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#pounditSaturday, January 28, 2023

Articles tagged: Los Angeles Clippers

Reggie Jackson in tears after Clippers eliminated from playoffs

Reggie Jackson crying

Reggie Jackson may have priced his way out of Los Angeles with the way he played for the Clippers in the postseason, but the veteran point guard is certainly hoping to be back with the team next season.

Jackson was extremely emotional on Wednesday night after the Clippers were eliminated from the playoffs with their Game 6 loss to the Phoenix Suns. He had tears streaming down his face as he spoke with reporters about how much the 2020-21 season meant to him.

“The first thing I told those guys is, ‘Thank you for saving me,'” Jackson said. “I appreciate every guy in that locker room. … I’m not here today without this team. I’m not still playing today without this team. I thank them. This will forever be a special year.”

Jackson was bought out by the Detroit Pistons last year and signed with the Clippers. He is best friends with Paul George, and he spoke about George reaching out to him toward the end of his time in Detroit when things weren’t going well. The 31-year-old is now set to become a free agent this summer, and he said he will “forever be a Clipper” regardless of what happens.

The Clippers may not be able to afford Jackson. After averaging 10.7 points per game during the regular season, he averaged 17.9 in the playoffs. Jackson stepped up and played a huge role for L.A. after Kawhi Leonard went down with an injury. He certainly proved he can still be a valuable piece for a playoff contender.

Clippers’ Marcus Morris has funny quote about playoff basketball

The Los Angeles Clippers have played more games than any other team in the NBA playoffs, but they continued to fight by avoiding elimination with a win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday. Still, Marcus Morris says the schedule has taken its toll.

Morris was asked after Game 5 what it has been like to play 18 games in 38 days. He admitted it has been “tough.”

“The schedule, every other day, it’s tough — mentally, physically,” Morris said, per ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “You basically just eat, sleep and s— the game.”

It’s even tougher with Kawhi Leonard out, of course. Paul George put the Clippers on his back in Game 5. He finished with 41 points on 15-of-21 shooting in the 116-102 victory. He has led L.A. in points in every playoff game but one since Leonard suffered a knee injury.

You have to wonder how long that can last. George is suddenly living up to the nickname he once gave himself, but he may have to do that two more times in order to get the Clippers to the NBA Finals. As Morris reminded us, that is going to take a lot of stamina from the entire team.

Clippers players have great nickname for Ty Lue

Ty Lue

One of the biggest knocks against Doc Rivers is that he oftentimes fails to make the proper adjustments in a playoff series. The man the Los Angeles Clippers hired to replace Rivers does not have the same reputation, and his players have made that clear.

When Rivers was coaching the Clippers, the team blew two separate 3-1 series leads in the playoffs. Lue’s team has done the opposite in this year’s postseason. Down 2-0, L.A. defeated the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night to win their third consecutive Game 3 in these playoffs after losing the first two games of the series.

Because of Lue’s basketball IQ and ability to make adjustments in difficult situations, Clippers players have come up with a flattering nickname for their coach — they call him Bill Belichick.

“We crack jokes. We called T-Lue ‘Bill Belichick’ with all the adjustments he makes,” Patrick Beverley said after the Clippers lost to Phoenix in Game 2, via ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “He’s definitely going to find a way.”

Lue did, once again, find a way. The Clippers tightened up their defense in Game 3 against Phoenix, allowing just 93 points. With Kawhi Leonard out, Paul George led the way with 27 points in 43 minutes. He also had 15 rebounds and eight assists.

The three straight wins in Game 3 are an illustration of why the Clippers hired Lue. Richard Jefferson, who played for Lue alongside LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, said he always enjoyed watching Lue and LeBron go back-and-forth in practice and games. Those Cavs, of course, erased a 3-1 series deficit against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals to capture a title.

Lue called out LeBron during halftime of Game 7 in that series.

