New-look Clip­pers up­beat af­ter big win

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By An­drew Greif

The new-look Clip­pers en­tered Satur­day’s game in Bos­ton like puz­zle pieces un­sure about their col­lec­tive fit. They left TD Gar­den call­ing their de­but as pos­i­tive a first im­pres­sion imag­in­able for a group at­tempt­ing to pull off a dif­fi­cult feat — build­ing trust on the fly while hold­ing on to a play­off spot in the reg­u­lar sea­son’s stretch run.

“It was a lit­tle bit of a roller-coaster game, right?” rookie Landry Shamet said af­ter the Clip­pers ral­lied from 28 points down to beat Bos­ton 123-112 in the largest come­back in fran­chise his­tory. “I learned a lot in a re­ally short pe­riod of time about this team.

“You’ve got Pa­trick Beverley and [Mon­trezl Har­rell], two guys that are go­ing to play hard all the time. They want to win, they make it very ob­vi­ous. When you get in a sit­u­a­tion like that and they keep claw­ing, as vo­cal as they were, and as hard as they play, it trick­les down from there. Ev­ery­body else meets that stan­dard.”

Los An­ge­les’ im­prob­a­ble vic­tory kept it half a game be­hind sev­enth-place San An­to­nio and one game ahead of ninth-place Sacramento in the West­ern Con­fer­ence stand­ings.

It was its sec­ond game fol­low­ing Thurs­day’s trade dead­line but its first with most of its new ac­qui­si­tions avail­able to play. (Wil­son Chan­dler re­mains out be­cause of a strained right quad.)

The Clip­pers had one prac­tice, one shootaround and some time at their ho­tel with Shamet, Gar­rett Tem­ple, JaMy­chal Green and Ivica Zubac be­fore tipoff.

They spent that time “just be­ing our­selves,” Tem­ple said. “At the end of the day, the bas­ket­ball court is ev­ery­one’s safe haven.”

Af­ter what coach Doc Rivers termed an “up­tight” first half, the Clip­pers’ freeflow­ing play af­ter half­time of­fered a blue­print for how they envi­sion play­ing to­gether.

Af­ter scor­ing 41 points in the first quar­ter, Bos­ton scored 38 points af­ter half­time while com­mit­ting 11 turnovers. That helped the Clip­pers hold a 14-4 ad­van­tage in tran­si­tion points af­ter half­time — cru­cial for an at­tack that had in­stalled next to noth­ing in its half­court of­fense.

“The blue­print is de­fend and get out and run so we don’t have to face set de­fenses,” said Tem­ple, who started at small for­ward in his Clip­pers de­but. “But just also move the ball, shoot open shots and make quick de­ci­sions. We know that we can guard, man. Still learn­ing each other’s ten­den­cies but we know what the peo­ple can and can’t do. If we can de­fend, we can beat any­body.”

With lead­ing scorer To­bias Har­ris — one of the team’s best off-the-drib­ble cre­ators of of­fense — traded, the Clip­pers can no longer bank on one go-to scorer, espe­cially dur­ing first quar­ters, where Har­ris ranked 10th in the league in scor­ing.

The Clip­pers spread the ball around in­stead, with eight scor­ers in dou­ble fig­ures. (Nine is the fran­chise record.) Seven­teen of their 23 field goals af­ter half­time were as­sisted.

Rivers cred­ited Beverley with keeping his team­mates fo­cused even while fall­ing be­hind by 28.

“It’s amaz­ing some­times [Beverley] doesn’t have to score and his spirit helps you win the game,” Rivers said. “At half­time it wasn’t a team talk­ing about they were go­ing to lose. They were talk­ing about how they were go­ing to win. Doesn’t mean it’s go­ing to hap­pen, but they do be­lieve that.”

Clip­pers coaches are walk­ing a dif­fi­cult line of not in­stalling too much too quickly and over­whelm­ing the new ad­di­tions while know­ing they have lit­tle ground to lose with only 25 games re­main­ing.

The Clip­pers weren’t plan­ning to add to their play­book Sun­day, a travel day en route to Min­nesota, and “then the next game we may put one more thing in,” Rivers said. “We’re go­ing to take it slow but you can still win that way.”

Satur­day’s come­back, which broke the ice between new team­mates and broke a team record in the process, in­di­cated as much.

“It makes that much of a dif­fer­ence,” Shamet said. “Come­back win like that or lose by 30? It’s like, dang, it makes it a lot eas­ier, this tran­si­tion. I’m just ex­cited to keep go­ing for­ward.”

TONIGHT AT MIN­NESOTA

When: 5 PST. On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Ra­dio: 570, 1330. Up­date: This is the last stop of the Clip­pers’ (31-26) sixgame trip . ... Min­nesota (2530) has lost four con­sec­u­tive games and six of its last seven . ... Beverley made two key three-point­ers late against Bos­ton and has made 47.5% of his three-point­ers in his last 29 games, while also av­er­ag­ing 5.6 re­bounds and 4.7 as­sists. Beverley called him­self “stronger than I’ve ever been” fol­low­ing the knee surgery that caused him to miss nearly the en­tire last sea­son . ... New cen­ter Zubac had 12 points, nine re­bounds and three blocks, only the sev­enth time this sea­son a Clip­per has posted those to­tals or more. “Zubac can re­ally play,” Rivers said.

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