LOS ANGELES — The Clippers missed a few more pieces on Tuesday night when sophomore Terance Mann was sidelined with a sprained left ankle and Justise Winslow was sidelined for the second time in a row for personal reasons.
Mann was hampered in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls, and he limped noticeably after trying to chase Lonzo Ball into the transition. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Mann’s status will be determined day by day.
Mann has become an important part of what the Clippers do; the 25-year-old from Florida state averages 10.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 29.7 minutes per game during the first 13 games of the season.
“We’re just going to miss his energy I think first, just the way he bounces the basketball, he attacks, the passion he plays with every night,” said Lue, who is already making progress without Kawhi Leonard (ACL). Marcus Morris Sr. (knee) and Serge Ibaka (G League assignment).
Last month, Mann — who broke out for 39 points to lead the Clippers in a second-round close-out game against the best-seeded Utah Jazz in the playoffs, punching LA’s ticket to the Western Conference finals for the first time — a two-year, $22 million contract extension. That deal runs until 2024-25 when he will be 27 years old.
More direct: No Mann? It’s next-man-up, as they say.
“We have to go to our bank,” Lue said. “And we have to get it from someone else tonight. … Amir (Coffey) gets a chance, Brandon (Boston Jr.) gets a chance, Jay Scrubb, guys who have worked hard and prepared for this moment, they are going to have opportunities tonight…
“They had a chance to play lower (in the G League) and get some playing experience and gaming experience, so I’m excited to see what they do tonight and how they play and how they perform.”
In four appearances with the Ontario Agua Caliente Clippers, Boston averaged 13.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists; in two games this season, Scrubb has averaged 16.7 points and in his only G League game so far this season, Coffey shot 7 for 11 and scored 22 points.
While the Clippers are getting younger on the pitch by a night, these 2020-21 Spurs are more inexperienced than most of Gregg Popovich’s squads were – just 25.3 years old, the 11th youngest squad in the league.
And that was pretty fun, said the decorated coach before his team faced the Clippers at Staples Center.
“It always comes down to the competitive and the education part, especially with this group I have this year,” Popovich said. “Obviously it’s a very, very young team and we’re actually starting over. So I want them to get off to a good start developing their games, not just individually, but trying to remember what real mental toughness is, what win games, how you lose games, what the most important factors are. What you owe your teammates and how you are accountable to each other both in competitiveness and performance, so I think the learning part is probably – you feel needed.
“I never said a word to Timmy (Duncan) and Manu (Ginobili) and Tony (Parker), I didn’t coach those guys, I just went to the games, I watched. … These guys need more. And that In that sense, it also makes it more fun for our staff.”
Lue hasn’t had a chance to lead many significantly young squads in his career as a head coach — well, all but one, and just six games before being fired after three consecutive NBA Finals appearances.
“I’ve done it six games in Cleveland,” Lue said with a laugh. “You see where it took me.”