“That takes some f—ing balls,” Jefferson said of Lue calling out James. “And that takes some f—ing confidence. Not many motherf—er got that s—.

“Everyone talks about Bron’s IQ, and T-Lue can [always answer him]. T-Lue has his respect.”

It’s too early to say if Lue’s Clippers will come back and win another series, but the coach’s first postseason run as the head coach in L.A should be viewed as a success. The team has shown tremendous fight and continues to do so even with Leonard injured. Given the way Rivers’ season ended and how one of his former players roasted him, the Clippers have to feel good about their coaching change right about now.

Clippers fans, show everyone who runs Los Angeles with this great “We Run LA” shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here:

Here is how Kawhi Leonard is helping Clippers while out with knee injury

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard may not be able to help the Los Angeles Clippers on the court for the remainder of the postseason, but the two-time NBA Finals MVP is doing everything he can to have an impact.

Clippers head coach Ty Lue told reporters on Sunday that Leonard has been “very involved” with the team despite being sidelined with a knee injury. Lue said Leonard even helped L.A.’s coaching staff with adjustments during Game 6 against the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

The Clippers have yet to reveal the exact extent of Leonard’s knee injury, though it does not sound good. Kawhi remained home in L.A. to rehab rather than traveling with the Clippers to Phoenix for Game 1 against the Suns on Sunday. That could be an indication that the team is not yet ready to write him off for the rest of the playoffs.

Even without Leonard, the Clippers pulled off an impressive comeback in Game 6 against the Jazz. They will have a tougher time against the Suns, but a lot will depend on how Paul George plays.

Rudy Gobert explains how Clippers exploited him to win series

Rudy Gobert

The Los Angeles Clippers found a way to exploit Rudy Gobert defensively in the Western Conference semifinals, something few teams can say they’ve done. It left Gobert clearly frustrated on Saturday a day after Utah’s elimination.

Gobert spoke at the team’s end-of-season media availability on Saturday and admitted he was incredibly frustrated with how the season ended. He also laid out why the Clippers’ offense was so problematic for him and his teammates, and how their plan backfired on Friday.

The Clippers focused heavily on the perimeter with their lineups and strategy, knowing they would force Gobert to either stay home and be less of a factor or come out to try to close down shooters. It successfully exploited Utah’s defense, culminating in a Game 6 effort that saw the Clippers attempt 39 threes while converting 20 of them.

That’s essentially why the Clippers’ plan worked perfectly. Gobert was presented with a dilemma, and he decided to take the option that seemed less damaging. It made sense on paper, but Terance Mann went 15-of-21 in Game 6, taking full advantage of the fact that the Jazz were willing to dare him to shoot.

The Clippers clearly made it a point to stay away from Gobert after losing the first two games. As a result, it was a very quiet series for the Defensive Player of the Year on both ends, as the Clippers consistently made the strategy work perfectly. It’s no coincidence that they won four in a row after committing to it. Full credit should go to Ty Lue for making the adjustment.

Clippers slay playoff demons with impressive comeback win

Paul George

The Los Angeles Clippers on Friday reached their first ever conference finals. They did so by truly earning it through an impressive comeback.

The Clippers began their Western Conference semifinals series against the Utah Jazz down 2-0. They came back to Staples Center and won two in a row to tie the series. Then they won Game 5 in Utah despite not having Kawhi Leonard. And on Friday, they closed out the series with a 131-119 win in Game 6.

But it’s not just that they won Game 6, it’s how they did it.

The game was very close through the first 18 or so minutes of the game. Then Jordan Clarkson got hot and helped the Jazz go up by 22 at halftime. Utah was up by as many as 25 early in the third, but the Clippers were not deterred.

Reggie Jackson and Terance Mann started to make everything and turned it into a 3-point game by the end of the third quarter. By a few minutes into the fourth quarter, the Clippers had taken the lead. Paul George added some key buckets late and even Patrick Beverley contributed.

