The chuckle came first and then the head shake was next, perhaps that being the only way for Clippers coach Tyronn Lue to come to grips with his team’s unrelenting schedule.
They played their seventh game in 11 nights, the Clippers at least at home facing the surging Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
As the Clippers have done so much this season, they got down big, rallied to get back in the game and had a chance to tie the score, but Marcus Morris Sr. had his potential tying three-pointer blocked by Precious Achiuwa with 1.3 seconds left, sending L.A. to a 103-100 defeat to the Raptors.
“It was a good challenge for us offensively,” Lue said.
The Clippers trailed by 17 points in the third but closed to within four at the end of the quarter.
The Clippers again got down in the fourth but rallied from the 10-point deficit to trail 101-100 on a three-pointer by Nicolas Batum with 35.1 seconds left.
Fred Van Vleet missed the second of two free throws, but he got his own offensive rebound, drawing a foul.
The Clippers allowed the Raptors to get 13 offensive rebounds, a problem they couldn’t solve.
Still, Van Vleet made just one of two free throws, leaving the door open for the Clippers, who trailed by three points with nine seconds left.
Lue inserted center Ivica Zubac for rebounding purposes this time.
“I should have did it the first time,” Lue said about putting his big center back in the game for size. “I messed up. I should have got him in.”
Morris, who had 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds, couldn’t get by the defense of Achiuwa.
“That was the play we were trying to get,” said Reggie Jackson, who had 23 points and nine assists. “They did a good job of pressing him. … They just got a stop — fortunately for them and unfortunately for us.”
The Clippers had just returned home from a three-game trip, going 1-2 while resting mainstays Jackson and Morris during Monday night’s overtime loss at Cleveland.
The Clippers are having to endure this tortuous scheduled short-handed — Kawhi Leonard (right knee), Paul George (right elbow) and Norman Powell, who had the boot taken off his left foot with a fractured medial sesamoid bone, all are out. Robert Covington missed five games for personal reasons; he was back for the Raptors game, however.
With so many games in so many days and being without some bodies, Lue was asked how his team has handled all of this.
“The team has been pretty good,” Lue said. “I like what I saw last game against Cleveland. I know we were short-handed. We got Marcus and Reggie some rest, but our young guys came in and played well.
“We understand the circumstances. We’re the only team with five [sets of] five [games] in seven [nights]. We just go out and try to compete every night and win every game.”
The problem for the Clippers was dealing with Pascal Siakam, who had 31 points on 13-for-22 shooting and 12 rebounds.
The Clippers have 10 regular-season games left, and the next two are on the road, starting with Friday’s game at Utah.
The Clippers will have three days off before playing at Denver on March 22.
No matter what, Lue said, the Clippers will be ready. “I think we’re mentally focused,” Lue said. “They understand that as a team we have to get better at, some things that we have to add. And, so, the guys are getting the proper amount of rest.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
Source: Yahoo Sports