Clippers say there's no need to panic about their offense

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·3 min read
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Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George drives to the basket between Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, left, and center Jusuf Nurkic during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
Clippers forward Paul George drives to the basket between Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, left, and center Jusuf Nurkic on Friday. (Craig Mitchelldyer / Associated Press)

Even Tyronn Lue isn’t above some early season overreaction. In nearly the same breath that the Clippers coach assures reporters his team’s offense that ranks among the worst in the league will be OK, he admits that the repeated bricks being thrown at the team’s house of patience and persistence are starting to creep into his conscience.

“It is kinda tough,” Lue said Sunday of the Clippersoffensive struggles. “If you're playing well and you're getting the shots you want to get and you're not making them, does that call for change? That's the biggest thing you go back and forth with.”

Off to a 1-4 start, the Clippers are far from panicking, but still looking for ways to jumpstart their stagnant offense. Lue said he will tinker with rotations to solve long scoring droughts when star forward Paul George is on the bench. The coach will have something new in store for Monday’s game at Staples Center against Oklahoma City but left out further details.

The Clippers have the league’s fourth-least efficient offense and have scored fewer than 100 points in consecutive games for the first time in 41 games.

It’s not that they’re taking bad shots, forward Terance Mann said, it's just that the shots aren’t falling. While the coaching staff shuffles lineups searching for an answer, players remain unfazed, thanks to veteran leadership that is “cool, calm and collected through it,” Mann said.

In the forefront is George, who must carry the load until Kawhi Leonard can return from a knee injury. George is coming off a 42-point, eight-rebound performance in the Clippers’ 111-92 loss at Portland on Friday and is averaging 27.6 points per game.

“PG’s been phenomenal, man,” said Mann, who added that George’s productivity is inspiring. “He’s been doing a great job of leading us on the offensive and the defense end. … There’s not much you can say about PG. He’s done a great job of [doing] his job and what he has to do to keep us in every game night in and night out.”

Help could soon arrive in Serge Ibaka (back) and Marcus Morris (knee). The veteran forwards participated in a pre-practice five-on-five scrimmage Sunday to test their conditioning and didn’t show any signs of injury. Lue was unsure of a timetable for their return but was positive about their progress.

UP NEXT

Vs. Oklahoma City

When: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

On the air: TV: Bally Sports; Radio: 570, 1220

Update: The Thunder (1-5), who have yet to win on the road, feature a backcourt including former Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and rookie Josh Giddey, a 19-year-old drafted sixth overall in July. Gilgeous-Alexander has turned the ball over on only 8.7% of his possessions, the league’s third-lowest rate among qualifying point guards, according to Cleaning the Glass. Giddey has recorded 34 of Oklahoma City’s 119 assists, an assist rate that puts him in the 100th percentile among all players this season, on par with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Ricky Rubio. The 1-4 Clippers don’t want to rely solely on Paul George (27.6 points per game) for offense, but without a reliable second scorer, he’s been left to create for himself more often. He’s taking five off-the-dribble three-pointers per game and making 28% of them, which is nearly two more than last season’s average but an accuracy drop of 12 percentage points.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.