Monthly Archives: December 2020

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Clippers Career: Al Thornton was the 1st round draft pick of the Clippers all the way back in 2007. Taken at 14, Al was fed a lot of minutes right off the bat, averaging 27.3 minutes a game in his rookie season—and showed a lot of promise. Scoring 12.7 points per game and pulling down 4.5 boards as well, Al made the All-Rookie 1st team and was considered a true cornerstone for the Clippers. The tweener forward improved on his basic stats in his sophomore season, increasing his scoring to an impressive 16.8 points per game. However, a look at his per-36 statistics shows a decline across the board, and his already mediocre shooting fell off a cliff. Still regarded as somewhat of a future piece going forward, the luster was clearly wearing away, and Thornton needed a big year three to really show his value. Sadly, his progress continued to stagnate (he shot more efficiently, but on lower usage, and peripheral stats remained poor), and the Clippers traded him in a three team deal which acquired Drew Gooden. On February 17, 2010, Cheap Al Thornton Jersey departed for the Wizards; many Clippers fans were upset at the move.

Post-Clippers NBA Career: Al played out the rest of the 2009-2010 season on the Wizards, putting up almost identical stats for them as he had for the Clippers. He remained on the Wiz for the start of the 2010-2011 season, but his minutes dropped, and his numbers fell accordingly. After 49 games, Al and Washington came to an agreement on a buyout, and he became a free agent for the first time in his career. He was claimed by the Warriors after just two days, and signed with them on March 3. Al’s minutes plummeted even further on the Warriors, dipping all the way to just 14.3 minutes per game. His rookie contract finished, Al Thornton’s NBA career ended not with a bang but a whimper. He was still just 27 years old.

2011-2012: Al didn’t sign another basketball contract until February 19 of 2012. Perhaps he was still waiting on a call from an NBA team that never came, or maybe he was just taking time away from the game. Regardless, he joined the Guayama Warriors of the Puerto Rican Basketball League—a very long way from the NBA. He averaged 18.7 points per game for them, one of the league’s leaders…. but Al’s problem was never scoring.

2012-2013: Al moved on from Puerto Rico to that infamous home of many an ex-NBA volume scorer: China. He signed with the Zhejiang Lions on September 29, 2012, and as most ex-NBA players do, put up ridiculous stats. Al scored 27.4 points per game on 46% shooting from the field and 42.9% from 3— impressive considering how poor his outside shooting had been in the NBA. He even pulled down 9.5 rebounds per game, albeit against much smaller and less athletic competition than in the NBA. Unfortunately, Al sustained an injury mid-season, and was waived for similar-playing gunner Gary Forbes.

2013-2014: After rehabbing from his injury for around a year, Al re-signed with the Guayama Wizards in Puerto Rico. He improved on his stats from his previous stint, scoring 21.7 points and pulling down 7.5 rebounds per game in just 31 minutes. Al still hadn’t developed his playmaking skills much, however, averaging just 1.9 assists per game—awful for such a ball dominant player. Sometime towards the end of the season, Al suffered yet another injury, this time in his knee.

2014-2016: Al joined the NLEX Road Warriors of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) on January 2, 2015, and then re-upped with them for the 2016 season. In this most recent season, he averaged a staggering 36.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game on 55% shooting from the floor and 42% from three. Among his many great performances was a 69 point outburst, the likes of which the Philippines had probably never seen before. Just several weeks ago, he led the Philippines to a gold medal in the 38th William Jones cup– an international FIBA-Asia tournament—by throwing up double-double after double-double.

The Future: To my knowledge Al has not yet signed with a team for the 2016-2017 season. His performances in the PBA and the William Jones Cup surely demonstrate that he has good basketball ahead of him, and he should be able to find a home somewhere. Al is 32, and his chances of ever returning to the NBA are very small, but anything is possible. Just a couple years ago he was still getting interest from NBA teams in regards to at least a training camp invite, but preferred guaranteed money and a bigger role overseas. Outside of age, the roadblocks to an NBA comeback are primarily the same they always were– below average passing and defense. Look for him to sign somewhere in Asia or possibly Europe in the coming months. Good luck to Al, a truly terrific scorer (and apparently teammate) who never quite found a way to add much else to his game.

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One day after the Clippers suffered their most lopsided defeat in franchise history, center Cheap Serge Ibaka Jersey called himself comfortable with the direction his team is headed.

