Tyronn Lue’s team rushed out to an early lead and kept their new-look opponents relatively quiet throughout the first quarter. Then their worst spell of the game came just either side of half time, not helped by a slow scoring night all round from Kawhi Leonard, but he eventually saw his shot start to fall heading into the fourth to help his teammates secure the win down the stretch.
Here are the takeaways…
Power forward problems
I just want to get one of my concerns about this team out of the way early here, because I am really liking what I am seeing generally since the trade deadline. I’ll be honest, though, that I’m concerned by Marcus Morris Sr. This isn’t to say that I think he can’t still contribute to the team, and the beauty of Mook’s play is that he could just go on a scoring run at any moment.
That is kind of what concerns me most, though. Right now, it feels like he’s being kept on the court for what he might be able to produce, with little tangible evidence that he actually will. Before Reggie Jackson was traded away, I’d have classified the two together as players that have contributed so much to this organization in the past few years, especially when the stars have sat.
However, the big difference is that they didn’t persist with Reggie, who arguably brought more intangibles to the team, while Robert Covington continually racking up DNPs only makes Morris’s starting role more questionable.
Anyway, that’s the negativity out of the way…
There goes that Mann
Good lord, I am so high on Terance Mann. I always have been so it doesn’t take much for me to get really excited by his play, but since his move to point guard he has been a huge contributor to this team. Some conspiracists may say he’s taken being included in a potential Kyrie Irving trade personally – I have, but only in a tongue in cheek way.
Because the real truth is that Mann is a consummate professional. The Clippers are really lucky to have him and there’s a good chance that he will be able to step up to the role of being a key vibes guy on the team like Reggie was, just as Pat Beverley was before him and so on.
Being a big presence in a locker room stocked with this much talent is no mean feat, but Terance is commanding respect on the court first and foremost, so his contributions will be valued across the board.
He has now all but solved a long-standing problem…
“We got everything we need”
The Russell Westbrook situation has become a really unwanted sideshow to what should be the time for the Clippers to really lock in. It would be really nice if the franchise were no longer in the race for his signature by the time they return to the court after the All-Star break, to be honest.
With that being said, it was good to hear George – Russ’s biggest advocate on the team – coming out and acknowledging that his squad is actually stacked with all the skills it needs. It’s unlikely that was him completely withdrawing his public desire to reunite with his former Thunder buddy, but it feels like it’s important that people within the franchise recognise that we do not need Westbrook.
Asked Paul George what LAC needs to do over the final 8 weeks to be playoff-ready. His first answer was to "accept the challenge." But he mentioned, notably -- to me, at least -- that "we got everything we need, we got playmaking, we got scorers, we got defensive stoppers..." pic.twitter.com/gRm2plELpB— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) February 17, 2023
By all means make a case that he’d be a nice player to have around, playing the kind of minutes that somebody on a veteran minimum should on this team. Just please don’t try and convince anybody that he’s the answer to all our problems.
He isn’t and we honestly don’t have all that many problems in the first place…