Mann finished with a career-high 39 points, George had 28, and Jackson had 27 in the Clippers’ historic win. Now they will face Phoenix in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday, with their first trip to the NBA Finals on the line in the series.

Kawhi Leonard feared to have ACL injury

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard will not play in Game 5 of the Los Angeles Clippers’ series against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night because of a knee injury. Unfortunately, it sounds like that knee injury could be very serious.

The Clippers fear Leonard has an ACL injury, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. The two-time NBA Finals MVP is out indefinitely.

That would obviously be the worst-case scenario for Leonard and the Clippers. The team’s chances of advancing to the next round — let alone reaching the Finals — will take a major hit without Leonard. Not only that, but Leonard could miss a significant portion of the 2021-22 season if he winds up needing ACL surgery.

Leonard landed awkwardly on a drive in the fourth quarter of Game 4 on Monday night and appeared to be in pain. He briefly remained in the game before exiting.

The injury likely happened on that play, as Leonard threw down an explosive dunk earlier in the game and seemed to be fine.

Leonard is one of the best postseason players in NBA history. The Clippers were hoping for a much better result this season after their early exit from the bubble last year. Their series against the Jazz is tied at 2-2, but they have little chance of contending without Leonard.

Kawhi Leonard out for Game 5, possibly longer due to knee injury

Kawhi Leonard

The Los Angeles Clippers have battled back to even their series against the Utah Jazz after losing the first two games, but Kawhi Leonard is going to miss Game 5 and potentially beyond.

Leonard will be sidelined for Wednesday night’s game due to a knee injury he suffered in Game 4, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne report. His status for the remainder of the series is also in doubt.

Leonard landed awkwardly on a drive in the fourth quarter of Game 4 on Monday night and appeared to be in pain. He informed his teammates on Tuesday night that they should prepare for him to miss Game 5.

The injury is obviously a huge concern for the Clippers. Leonard is their best player and always elevates his game in the playoffs. We were reminded of that with the monster dunk he threw down in Game 4 (video here). L.A. is suddenly in danger of suffering another disappointing postseason exit.

Clippers made interesting tactical adjustment to win Game 3

Ty Lue

The Los Angeles Clippers took down the Utah Jazz with ease 132-106 to win Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series on Saturday night. The victory marked the Clippers’ first of the series. They made an interesting tactical adjustment that seemed to help them in the win.

Ben Dowsett noted that the Clippers ran just 16 ball screens involving Rudy Gobert during the entire game. That is a very low number for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

Gobert is typically involved in many more ball screens. But the Clippers made a point to avoid going after the Jazz center. It worked.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard combined to take 48 of the team’s 89 field goals. Leonard made 14 of his 24 shots, while George made 12 of his 24. The team also was hot from 3-point range, going 19/36 (52.8 percent).

Game 4 of the series is on Monday, and things look completely different after how Game 3 went.

Ty Lue thinks Mavericks series will help Clippers during playoff run

Ty Lue

The general thinking is that NBA teams should try to wrap up playoff series as quickly as possible, avoid playing too many games, and keep players fresh for a deep playoff run. That’s part of what makes the Los Angeles Clippers being taken to seven games in the first round concerning, but coach Ty Lue prefers to look on the bright side.

The Clippers rallied from a 3-2 series deficit and eliminated the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday with a Game 7 win. After the game, Lue said he felt the experience left his team “battle-tested” and made them more prepared for the rest of the playoff run.

It might end up helping the Clippers to get this sort of wake-up call early on. On the other hand, Dallas pushed the Clippers to six games in last year’s first round series before the Clippers ultimately blew a 3-1 series lead to Denver in the conference semifinals. That said, the Clippers were never pushed to the brink by Dallas in 2020 like they were in 2021.

One thing is certain: the Clippers faced a lot of adversity very early on. Maybe it really will prove helpful as they prepare for a battle against the Utah Jazz, who are the top seed in the West.