“I don’t think last night’s gonna define who we are,” Ibaka said Monday.

Who are the Clippers, exactly, through three games? Before becoming the first NBA team in the 66-year shot-clock era to fall behind by 50 points at halftime, en route to a 51-point loss to Dallas, the Clippers had held off the Lakers and Denver by improving their offensive and defensive execution during critical moments.

But after taking a punch from Dallas early in Sunday’s first quarter, however, “they should have had more fight,” coach Tyronn Lue said before practice.

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Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, left, drives towards the basket as Los Angeles Clippers guard.
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Ibaka, the 11-year veteran, believes offense won’t be a problem for the Clippers, even though they made only four of 33 three-pointers, shot 34% overall and attacked the paint just 16 times in the loss, according to Lue. The misfires belied the quality of many attempts. Fifteen three-pointers were taken when the closest defender was six or more feet away, the NBA’s definition of wide open. The problem was, the Clippers made only two of them.

What will define the Clippers, Ibaka said, is their willingness to compete on defense consistently.

“We cannot forget that defense wins championships,” he said.

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Said second-year guard Cheap Terance Mann Jersey: “We got a new defensive coach so new defensive schemes, things of that nature. To be locked in defensively isn’t an easy thing to do, and it will take time. We got plenty of games left so it will come as time goes. But we are on the right track.”

Getting Cheap Kawhi Leonard Jersey (lacerated mouth) and Cheap Marcus Morris Jersey (sore knee) back in the lineup would provide a boost to the defense, and Lue said both would practice Monday, though the extent of their workload was unclear given the practice was scheduled to be a “mental day” for the team, according to Mann.

Lue didn’t say whether either would play Tuesday against Minnesota, offering only that the team would “see how they feel.”

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“I’ve been in the league for 24 years and so I’ve seen crazy things happen. But it’s over and it’s behind us and now we’ve got to look forward,” Lue said of the loss. “We can’t keep dwelling on what happened last year and what happened last game. Now we’ve got to focus on Minnesota, and I think our guys are in the right frame of mind to do that.”

Ibaka and Lue’s confidence in the Clippers’ direction is based on more data points than three games. Having been inside practices and huddles, they expressed a strong belief that the team is building good habits.

“They kicked our butt, no excuses, but I really liked the way our guys and Kawhi and Marcus and Serge and [Cheap Paul George Jersey] and Pat Beverley and those guys were very encouraging to the young guys who were playing most of the second half,” Lue said. “Just staying engaged and still being a part of the team.”

While coaches met in a separate huddle during one timeout Sunday, Leonard pulled down his mask to say a few words to his teammates. The moment, though brief, was consistent with the way the typically reticent Leonard has attempted to be more vocal.

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Upon his hiring in October, Lue challenged Leonard and George to make their teammates better through the way they play. In Leonard’s case, that emphasis has extended to the way he carries himself, said Ibaka, who knows better than most the kind of confidence Leonard can instill in teammates from winning a title alongside him in Toronto two seasons ago.

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“I talked to him when I got here and I told him, ‘Listen, you are our leader, and we need to follow you by example, you know?’” Ibaka said. “Leaders need not only to come on the court and score 30 points. You have to show the team, your teammates, like you’re willing to give everything for them. You’re here to win a championship and you really want to win a championship and we all gonna follow you.

“And so far, he be doing a great job on that. He been communicating with everybody, he be coming earlier for his work, staying [late]. This is something really new I see from Kawhi. I remember the last time I was in Toronto, I see Kawhi coming in early and put some work and stay after practice and so far this year, he be doing that. So that’s something you want to see from your best player.”

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NEXT UP
Tuesday vs. Minnesota

When: 7 p.m.

On the air: Prime Ticket. Radio: 570

Update: Both the Timberwolves (2-1) and Clippers (2-1) are coming off losses Sunday by at least 40 points. Minnesota will play without center Karl-Anthony Towns because of a dislocated left wrist that will keep the centerpiece of Minnesota’s lineup out for an indefinite period. … Anthony Edwards, the No. 1 draft pick last month, has averaged 16.0 points on 42% shooting with 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists through three games.

