LA Clippers Head Coach Tyronn Lue was adamant about his decision to stick with veteran point guard Rajon Rondo down the stretch of Game 1 of the Clippers’ second-round series against the Utah Jazz, which they lost 112-109.
When asked by ClutchPoints’ Tomer Azarly what went into the decision to call on Rondo rather than Patrick Beverley or Terance Mann after starting point guard Reggie Jackson fouled out in the fourth quarter, Lue did not waver.
"It's what I felt was right for our team," he said bluntly.
Lue would go on to talk about LA’s need for a point guard down the stretch, and cited the pace and speed Rondo brought.
Rondo finished the game with five points, six assists and five rebounds in 28 minutes of play. He attempted just three field goals, hitting one of them (a three-pointer). The Jazz were willing to go under on screens with Rondo as the ball-handler, as they knew he would be hesitant to shoot from deep. When Rondo was playing off the ball, his defender would leave him to double the ball-handler for the same reason.
Beverley, another point guard on the Clippers’ roster (though to Lue’s point, not a traditional offensive orchestrator) played six minutes in Game 1. He was 0-3 from the field and did not score, but was a +6 in the short stint he played.
It’s a tough decision, and it’s easy to play armchair coach after the game. However, Beverley is by far the better defender of the two guards, and LA was in dire need of some defense, as Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell went off for 45 points on 16-30 shooting.
Lue played 11 of his players in Game 1. Clearly, it was a bit of a feel-out game for the Clippers, particularly after a stressful seven-game series against the Dallas Mavericks. It will be interesting to see the rotational adjustments Lue makes in Game 2, which tips off on Thursday at 7 p.m.