LOS ANGELES – Justice Winslow said he had never been in that position before, never needing to lift the person up after he missed a late free throw in the loser.
“I have teammates who were in that position and I loved trying to pick them up, so it was different for me, being on the other end of that,” before firing the Clippers’ 25-year-old forward. said on Monday, as he reflected philosophically on Saturday’s events during the Clippers’ 104-103 loss to Oklahoma City.
He has been a worthwhile contributor to the short-handed Clippers for four consecutive games, averaging six points, shooting 52.6% from the field and recording four rebounds and one assist in that period.
And on Saturday, he debuted as a Clipper for the first time and played well, finishing with nine points and a team-high nine rebounds. He conceded two points and an assist to Shai Gilgius-Alexander in 3 minutes, 30 seconds, he was the primary defender on the Thunder’s star point guard.
But after 7.8 seconds, Winslow missed two free throws. So instead of the Clippers taking a four-point or three-point lead, their advantage remained just two, and it set the stage for Gilgius-Alexander to launch a game-winning 3-pointer as time ran out.
And though his teammates rallied around him — “there were a lot of things that put us in that position at the end, everyone was positive with him,” Luke Kennard said after the game — Winslow said he needed to be on his own. It takes a moment.
“I took two minutes outside the locker room, just walking around,” Winslow said. “In my younger days, I was probably kicking chairs and … slapping walls. But I just needed a couple minutes to walk around, to talk to myself, just to be calm.
“But I knew that in the grand scheme of things, there was a lot of drama in that game that made us lose that game. Sure the lens can be narrowed on my free throws, but I know there are more plays I could have made – even myself, even someone else. No – that could have helped us win that game, even earlier. So just to understand, to see the big picture. Understand that we’ve got 82 of these, so after 36 hours, we’re here to prepare for the second one, so that things go faster.”
And in case anyone else wants to go further, Winslow — a new father — has a perspective that dwarfs the outcome of a game.
“I mean, I love the sport, and I want to win a championship and I want to do those free throws and all that, but at the end of the day, my responsibility is a little bit more important to him – a lot more important, Winslow said, her eyes gleaming with the mention of her 5-week-old son, Nico. “I have my passions and things I love to do, but it’s an obvious No. 1 passion for me now.
“Every day I come home with something new, especially from a road trip. He’s the best. He is so big but small at the same time. We have already got that bond, they speak the same language. It’s just the best.”
Winslow said she has to try not to constantly call home from the street, “because I don’t want her to be like a phone addict, but that’s it, I’ll be on the road a lot.
“But of course, after the last game and the way it ended for me, I just wanted to go back to him and see his face.”
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr was formally named the next head coach of the US men’s national basketball team in San Francisco on Monday. He will take over for San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich, who led the Americans to gold at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo – and who was leading the Spurs in a game against the Clippers on Monday at the Staples Center.
Before the tip-off, Popovich said he was “thrilled” to hand over the proverbial baton to Kerr & Co.
“Great employee,” said Popovich. “We were all together last summer. Monty (Williams) was there before, but throughout the summer, he was supportive and we talked, so he coached and stayed with him and was part of our schedule as a coach. I know him well, but everyone else. Spo (Eric Spoelstra) and Mark (some) and Steve were all in the bunker with me and great experience and I think to handle them, it’s wonderful.
Popovich – who has coached the Spurs to five NBA championships – also said he considers this summer’s gold medal one of the highlights of his illustrious career.
Popovich said, “I can tell you it was the most satisfying athletic experience of my life…” We had a lot of obstacles ahead of us and these guys made a lot of sacrifices to be there in those conditions and… they did all that. Did what we were all told to do.
“All the coaches who are going to go ahead and be there … worked from morning till night trying to put that thing together. The players knew this and they allowed us to coach them and it was the second best.” It was a satisfying experience, keeping the players at that level you could probably accommodate some.”