The LA Clippers fell to the Sacramento Kings 113-98 in their second pre-season matchup of the year. As expected, head coach Ty Lue did not play any of his starters beyond the first half; however, fans got a good look at the team's regulars during those first 24 minutes.
The Clippers started Reggie Jackson, Eric Bledsoe, Paul George, Nicolas Batum, and Ivica Zubac, and each starter played between 14-16 minutes. Reggie Jackson and Paul George lead the starting unit with each scoring nine points, but Eric Bledsoe was the starter who stood out the most.
While Bledsoe only scored once, his playmaking was exactly what the team hoped it would be when they traded for him. In just 16 minutes, Bledsoe dished out a team-high four assists. Bledsoe's ability to penetrate the paint and collapse the defense opened up opportunities to find open scorers, and that is exactly what he did.
When asked about Bledsoe's performance, head coach Ty Lue said his defense is the primary asset he brings to the team, but his tempo and ability to create open shots for others is something that has already stood out. Coach Lue mentioned Ivica Zubac as one of the primary beneficiaries of Bledsoe's playmaking, and that was certainly on display in this matchup.
After a promising first half from the starters, the Clippers opened the second half with an entire unit of bench players, and that is when the game began slipping away. The Clippers entered halftime tied, but lost the third quarter 38-17. The Clippers' young trio of Keon Johnson, Jay Scrubb, and Brandon Boston Jr. went a combined 3/16 from the field in that 3rd quarter alone.
On the other side, the Sacramento Kings got some impressive production from their young talent. Rookie guard Davion Mitchell poured in 13 points on 5/9 shooting, while 3rd-year guard Terance Davis added 15 points in just 14 minutes. This production from the Kings' youth was in addition to the 23 points they got from star point guard De'Aron Fox.
While the Clippers' struggles in the third quarter were ultimately too much to overcome, the team's young talent showed some fight in the final frame. Brandon Boston Jr. was especially impressive, finishing with 20 PTS and 7 REB. Moses Wright was once again solid, adding 7 PTS and 5 REB in just 12 minutes of play. After losing the third quarter by 21 points, the Clippers won the final frame 30-24.
When asked about his Brandon Boston Jr., Clippers veteran Nicolas Batum joked and said, "19 shots in 24 minutes? Not bad." On a more serious note, Batum went on to praise Boston's confidence and said it is good to have young players like him. Batum concluded by saying, "He is doing great."
A bright spot amidst the Clippers' struggles, was the play of Terance Mann. Understanding that he will have an increased role this season, Mann came off the bench looking to score. In 17 minutes of play, Mann poured in 11 points on 4/6 from the field. This performance from Mann came just two days after he lead the Clippers to a comeback win in their pre-season opener with 12 points in the fourth quarter alone.
When asked postgame about the recent NBA GM survey that listed him as one of the league's most likely breakout candidates, Terance Mann said, "You said GMs? The ones that that didn't draft me? I don't care about that." The Clippers rising star clearly has a chip on his shoulder from being passed on by every team, and looks ready to prove them wrong once again this season.
The Clippers will play two more pre-season games, with their next exhibition matchup coming on Friday at 5:30 against the Dallas Mavericks.