Clippers’ Frank on Mann: ‘We want him to be a big part of our future’

The Los Angeles Clippers have signed Terance Mann to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced on Tuesday.

According to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, it’s a two-year, $22 million contract extension.

Last season, Mann set career highs in points (7.0), rebounds (3.6), assists (1.6), and FG% (50.9). The second-year G/F also appeared in 19 playoff games in 2021, averaging 7.6 points and 2.7 rebounds while shooting 51.9% from the field.

In Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, Mann became the first player in franchise history to score at least 20 points in a postseason quarter, finishing with 39 and sparking the Clippers to their first conference finals appearance.

“Terance personifies many of the qualities we value,” said Lawrence Frank, Clippers president of basketball operations. “He is a giving teammate and an unrelenting worker who improves himself and those around him every day. In only two seasons, we’ve watched him grow from a second-round pick to a key contributor on a playoff team. We want him to be a big part of our future, and we’re glad he wants the same. We’re thrilled for Terance and excited for what’s to come.”

Originally selected by the Clippers with the 48th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the 24-year-old Mann owns career averages of 5.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 108 appearances.

Clippers acquire Eric Bledsoe from Memphis

The Los Angeles Clippers wanted to upgrade the guard spot, and they are hoping they’ve done just that. Los Angeles acquired Eric Bledsoe from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo, and Daniel Oturu, the team announced on Monday.

“We are excited to add Eric, a strong, versatile guard and an established playmaker who can attack the paint and defend multiple positions,” said Clippers president of basketball operations, Lawrence Frank. “Eric started his career with the Clippers, and we’re delighted to bring him back.” 

Bledsoe, who the Pelicans traded to the Grizzlies in early August, returns to the Clippers after starting his career with the team. Last season, the 31-year-old averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists for New Orleans.

Beverley, 33, appeared in 177 games over the last four seasons with the Clippers; last season, he averaged 7.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per contest. Beverley is a big-time defender and has been named to three All-Defensive teams in his career.

Rondo, 35, averaged 7.6 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in 18 games with Los Angeles. The 6-foot-1 guard, who is a two-time NBA champion and four-time All-Star, came to the Clippers last December in the deal that sent Lou Williams to Atlanta. 

Oturu, 21, appeared in 30 games for the Clippers last season, averaging 1.8 points and 1.6 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 center played two seasons at the University of Minnesota.

For the Clippers, you get an athletic guard in Bledsoe, who is a decent scorer and solid defender. Regarding the Grizzlies, they are a young team, and adding veterans like Rondo and Beverley could be good, but they probably won’t keep both, so don’t be surprised if Rondo is re-routed elsewhere.

Clips’ Frank: ‘Kawhi(Leonard) is a transcendent player and a relentless worker who improves himself every day’

The Los Angeles Clippers have officially re-signed free agent Kawhi Leonard, the team announced on Thursday.

According to Yahoo’s Chris B. Haynes, it’s a four-year contract that includes a player option worth a reported $176 million.

The 10-year veteran became a free agent after he opted out of his deal earlier this month.

“Kawhi is a transcendent player and a relentless worker who improves himself every day,” said Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank. “We share many of the same goals, which include a long-term relationship. This agreement marks another important moment for our franchise and our fans, as we strive to create a championship-caliber organization where players find the success and fulfillment they seek. We’re eager to continue building with Kawhi. For now, we will do whatever we can to support him in his recovery from injury. We look forward to seeing him back where he wants to be, on the court with his teammates.” 

Leonard, who averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.5 steals, missed all of the Western Conference finals due to a partially torn right ACL that he suffered against the Jazz in the second round.

The 30-year-old Leonard signed with the Clippers as a free agent after winning a championship with the Raptors in 2019.

Getting the five-time All-Star back is huge for the Clippers. If Leonard was healthy, Los Angeles might have won a championship last season, so with Leonard back, expect Los Angeles to be a championship contender next season.

Clips’ Cousins on George: ‘I said earlier in the year, that’s one of the most special players to ever lace his shoes up’

At times in the playoffs, Clippers F Paul George has gotten a lot of heat for some of his performances. However, he silenced many people with his performance in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on Monday night.

George scored a playoff career-high 41 points on 15-20 shooting (3-of-6 3FG) to go along with a game-high 13 rebounds and team-high six assists as the Clippers avoided elimination and defeated the Suns 116-102.

The Suns lead the series 3-2. Game 6 is on Wednesday night at Staples Center

George, who scored 20 points(7-8 shooting, 3-3 3FG) in the third quarter, has scored 20-plus points in all 18 of the Clippers’ games this postseason.

According to ESPN Stats & Info and Elias Sports, George is the fourth player(LeBron James, Patrick Ewing, and Wilt Chamberlain) all-time with 40 points, 10 rebounds, and 70% shooting when facing elimination.

