The Clippers tried something new in Dallas on Monday. They sent out a new starting XI whose makeup was motivated by injuries and likely history of the youngest and less younger breed.
LA was unprotected Patrick Beverley, who stayed in LA taking care of a sore right knee. Serge Ibaka, usually the starting center, also suffered a sore lower back that blew him away in New Orleans just eight minutes after the debacle on Sunday.
On Monday, Reggie Jackson and Ivica Zubac started in their place, Zubac, for the second time this season.
The unexpected twist: that Marcus Morris Sr. would join them on the grid instead of Nicolas Batum, who was leaving the bank for the first time in his Clippers tenure.
« We’re starting Marcus tonight through Nic Batum, » said Clippers trainer Tyronn Lue as he stood up from his seat at the end of the availability of foreplay on Monday and offered no further explanation before wishing the Zoom attendees well . « Have a nice day. »
According to NBA.com/stats, the five-man combo of Jackson, Morris, Zubac shared space with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for just four minutes on Monday.
Morris naturally threatened the Mavericks in the Clippers playoff series in the first round a few months ago in the bubble.
He pestered Luka Doncic with a defense that drew the wrath of the Mavericks star after Morris stepped on his injured ankle in Game 5 (Morris insisted it was an accident at the time) and then one harsh fouls on Doncic in the Clippers series was thrown out Game 6 victory.
On the offensive, Morris was also a force: he averaged 12.8 points, shooting 53.7% off the field and 53.8% off the 3-point range in the series. And he was there with 5.7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
In two starts this season, Morris has averaged 20.5 points, shooting 50% out of the field and 63.6% out of 3-point range.
A starter for much of his last nine NBA seasons and number 1 in New York a season ago, he volunteered to get off the bench this year when he saw the Clippers go fast with Batum Grid lines clicked while Morris – who signed a four-year contract for $ 64 million with the free agency – was sidelined for the first eight games of the season due to a sore knee.
Batum’s production has recently declined. As an experienced glue, his effect in the box rating is not fully measurable, but his 3-point shooting has become quantifiable worse.
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In his first 27 games in a Clippers uniform, the French striker shot 45.6% out of 3-point range – averaging 4.6 attempts per game. In his 10 games since then, Batum only hits those shots from depth 35.1% of the time and also takes fewer 3s – only 3.7 per competition. In the one-sided defeat against the Pelicans on Sunday, he took the lead 0: 4 from a distance.
« The Clippers did me a favor by giving me what I deserved and what I worked for, » said Morris after making his season debut from the bank in January. “I’m all a team. Whatever they ask of me, I’ll do it. If that comes off the bank, hey, I’ve started in this league for a long time, guys know what I can do. So I’m not here to prove anything to anyone, whether I’m starting or going off. I am here to help the team.
That sounded good to Lue, whose team was delighted with the Sunday loss that saw the Clippers lag by as much as 33 points and faced an up-and-coming Mavericks team that had won 11 of their last 14 games.
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