In the far corner of the other team’s locker room, Clippers player Terance Mann was seated in a chair with his head in his hands. A few steps to his left, point guard Reggie Jackson, still wearing his blue suit a half hour after the final bell had finally put a stop to a night where not much had gone right, cast a thousand-yard gaze in the direction of the future. The Clippers lost to the Thunder. USA TODAY)
The Clippers knew going into this season that it would take time for them to reach their full potential as they gradually reintroduced Kawhi Leonard and John Wall into what will eventually be regular rotation roles following their extended basketball absences.
They surely never anticipated playing as poorly as they did at moments during Tuesday’s 108-94 loss in Oklahoma City against a previously winless team that could not shoot, even with those moderated short-term expectations.
The Clippers lose to Thunder. USA TODAY
The Clippers didn’t bury one another afterward. Tyronn Lue, the team’s coach, criticized the team’s execution but not their effort. Jackson stated his personal performance was “hurting us right now” after a 2-2 start, but added that “we don’t want to peak till the end of the season, anyhow.” Nicolas Batum, who has played in 15 NBA seasons and has seen practically everything, advocated for perspective.
The fanbase, calm down, he urged. “We love the support, but we realize it’s not easy, and seeing a game like that isn’t cool. But we’ll be OK.”
However, the loss highlighted the key issue they confront in the early going of this season – how to develop on-court camaraderie while their rotations stay flexible as Leonard and Wall continue to adjust.
In the right knee, he had surgery 16 months ago to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, Leonard felt discomfort after the team’s morning shootaround. That process is still happening. Marcus Morris Sr., the Clippers’ primary forward, was also absent. who will miss Thursday’s game against the Thunder (1-3) due to personal obligations as well as starting wing Paul George, who was unwell. George’s potential availability for Thursday’s rematch remained unknown to Lue.
According to Lue, Leonard wanted to play on Tuesday, but “we want to be cautious, make sure we’re doing the right thing by him,” so he will travel back to Los Angeles on Wednesday to complete his rehabilitation. Leonard “can be furious at us if he wants to, but just not smart right now,” Lue continued.
A road trip that combines the demands of academics and athletics is an exact science for college sports teams. The Rainbow Warriors hold doctoral degrees in the subject. Hawaii athletic programs serve as a relevant case study for UCLA and USC, who will be eligible for an upgrade to their frequent-flier status after they join the Big Ten League in 2024. Hawaii athletic programs travel six hours one way to play their closest conference opponents every other week.
The Trojans and Bruins will have a five-hour trip to either Maryland or Rutgers, the two furthest extremities of the Big Ten, similar to their island counterparts. The same three-hour time shift that Hawaii teams encounter when traveling to California applies to visiting eight of the 14 current Big Ten members.
There are many different and intricate ways to rule the skies. Mylana Byrd, a volleyball player, sleeps on airplanes by packing a tiny neck pillow and a blanket to shield her eyes in case the cabin lights up unexpectedly. The men’s basketball team’s Kamaka Hepa, a forward, consumes a lot of anime, tries to sleep for at least three hours on each trip, and is always willing to haggle with coaches to secure a seat with extra legroom to fit his 6-foot-10 stature.
Dominic Drury, the director of operations for the Hawaii men’s basketball team, kept things straightforward while discussing the forthcoming movements by UCLA and USC.
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