For the Clippers to rebound after a 0-2 road swing on Monday, it will help if they rebound well.
Saturday’s stinging defeat at Oklahoma City – as Nicolas Buttum deftly pointed out – has as much to do with an array of shortcomings as Shai Gilgius-Alexander’s big-time game-winning 3-pointer ended in time .
“I don’t want to cliché, but we didn’t lose at that,” said Clippers philosopher French via Zoom, after the 104-103 loss at Pecom Center. “Of course we lost in the last shot – but we made a lot of mistakes.”
Among the most dazzling: the disparity on the boards, where the Thunder dominated in the fourth quarter – 21-8, including a 10-1 advantage over the aggressive Glass.
All those extra chances meant that in the game decided by the final shot, Oklahoma City beat the Clippers 8–0 on second-chance opportunities.
So, in the final 12 minutes, the Clippers would have taken a 6.4% better shot off the ground, made three more free throws and swung the ball five times less, but they only outscored OKC by one point – right now Not enough, thanks to SGA, former Clipper.
“Tonight, I mean, the offensive revolt was yuck,” Butam said. “Like, he had 17 offensive rebounds (total)? And we lost on the buzzer?”
Tyrone Lew’s squad has lagged behind on the offensive Glass for most of the season, even as it managed to walk in the water without injured star Kawhi Leonard [whichever combination of players is out with injury or in COVID-19 health and safety protocols],
They enter Monday’s game against San Antonio at Staples Center 16-14, the Clippers’ final game in the building before being renamed Crypto.com Arena over Christmas.
All the way, rebounding has been a topic of conversation—before the Clippers’ first meeting with the Thunder on November 1. This was when Lew attributed the Clippers’ ineffective offensive rebounding results in their first five games to the fact that the shorter ball – without Leonard and, at the time, Marcus Morris Sr. – meant really small ball. It puts them at a clear disadvantage, Lew said, when there’s no one taller than 6-foot-8 Paul George to fight for the boards.
“When we get younger, like we’re really small and so we have to turn the gang over,” Lew said then. “It’s a fine line to try to score and go short to the floor, and then rebound the basketball as well.”
The Clippers averaged 8.4 offensive boards per game at the time. Twenty-five games later, he averages 8.9 offensive rebounds, the third worst in the league.
Before the Clippers beat Boston on December 8, it surfaced again, and Lew said, “We just have to do a better job of engaging in rebounding. As such, we can’t expect our big players to only engage in basketball.” I will be the one to return.”
Lew talks about Terrence Mann and Eric Bledsoe crashing Glass from their guard positions “because they get them, and if they don’t, they’re able to get back because of their speed.”
But it can be a tougher question for the guy who’s doing heavier lifting than he’s used to; Mann has a career-high 5.6 rebound average this season, but in the past five games, he has logged 35 minutes per game as a starter with George nursing a sprained right elbow. And Mann played a season-high 41 minutes on Saturday – including all 12 in the fourth period.
Mann noted that some of the Thunder’s rebounding success late Saturday was due to the Clippers’ defense: “We forced them to miss a lot of shots, which lasted too long, which forced a very long rebound, causing We got hurt,” he said.
And some of the unevenness was helped by some clippings to stretch the floor and go “really small.” They went without one of their traditional centers for 2.1 minutes in the fourth quarter (this doubled when Isaiah Harttenstein suffered an ankle injury with 2:08 to play).
But pretty much chalk it up to OKC, just bang your guests on the glass.
Nineteen-year-old rookie Josh Giddy displayed a real skill at putting himself in a position to clean up omissions; The slender, 6-8 guard had a career-high 18 boards total and almost automatically outplayed the Clippers when he had seven in the fourth quarter.
[Kenny] Movement stats. I pic.twitter.com/HQkio3HxJd
— OKC Thunder (@okcthunder) December 19, 2021
Kenrich Williams, a 6-6 short forward, had three quarter-period boards that alternated fundamentals (a strong box-out from 7-foot center Ivica Zubac), anticipation and athleticism (she slipped between Mann and Hartenstein). He displayed both out-spring (for a putback) and court-awareness (with a touch, he redirected a long rebound to an open low dort for a 3-point try).
And before Gilgius-Alexander made the big shot, he made the big shot possible.
Because he prepared for Justice Winslow – a 37.5% free-throw shooter who was deliberately fouled by Gilgius-Alexander – to miss his second free throw, from behind the 3-point line to secure the SGA Finals Was able to leave everyone behind. A crucial rebound of the night, giving the Thunder one last shot.
“Learned from it,” Buttum said, “it’s a tough loss. We fought, we fought, so now we have to go back home (Sunday) have a nice day and get ready for San Antonio.
Spurs on Clippers
When: Mondays, 7:30 pm
Where: Staples Center
TV: Bally Sports SoCal