The Clippers lost to the Nets 110-95 in another poor offensive showing amid some questionable rotation decisions by coach Ty Lue. Keep reading for a full recap of the Clippers’ loss to the Nets.
The Clippers’ offense was sludgy from the get-go. Despite getting some stops on the Nets, they weren’t able to get out in transition, and settled for halfcourt offense. Unfortunately, they were totally stymied by the Nets’ pressure and physicality. The Clippers rushed shots, turned the ball over, and generally appeared uncomfortable. The Clippers’ bench started coming in, but the offense didn’t improve much. On the other end, the Nets created much easier looks, mostly because the Clippers doubled Durant and he got rid of the ball to create advantages. The Clippers’ continued taking mostly contested jumpers, though George did can a couple over the smaller Seth Curry. The Clips, however, trailed by only five at the end of one, a minor miracle.
Ivica Zubac and Reggie Jackson checked back in to start the second, and the tides of the game turned for a bit. The Clippers got stops, pushed in transition, and attacked the small-ball Nets (with Ben Simmons at center) at the rim to good results, soon claiming the lead. The Nets countered by returning Durant and Nic Claxton to the game, and immediately took the lead back. The Clippers’ starters simply could not manufacture much offense, and the Nets’ ball movement continued to generate easier looks for them that slowly started to fall. Zu picked up three fouls, and Ty went to John Wall to go super small, a lineup that did not play well. It was only when Nic Batum returned for Kennard at the very end of the half that the Clips swung back, and it was largely because of Nico’s defense and ball movement on offense. Despite being outplayed fairly soundly, the Clippers trailed by only four at half.
The quarter started with both teams playing slowly, and stayed that way more or less thoughout. Zu picked up his fourth foul fairly early on, but Ty Lue showed trust in th big man and left him in. The Clippers were able to grow a very small lead, but then, about halfway through the period, went through a five-six possession stretch of awful turnovers and bricks which gave the Nets the lead again. The Clippers went cold, not making a field goal from the 6:26 mark until Norm Powell’s dunk right before the end of the period, but still only trailed by four because the Nets outside of Durant couldn’t make shots and they had turnover issues of their own.
Ivica Zubac once again came back to anchor the bench unit. The Clippers didn’t play great to start the period, but did draw several fouls on the Nets in just over a minute. It was a seesaw affair for the first half of the quarter, with several ties and a bunch of lead changes. However, Ty Lue went small at the 7 minute mark with the Clippers down 3, to disastrous results. The Clippers couldn’t score, and their defense slowly slipped as Seth Curry got untracked. In fact, the Clippers didn’t score for 4:30, and in that time, the Nets lead went all the way up to 13, at which point the game was over. In that time, the Clippers barely stepped foot inside the lane, settling for contested jumpers time and again – and with no Zu to grab offensive boards. Overall, a very underwhelming effort.
Bad Ty Game: The Clippers probably would have lost this one regardless with how poorly Paul George shot it, but Ty Lue coached a really bad game. Ivica Zubac was not on the floor to close this one out – for the crucial midsection of the 4th quarter – despite being by far the Clippers’ most effective player on both ends with 16 points and 15 rebounds. He continues to play John Wall and Reggie Jackson together, including extended stretches with Norm Powell or Luke Kennard on the floor as well, and those lineups are not working on either end. The Clippers’ mantra coming into the year was wings and forwards and switchable defense, yet they continue to play ultra small with several guards on the floor at once. It’s rather confusing. It would be one thing if the Clippers’ offense was unleashing fire in the super-small units, but it hasn’t, at all. If Robert Covington is still recovering from COVID, I get him not playing, but otherwise, I’m at a loss – and even if he is, then play Amir Coffey a bit! The Clippers are playing too small, an even worse stance with no Kawhi Leonard.
Sludgy Offense: The Clippers just don’t look comfortable on offense, which is odd, because outside of John Wall, the roster is very similar to last year. Yes, Norm Powell didn’t play much, especially with Paul George, but still, these are players who should be familiar with how they operate, and it frequently doesn’t look that way. Without Kawhi Leonard offense was always going to be tougher for this team, but it really shouldn’t be as bad as it has been. And, 13 games in, and with pretty good health outside of Kawhi, the excuses for it being “the start of the season” are also beginning to run dry.
No Rest for the Weary: Another confusing thing that ties into the first note is Ty Lue going with a 9-man rotation. This, feasibly, should help to build chemistry and get players more in rhythm. From that standpoint, I get it. However, it hasn’t really worked (yet, anyway), and is also risky for a team that plays a lot of guys in their 30s. Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris, and Paul George continue to log 30+ minutes on a regular basis, and while it makes sense with George considering his impact on both ends, I’m not really sure why Reggie and Morris (though he’s been great offensively to start the year) are playing this much when the Clippers have good options chilling on the pine. The hardest part of this season was always going to be trying to win games and build chemistry while avoiding injury and keeping guys rested, and so far I think Lue might be erring a bit hard on the “winning games now” component.
Poor Ben Simmons: On a non-Clippers note, Ben Simmons looked awful out there. He played 14 minutes, and I only noticed him for maybe half of those. He can still grab rebounds and make some nice passes, but he’s a non-threat to score and doesn’t seem as dynamic defensively. Some of it is probably the back issues, but his confidence looks totally spent, and it’s brutal to watch.