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The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers both revamped their rosters during the offseason. Which team has the better closing unit?
Throughout the 2020 season, Frank Vogel was a defensive wizard on the sidelines for the Purple and Gold. Still, he also excelled in the way he managed the Los Angeles Lakers during crunchtime situations. Vogel didn’t stubbornly rely on one closing unit like many of his contemporaries. Instead, he was fluid with his fourth quarter lineups.

Thus, we can’t definitively say which five Lakers players will close games for the Purple and Gold. However, we can choose the best overall five-man lineup at Frank Vogel’s disposal, the one he should use against the Clippers.

The Lakers probable closing unit:

PG: Dennis Schröder
SG: Alex Caruso
SF: LeBron James
PF: Cheap Montrezl Harrell Jersey
C: Anthony Davis
The only question mark in this closing lineup is Alex Caruso over Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at the shooting guard position. KCP recently signed a three-year, $40 million deal with the Lakers, so perhaps you think he’ll close more games than Alex Caruso.

You could be right, but he’s not capable of slowing down high scoring wings like CJ McCollum, James Harden, Paul George, or Donovan Mitchell, to name a few. Frank Vogel will likely swap KCP’s better outside stroke for Caruso’s stopping power.

The Clippers are easier to read. Tyronn Lue will almost always close with this five-man lineup:

PG: Patrick Beverly
SG: Paul George
SF: Cheap Kawhi Leonard Jersey
PF: Cheap Marcus Morris Jersey
C: Cheap Serge Ibaka Jersey
Next, we’ll compare the Lakers’ closing five versus the Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard said he loves the challenge of bouncing back from the LA Clippers’ stunning 3-1 NBA playoff series collapse to the Denver Nuggets and will see “how strong” the Clippers are.

As the Clippers prepare to start training camp Sunday, Leonard and Cheap Paul George Jersey  discussed the team’s failure to live up to championship expectations last season and how motivated they are to wash away the bitter taste of their bubble collapse.

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“Physically, I feel good,” Leonard said Friday. “I am motivated. I want to start, I want to get back after it. It does leave a bad taste in your mouth blowing a 3-1 lead. But I love it. These are things that build the player. It’s the things that I like, the challenge. The road of going to a championship is hard. I love the process.”

“We’ll see how strong we are and if we can build from things like this. That is what makes players.”

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The Clippers believe that having Leonard and George healthy and participating from the start of training camp this season will make a difference after their chemistry struggles last season. Leonard revealed for the first time that he underwent an unspecified procedure during the offseason in 2019 and that that is why he and George, who was coming off offseason shoulder surgeries, were not able to fully participate in camp last preseason.

George said “I wasn’t myself” during his first season with the Clippers but said he feels much more comfortable after being able to train this offseason.

“Last year was an unacceptable year for me, and I know that,” said George, who averaged 20.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 39.8% shooting in the playoffs. “[This season] I feel really good, in a great place.”

George, who is eligible for a contract extension, said he hopes to retire as a Clipper.

“I’m committed, I’m here,” the 30-year-old said. “I want to be here. I want to retire a Clipper. I’ll say that, every year.”

George also sought to clarify comments he made earlier this week on the “All The Smoke” podcast, in which he discussed how he was utilized by former coach Doc Rivers and how the Clippers failed to make any adjustments as Denver came back from a 3-1 second-round series deficit.

“We all take responsibility into that,” George said. “Being one of the top players on the team … I wasn’t playing well enough. The fact that I gave up a 3-1 series [lead] being on that floor sits with me and haunts me.”

“Doc is a hell of a motivator, a hell of a coach,” George added. “Doesn’t mean I agree with everything that we did, but that does not belittle the fact that I respect him. … I did want to clear it up, because the notion out there is that I don’t respect Doc and putting the blame on Doc, which is not the case. I am to blame in that situation just as much as anyone.”

George said he and Leonard, 29, want to make sure there is a “winning attitude” and “winning environment” this season. They have been talking to new coach Ty Lue and are eager to get started. And while Leonard knows returning to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be challenging, he said he hopes the team can bond and improve its chemistry after a season that was disrupted by injuries and off-the-court circumstances.

Leonard also said he will continue to lead the team the same way he did last season, with his play and by taking action when needed, like calling players-only film sessions as he did at one point.

“A coach can’t put a battery in your back and tell you to play harder to go win games,” Leonard said. “You have to have the mindset.”

Leonard added: “But my leadership role isn’t going to change. I’m just going to keep doing the same thing I’ve been doing.”