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    Clippers head into preseason finale with plenty of room for improvement
    • October 18, 2023

    The Clippers have one more preseason game to work out the kinks, decide on a starting power forward, smooth out the offense, especially from the second unit, and just plain get it right.

    The regular season starts in a week, with a home game against the Portland Trailblazers, and as Tuesday’s 116-103 victory over a team of Denver Nuggets backups showed, there is room for improvement. The Clippers face some version of the Nuggets again in Thursday night’s preseason finale at Arena.

    Turnovers were a nagging problem last year that cost the Clippers several games. Against the Nuggets on Tuesday, they turned the ball over 16 times, which led to 22 Denver points. Not alarming in the bigger picture, but the double-digit miscues came against the Nuggets’ reserves with the core of their rotation sitting out.

    “I feel like our turnovers are so careless,” said Clippers backup point guard Bones Hyland, who contributed three turnovers. “It’s not really pressure turnovers, it’s like careless turnovers. We can clean that up a little bit more. But other than that, I think we are pretty good at executing too, a little bit.”

    Coach Tyronn Lue has increased the intensity of practices, clamping down on the need to get faster with daily runs and speed drills. Behind the playing of point guards Russell Westbrook and Hyland, he hopes to push the pace this season.

    Hyland said the increased tempo doesn’t always lead to turnovers. He said it’s a matter of understanding the game plan and protecting the ball.

    Lue didn’t seem as bothered by the turnovers and was more concerned with the team’s ability to score transition baskets. Against the Nuggets’ role players, they converted on seven of 10 fast-break opportunities.

    “We know Russ and Bones are going to push it,” Lue said. “We just got to get our wings to run and follow suit as well as (center) Zu (Ivica Zubac) running, getting easy duck-ins getting down the floor early so it’s collective.

    “It’s not just on Bones and Russ, it’s our whole team just having that mindset and taking that approach. We got to get better with that and then when we do run and we actually get out in transition, we got to do a better job of converting.”

    Lue praised his starters after a slow start in Tuesday’s game.

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    “I thought (the starters were) better when they came in in that second stint,” he said. “They did a better job, but it’s hard to assess a game like this. Pretty tough. But I thought when they came in for that second stretch, the starters did a better job defensively.”

    Despite the flaws, Lue said that unlike the past, he is willing to be patient in developing a consistent lineup, especially when it comes to the power forward position. Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington and Terance Mann have been auditioning for that job, with each having started a preseason game.

    “As long as the consistency is PG (Paul George) and Kawhi (Leonard) out there on the floor,” he said. “I mean, we’ll see. I’ve changed. I’ve evolved. So, we’ll see. Like I said, we always had that 10-, 15-game sample size of kind of seeing what works and, like I said, all three of those guys have done a great job so far. So, we’ll see going forward.”


    When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

    Where: Arena

    TV/radio: KTLA (Ch.5), 570 AM

    ​ Orange County Register