lue said about Jason Preston, Moussa Diabate, riding the hot hand -- even if it kept Zubac on the bench -- and what he liked from the comeback. pic.twitter.com/iCkwFueAD9— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) November 30, 2022
The Clippers under Lue could be defined as a nearly-but-not-quite team because of the way preseason expectations are eroded away by injuries. However, anybody who watches this squad night after night will know the special spirit that they possess and would never count them out. The players see themselves being counted out by the outside world, and it only spurs them on more.
Ty took a look around at his guys in Portland, both on the court and the bench, and emphatically said, “That’s the kind of atmosphere we want to create”.
You’ve got Ivica Zubac who has just achieved NBA history sitting for the whole fourth quarter, while a rookie who was playing in the G-League on Monday takes his place, yet Zu and his benchmates are still on their feet providing encouragement throughout.
Far too often throughout the league’s history, locker room tensions have spilled over and egos have got in the way of success. To this day, JJ Redick has former Clippers teammates on his podcast talking about things just not being right among the players. The stories that came out after The Bubble were further evidence of how hard it can be to integrate stars among a group of straight talkers. That’s what Lue came into and he has turned it around completely.
He has stated in the past that the secret to a happy dressing room is the coaching staff being on the same level as the players, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into the win column. The win in Portland can now be filed alongside a healthy number of short-handed, comeback wins throughout Ty’s tenure that shows he’s a coach who can truly do both.