Grif­fin wore out their wel­come mat, now Davis is back

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By An­drew Greif

By Sun­day, the awk­ward part was over.

One day after Blake Grif­fin faced his for­mer team in Los An­ge­les for the first time and scored 44 points in an emo­tional De­troit Pis­tons vic­tory, the Clip­pers gath­ered at their Playa Vista fa­cil­ity and moved on.

The fan­fare was over, the thank-yous ex­pressed, the story lines writ­ten.

The bad news: The next matchup won’t be any eas­ier.

The Clip­pers host an­other big man and for­mer No. 1 over­all draft pick with an arse­nal of scor­ing op­tions Mon­day when An­thony Davis and New Or­leans visit.

Clip­pers coach Doc Rivers has known Davis since he was in high school through a con­nec­tion with his son Austin, and called him­self “amazed” at how dom­i­nant Davis has be­come. Davis has av­er­aged 28.5 points and 13 re­bounds against the Clip­pers this sea­son and 28.9 points, 13.3 re­bounds, 4.4 as­sists and 2.6 blocks over­all.

“I knew he’d be good, but of­fen­sively, I didn’t know he was go­ing be this good,” Rivers said. “I mean, he’s a spe­cial, gen­er­a­tional tal­ent.”

Whereas the Clip­pers have played Davis twice this sea­son, this was the first time they hosted Grif­fin. Rivers wasn’t sure whether his re­turn be­came much of a dis­trac­tion in the locker room be­cause the ros­ter has changed so much in the year since the trade.

“Our guys wanted to beat him be­cause he used to be here,” Rivers said. “Some­times you don’t even have to be here and you want to beat the guy.”

Satur­day’s loss was the Clip­pers’ sec­ond con­sec­u­tive and part of a stretch of 10 games in 19 days that Rivers calls the “man­age run,” be­cause how the Clip­pers get through it will be de­ter­mined in part by how he man­ages the work­load on the days be­tween games.

“It’s a bal­anc­ing act,” he said. “You’ve just got to try to fig­ure out on which day do you not prac­tice and do shootarounds, and which day do you prac­tice and then don’t do shootarounds.”

He opted against ei­ther Sun­day. After warmups ended, Rivers brought play­ers into the film room and turned on a sur­prise screen­ing of the film “Green Book.” Prac­tice was can­celed.

Who won the deal?

While Grif­fin was go­ing off Satur­day, the play­ers traded for him couldn’t match his pro­duc­tion.

For­ward To­bias Har­ris had 11 points and 10 re­bounds, Avery Bradley had three points and Boban Mar­janovic did not play.

While Har­ris has be­come one of the Clip­pers’ most con­sis­tent scor­ers, Bradley has en­dured ups and downs while re­cov­er­ing from ab­dom­i­nal surg­eries and Mar­janovic has played spo­rad­i­cally.

Bradley is shoot­ing 37.8%, his low­est per­cent­age since his rookie sea­son eight years ago. A vo­cal sub­sec­tion of fans on so­cial me­dia have called for his 28 min­utes a game to be re­duced, and Rivers ac­knowl­edged he’s con­sid­ered it. But he con­tends that Bradley’s de­fense re­mains ir­re­place­able.

Asked Satur­day about us­ing re­serve Ty­rone Wal­lace in Bradley’s place, Rivers bris­tled.

“You think Ty­rone Wal­lace is like Avery Bradley de­fen­sively? If you do think that, you need to go back and watch more film,” Rivers said. “That would be my an­swer. I think Ty’s a hell of an of­fen­sive player . ...

“Avery’s value right now, as Rex [Kalamian, Clip­pers as­sis­tant coach] termed, is ‘un-stat­able.’ That’s not a word, but it’s a word in our vo­cab­u­lary now, and that’s Avery’s value to us.”

The Clip­pers did find a statis­tic in Bradley’s fa­vor: He leads the NBA in fewest points al­lowed per pos­ses­sion while de­fend­ing through screens, on at least 45 pos­ses­sions, ac­cord­ing to Syn­ergy Sports.

Satur­day marked the fourth time in five games Mar­janovic hasn’t played. Last week Rivers said the 7foot-3 cen­ter re­mains in a “by com­mit­tee” ro­ta­tion.

Re­main­ing ready to con­trib­ute can be dif­fi­cult be­cause prac­tices are rare and even then, the speed is dif­fer­ent from that of a game, Mar­janovic said.

“I’m not wor­ry­ing about it or an­gry, I just want my team to win,” Mar­janovic said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.