Is it a Clippers-Sixers matchup in Philly if key Clippers players are out and the game isn’t decided at the end because the Clippers have no answers for Joel Embiid? The Clips ultimately came up short, but put together a nice effort against a very good Sixers team. Let’s see who played well and who didn’t.
CLIPPERS STARTER GRADES
Reggie Jackson: C+. Reggie undoubtedly was impacted by some swarming Ben Simmons defense early on, as Simmons drew the assignment of slowing down Wednesday night’s hero. Reggie was picked up at half-court and sped up, forcing him to break offensive sets. For as hot as Reggie has been, it was strange that he turned down a few wide-open catch-and-shoot threes, which led to worse shots in the possession. The second half was a bit better as Reggie found some catch-and-shoot opportunities. But there were far too many of those Reggie possessions that give me in a bad state; the ones where he just dribbles around for long periods of time before he throws up a shot that doesn’t go in. Being the natural shooting guard that he is, he canned a few spot-up jumpers late, but it couldn’t quite outshine all that had happened to that point.
Luke Kennard: C-. Hardly noticeable, to be honest — which tends to happen with Luke, especially in the first half. It was zeros across the board for luke in the first 24 other than one missed three which was sent to the socially distanced fans at Wells Fargo Arena. He was better in the second half, though — he had a couple of actions where he got downhill and created threes for teammates, and also made his only three. But ultimately, he didn’t make shots and he was a team-worst minus-14. I could’ve done with fewer Luke’s minutes in this one, but I mean, where else could the Clippers turn?
Paul George: B+. Five straight 30-point games for PG after his 37 in Philly. He shook off some early first-quarter rust and got going a bit in the second. Whatever he did at halftime worked well because in the third quarter he was on another level. His shooting, passing, and defense really helped carry the team into the fourth with some momentum and a shot to win. Yet, as is the case with PG on most nights, he had a lot of turnovers (7) and mental errors as a result of trying to do way too much. But the Sixers are a great defense and it’s always tough winning in Philly. PG put forth a spirited effort on this night (37/9/6) but didn’t get enough from the others.
Marcus Morris Sr.: B-. When you look at the box score you could conclude that Morris Sr. had a solid game offensively, which he did — 15 points on 50 percent shooting with two three-pointers. But the physicality of Ben Simmons and Mike Scott gave Morris Sr. a challenge tonight. Nothing was clean for him on the offensive end — catch-and-shoot threes were rare, driving lanes were clogged, and post iso’s were hard to come by. Mook’s tank was also was probably running on “E” for most of the night as he had to take on the Joel Embiid matchup as the Clippers downsized in the second half. For that alone, he deserves some praise in this grading. An awkward game-winning heave leaves a weird taste in my mouth though.
Ivica Zubac: D+. This game was going to be a nice test for Zu to measure how capable he is of dealing with an elite NBA big. He did not pass this test — certainly not in the first half. Two early fouls, drawn by Joel Embiid, sent Zu to the bench for much of the first quarter, which is also where he spent the majority of the second quarter after fouling Embiid in the paint. Zu was better in the second half as a one-on-one defender, but by that time in the game had to surrender a few baskets at the rim to avoid foul trouble. It ultimately wouldn’t matter much as he left the game in the third and didn’t return. Zu didn’t have much impact at all in this game and the Clippers could’ve used at least a little bit from him. Joel Embiid remains a nightmare for the Clippers (and most teams) to figure out.
CLIPPERS BENCH PLAYER GRADES
Terance Mann: C+. Another quiet statistical game from Terance, but he was still perfectly okay. He pretty much played the role of a Rodney McGruder in this one — defending, bringing energy, and not providing much offense, while sparing minutes for others. His rebounding was there per usual but didn’t have any other noteworthy moments. The Sixers did a good job of slowing the game down and mucking it up, which made Terance’s fit a little bit awkward.
Rajon Rondo. B+: Rajon Rondo was the Clippers’ best player in the first half against the Sixers. He displayed some incredible playmaking out of the PNR and found the touch from behind the line. But probably the most essential part of this game was Rondo being the only player on the team that was able to get the Clippers through their offensive sets (see Reggie Jackson criticism above). Not much else to say about this one other than that Rondo was very impactful. 10/4/7 and he continues to be good for the Clippers.
Nicolas Batum: C+. It took a long time for Nic to make some impact in this one but he came alive a bit during the end of the third. He had a few fourth-quarter possessions in which he made those high-IQ passes, made some shots, and played some solid defense. Unfortunately, he had two costly mistakes down the stretch that gave the Sixers some points that they hadn’t earned, and those kinds of things hurt in a dog-it-out game like this one. Despite taking a while to make some impact, and shooting only 1-6, Nic (and Rondo) still carved out a team-best plus-7. Overall, not his best stuff.
Patrick Patterson: A. After seeing DeMarcus Cousins check into the game before him, PatPat found his groove late in the second quarter. He hit a few three-pointers to save the game from potentially becoming insurmountable. He replicated that performance again in the second half as I really can’t recall any of his three three-pointers even touching the rim. Patterson was also decent on defense as he made a few good plays containing the dribble drive. With 18 points on 5-7 shooting from three, I can definitely say that this what PatPat’s most impactful game of the season. Maybe the Clips win this game if he had those five and a half minutes early on instead of DeMarcus.
Demarcus Cousins had a 5:35 stint in the first half and it was pretty forgetful. Amir Coffey, Daniel Oturu, and Malik Fitts all received healthy DNP-CD’s, while Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley, and Serge Ibaka were out with injuries.