After another 30-point win vs the Pacers, the Clippers’ GPAs just keep climbing. Let’s check out Clippers vs Pacers player grades after Sunday evening’s destruction.
Clippers Starter Grades
Patrick Beverley: A-. This wasn’t a particularly explosive Patrick Beverley game (the same is true for the entire starting lineup), but he really just did everything that was needed to make the right plays against a Pacers defense that overplayed Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, leaving space behind them for other Clippers to thrive. Beverley had 11 points, making a couple of threes, and importantly came up with 6 assists as he found shooters as a secondary playmaker when Leonard and George got the ball away from Indiana’s pressure.
Paul George: A-. It was a quiet night for George, but he was lethally efficient as his 20 points came on just 11 field goal attempts. For the most part, Paul’s job tonight was to just absorb the Pacers’ pressure, protect the ball, draw a second defender, and find an outlet–the rest of the Clippers took it from there. It was a simple night for PG where the threat he poses was enough to shape the Pacers’ defense in a way that opened up plentiful good opportunities for others. Speaking of getting to the rim, PG might have had the dunk of the year for the Clippers tonight.
Kawhi Leonard: A-. I don’t have a ton to say for Kawhi that doesn’t apply to PG, though it should be noted that I particularly appreciate his 5 assists to just 1 turnover as well as his real emphasis on taking over in the third quarter, which is when the Clippers truly blew this game open and put the Pacers away.
Nicolas Batum: B-. This game wasn’t Nic’s best. He made a couple of corner threes but was mostly invisible offensively on a night when almost everyone got to try their hand as a secondary playmaker, and he had a few defensive lapses early in the game while guarding Doug McDermott that led Indiana to most of their sparse offense in the early going.
Ivica Zubac: C+. Given the opportunity to start with Serge Ibaka unavailable tonight due to non-COVID illness, Zu had a fine, if underwhelming night. When he played, he was good but not great. Offensively, he made smart plays early on to bust a fronting Pacers defense, getting a dunk on a loft pass on an out-of-bounds play as well as a driving dunk when Domantas Sabonis left an open lane in an attempt to deny a dribble handoff. Add in some great passing off the short roll and he had himself a night. Defensively, results were mixed. He had a great opening on Sabonis, the Pacers’ best player, but as Sabonis got reps against Patterson on LAC’s second unit he built some momentum that kept going when Zu returned. That was the main issue for Zu tonight–foul trouble. I think he caught a couple of bad breaks but nonetheless, when he’s gifted a chance to start and play heavy minutes with Serge out he should really make sure he stays on the floor.
Clippers Bench Player Grades
Marcus Morris: A. I mentioned above that most of the starters were not particularly explosive tonight, with Kawhi and PG mostly attracting defensive pressure and deferring to others who made shots. So if Pat was quiet and Nic was quiet and Serge and Lou both didn’t play, who stepped up? Well, Marcus Morris had himself a night–his first 20-point outing as a Clipper, on 7-11 from the field, 4-7 from deep, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Morris might not be a star, but you can see in the short time he’s been a Clipper why his versatility is so valuable to this team–he’s been a spot-up shooter, a switchable defender, a secondary playmaker, and now an explosive second-unit scorer. The game ball is his tonight.
Luke Kennard: A. More bench explosiveness, as Luke also recorded his first 20-point game with the club hitting 5 triples to go along with 4 boards and a pair of assists. He did miss three straight wide open threes in the second quarter as Indiana rallied from down 18 to come back within 3, but they were good shots at the right time in the offense and the misses didn’t phase him–they were his only inaccurate shots from deep on the night as he finished 5-8. And his touch pass in transition to find Patrick Patterson in the opposite corner was an absolute dime.
Patrick Patterson: B+. Pressed into duty at center with Ibaka sidelined, and then given additional minutes with Zubac in foul trouble, Patterson made a nice impact on the team’s offensive attack while somewhat hampering their efforts on the other end of the floor. It’s just hard to really find a place for him defensively–he can’t defend Sabonis one-on-one or when he’s screening, and matching him up with a forward presents a huge speed disadvantage. Offensively, though, he connected on 3-6 from downtown (despite two wide open corner misses in the same second-quarter stretch where Kennard had his 3 misses), and his spacing influenced a number of second-quarter plays where he didn’t touch the ball. With rim protector extraordinaire Myles Turner sidelined for Indiana and Sabonis forced to respect Patterson’s jumper, Paul George had a ton of success getting to the rim in the second quarter.
Reggie Jackson: C. In the saga of “Good Reggie, Bad Reggie,” the Clippers got bad Reggie tonight after getting the very best version of good Reggie on Friday against the Kings. He forced things offensively, resulting in bad shots, instead of letting the game come to him for open threes and driving lanes. Then, in garbage time, he simply wasn’t focused and oversaw a barrage of turnovers–including an 8-second violation where he wasn’t paying attention–that the Clippers were lucky didn’t threaten their lead.
Terance Mann: B. Terance was fine in garbage time minutes tonight but his most notable moment was getting his pocket picked by TJ McConnell early in the fourth. Not a ton to take away here. He was +7 in his 11 fourth quarter minutes, but that was mostly PG slamming the door shut in the opening possessions of the period while Terance watched.
Amir Coffey: B+. The garbage time Pacers didn’t put up much of a fight–Indiana’s injuries not only pulled more guys into their rotation but took away depth bodies as well, and the four guys who only came in for garbage time combined to shoot 1-9 from the field. But, Amir is on blowout duty for the Clippers and his lineups got a +2 in the final 7 minutes of the game. That’s his only job.
Mfiondu Kabengele: B. Fi had one big block and a couple of boards, but didn’t get a shot up and was pretty invisible in 5 minutes outside of that rejection. Nothing bad, one great play, and the team won his minutes, but still far from anything suggesting he’s more than what we currently think he is.
Daniel Oturu: A-. Oturu did nicely for himself in garbage time, scoring on a short turnaround jumper, logging an assist in transition, and fighting on the offensive glass. I am not expecting him to break into LAC’s rotation anytime soon, but I do think he’s shown more NBA potential in this young season than Fi has in the same span plus a full season last year. I think he should be getting called before Fi in garbage time, and in situations like tonight where one of LAC’s normal centers are out, I wouldn’t hate to see Oturu get a few reps off the bench with the big boys.
Serge Ibaka missed the game with a non-COVID illness, Lou Williams remained out tonight with a minor hip issue, and Jay Scrubb is still in a walking boot after foot surgery in December. Other than that, every Clipper played, every Clipper scored, and every Clipper received a grade.
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