Leaving the Target Center court late Friday night in Minnesota, Ivica Zubak headed to the makeshift gym under the stands and began his post-match climb.
However, the weight had already been lifted even before he even touched the kettlebell after a 104-84 win, which is the Clippers’ third consecutive victory.
“I didn’t start the season the way I wanted to,” he said.
Zubac finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and his defense kicked off the Clippers’ first 20-point rally since 2019. This inspired teammate Paul George to deliver a motivational message to the seven-foot Croatian center.
“There is no turning back from now on,” said George. “You get the bounce and rip it off. I don’t care if you hurt anyone in the process. You will rip this ball up and it will become your owner. You saw it tonight.
“… He owned his space and he dominated the boards, so I was very proud of him.”
It was the game the Clippers and Zubak have been looking forward to since the season began two weeks ago, which he said was influenced by the physical improvement following June’s knee injury and the need to defend on the sidelines without creating a foul. … In his own way, he shed light on another Clipper awaiting his breakthrough: when is Eric Bledsoe’s turn?
The 31-year-old starting guard was acquired in an August deal that saw Patrick Beverly, Rajon Rondo and Daniel Outuru travel to Memphis to ensure the integrity of the defense with his ability to reach the ring and his defense. In fact, the Clippers play faster when Bledsoe is seated, but coach Tyrone Liu’s eye test shows that Bledsoe went through these areas to keep him comfortable in the starting squad. Liu usually prefers to wait 10 to 15 games before starting the season before changing the roster.
“Last year, we were the last in the league, pretty much in terms of pace,” Liu said. “And now we are at the top of the league in terms of pace. Bled brings a pace to our team that allows the guys to break away from the shots. But I also think that being able to defend against him against the best striker on the perimeter really saves PG for him, and he can defend the best player every night. “
However, the eye and statistical test also exposed Bledsoe’s offensive struggles. The Clippers lose 21 points per 100 possession when playing against when sitting.
Its turnover rate is the highest in six seasons, and its assists-to-turnover ratio is at its lowest in four seasons. The 33% career three-point shooter was added to customize his knockdown shooter teammates – you don’t have to be yourself. However, in 17 catch and throw opportunities from a three-point distance, he made three throws. He got 0 out of 8 for three-point pull-ups.
George, explaining that his own transition to the Clippers in 2019 was not smooth, preached patience.
“I don’t think people understand how difficult it is for someone to get into the new system, and he is expected to play a big role and bring, you know, what he is good at,” said George. “It’s hard to find yourself, find your way.”
There were moments on Friday when it looked like Bledsoe. While winning seemed like two very different games to the Clippers, it was especially so for Bledsoe. In 16 minutes of the first half, the Clippers lost 20 points.
In the third quarter, when he appeared to be the anchor of the attack, he became his mover. His downtime pass to Reggie Jackson cut the deficit from 20 points to one, and on his next possession Bledsoe found himself in the rosette pass zone and made two free throws with an aggressive attack to give the Clippers (4-4). one point advantage.
On his next possession, Bledsoe intercepted the transmission in the air. Bledsoe made only one of his six shots in the third quarter, but that was at odds with the pace he pushed away from Minnesota’s misses.
“You’ve seen glimpses of where we can be most effective with Bled,” George said. “Where he can get it, he can use his speed, his ability to put pressure on the team to make it run back, load. I think … he’s starting to find his way through it.
“But you know, again, we all love it when Blitz was on the floor with us. He brings so much. I don’t care about his shooting. I don’t care if he fights. He does what is not visible on the scoreboard. “
When: 18:00, Sunday
On air: TV: Bally Sports; Radio: 570, 1220
Update: The Hornets lose 30 points to Sacramento, making them 5-5 and three in a row. Point guard LaMelo Ball has the second highest loss score this season with 51. His 19.9 points per game is second to Miles Bridges with 22.7 points per game.