Tyronn Lue went with a halftime-shift switch approach to the rotation tonight as the LA Clippers coasted to a 113-98 loss to the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night. In the first half, LAC mostly went with a tight, 8-man rotation of the starters and Terance Mann, Luke Kennard and Isaiah Hartenstein off the bench. After being square at the break at 51, however, the Kings’ main rotation guys blew this one wide open as the rest of the available Clipper young guns got loose. Overall, everyone finished the game healthy and a lot of work-in-progress stuff the team had been talking about throughout media day, training camp and pre-game was shown tonight, so it was a job well done. Read on for our full Clippers vs. Kings preseason game recap.
Clippers vs. Kings Game Notes
- More Run for Starters: Clipper Nation got their first looks at Paul George and Nicolas Batum in action tonight, and I’m happy to report they are still very good at basketball. PG started off pretty cold, but was getting to his spots and taking good looks. With each shot going up, you could see a bit George’s rhythm coming back to him. With 4-of-10 shooting from the field (1-5 3PT) in about 14 first half minutes, it was good to see George letting it fly out there. Batum picked up right where he left off in Tokyo, talking on defense and being in the right spots as a selfless, Swiss Army knife on the court.
- Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself: After a solid second career Clipper debut on Monday, Eric Bledsoe looked more comfortable in his minutes tonight. With the jumper-heavy rhythm that develops in the free-flowing offense naturally with PG13 and Reggie Jackson out there, you could definitely see the argument for Bledsoe being a nice supplementary piece to the starting unit. Showing off the burst and some signature strength, while also fitting right in with the extra pass mentality, it’s been a good look for EB12 so far.
- Center Battle Continues: Isaiah Hartenstein did himself plenty of more favors tonight, showing some consistency with what he brings to the table — finding guys for great looks and cleaning the glass. Checking in routinely with Luke Kennard and the main rotation guys throughout the first half, with Harry Giles remaining on the pine, it’s certainly looking like the spot is Hartenstein’s to lose. It’s quite unfortunate because, as many of the Clipper writers have been saying in the past weeks, Giles does a lot of the same things Hartenstein does. Looking to set up guys and taking care of the dirty work, Giles played the right way tonight and more than enough held his own against Tristan Thompson and Richaun Holmes.
- Boyz II Menn: It was another successful stint from Terance Mann and Luke Kennard, who continue to show strides in their development. Mann got started in a similar way as he did on Monday, with an up-and-under finish at the rim. And just as he displayed against the Nuggets, Mann showed more signs of the game slowing down for him. Nailing an iso turnaround middy on an Alex Len mismatch, drawing a late-clock shooting foul on Marvin Bagley III, and getting the Trae Young-stop-in-traffic call on Davion Mitchell, Mann finished off his impressive night with a terrific baseline kick out for a wide-open Kennard left wing three. Speaking of Cool Hand Luke, he finished on nine points on 4-12 shooting. While the box score looks a bit rough, they were all pretty much generated within the offense with guys prioritizing getting him the ball. Good stuff.
- Keon Johnson’s Debut: Oddly enough, it appears the “non-COVID illness” bug has spread to Justise Winslow, who was a late scratch tonight while Keon Johnson made his NBA preseason debut. On two points (0-5 FG), four rebounds and two steals in 16:37 minutes of action, Johnson was feeling it out for the most part, playing mostly off the ball on both ends. On offense, the jumper looked shaky, and Terance Davis and Buddy Heild held no remorse on the other end.
- The Brandon Boston Experience: It’s getting really hard not to get excited about Brandon Boston Jr. The 19-year-old was up at 6 a.m. for a Chris Johnson workout (as usual) and nailed a 26-footer at around 9 p.m. to get the second half going. Boston Jr. was elated after his first NBA showing on Monday, and played with a lot of that same joy again tonight. Drawing a foul on De’Aaron Fox on an iso, snagging Patrick Beverley-esque offensive boards, and maneuvering through Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell before trying to bring the house down with a Tristan Thompson poster, Boston continued on firing with a personal 7-0 run towards the final buzzer.
- Up Next: The Clippers will continue their four-game preseason stretch on the road against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on Friday, Oct. 8, at 5:30 p.m. PT.
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