George never seems to get the credit he deserves, and when asked if he feels he gets picked on, George said the following:

“I do. And it’s the honest truth. It’s a fact,” George said. “But I can’t worry about that. It comes with the job, I guess. But it is what it is. I still try to go and dominate, whether I’m shooting the ball well or not shooting the ball well. I still try to dominate, just the whole game in general. To me, it doesn’t come down to just scoring. It’s just being able to play both ends, rebound, and make plays for others. And so I’m beyond that. I’m beyond that. I am who I am. I wish I could shoot 80 percent, 75 percent, on a nightly basis, but it’s not realistic… They can judge me on what they want to. That part don’t matter to me. I’m going to go out there and hoop and give it everything I got.”

DeMarcus Cousins, who scored 15 points in 11 minutes off the bench on Monday, thinks it’s ridiculous how people talk negatively about George.

“I don’t know where this trolling bull—- has come from where the internet controls the narratives about these players,” Cousins said. “It’s becoming foolish, man. Like I said earlier in the year, that’s one of the most special players to ever lace his shoes up. Give this dude his flowers, man. I don’t understand the slander. It’s becoming quite silly now. Respect these players, man. Respect these greats.”

Despite the loss, Chris Paul, who had 22 points and eight assists in Game 5, remains confident.

We know we’ll go in there, a place where we won last time,” Paul said. “We know they’re going to be excited and ready to go, so we’ll be ready,” 

If it has not been clear by now, it should be clear to everybody that the Clippers won’t be easy to eliminate. Even without Kawhi Leonard(sprained knee) and Ivica Zubac(MCL sprain), Los Angeles keeps finding ways. 

Now, the pressure is on the Suns, and if you’re Phoenix, you don’t want to be in a position where you have to play a Game 7, so they want to end this series in Game 6.

Notes:

-Devin Booker scored a team-high 31 points tonight to go along with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Booker finished 9-of-22 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range. Tonight marked Booker’s seventh 30+ point game of the postseason, as he’s now averaging 37.3 points in three possible closeout games these playoffs.

-In the Suns’ three closeout opportunities this season, Devin Booker has totaled 112 points. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the 6th-most points by any player through his team’s first three closeout opportunities of a postseason.

MOST POINTS SCORED BY A PLAYER THROUGH TEAM’S FIRST THREE CLOSEOUT GAMES OF A POSTSEASON

Year              Player                                        Total Points
1989       Michael Jordan                               132
1962       Wilt Chamberlin                             125
1988       Michael Jordan                                121
1962       Elgin Baylor                                     120
1992       Michael Jordan                                119
2021       Devin Booker                                   112

-Reggie Jackson reached 20-plus points tonight for the third-straight game tonight and ninth time this postseason, scoring 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting (4-of-7 3FG). Jackson added 5 rebounds and 3 assists for the Clippers.

-Marcus Morris Sr. scored 22 points for the Clippers tonight, his fourth 20- point game of this postseason, and the most he’s scored in this series.

Suns’ Ayton: ‘My teammates are really relentless’

The Phoenix Suns are about to do the improbable. The Suns are one win away from getting to the NBA Finals after defeating the Clippers 84-80 in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Saturday night at Staples Center.

This was a ’90s style playoff game as both teams went cold in the fourth quarter. The two teams combined for 29 points in the fourth. Phoenix shot 21% from the floor in the final period, while the Clippers were held to 16% shooting. After the Clippers cut the lead to 71-70 following a Paul George free-throw with just over ten minutes left, the two teams did not score for over three minutes. Los Angeles cut the lead to one on several occasions but could not get over the hump.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Clippers shot 0-12 in the 4th quarter on shots that could’ve tied the game or taken the lead. That’s the most such attempts without a make in the 4th quarter of a game over the last 25 postseasons.

“I think it was an ugly game from beginning to end, honestly,” Devin Booker, who led the Suns with 25 points before fouling out in the fourth, said after the game. “if you’re talking from a scoring aspect, but we dug in and got stops, and it’s the playoffs – any way you can come out with one.”

Deandre Ayton, who scored 19 points and grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds, was happy with the way Phoenix stayed together during the team’s cold spell in Game 4.

“My teammates are really relentless,” he said. “We have a thing on the team where something called togetherness, and we play as a unit, we come together, and we just fight over adversity and fight over fatigue. Our mental stamina was there today, and we did a good job of that.”

Now, it’s time for Phoenix to focus on Game 5(Monday night), where they have an opportunity to get to the NBA Finals in front of their home fans. If they can get it done in Game 5, Phoenix will make it to the Finals for the first time in 28 years.

Chris Paul was one win away from the Finals back in 2018 with the Rockets before losing to the Warriors in 7, and he knows that the job is not done until you get four wins.

“Three wins don’t win the series,” Paul, who 18 points and seven assists, said postgame. “So, right now, we did what we came here to do, we wanted to get one of these, and now we got to stay focused and be ready to go back to our crowd.”

The Clippers have battled back this whole playoff run, so they’re not done until the Suns win four games. However, without Kawhi Leonard(missed sixth straight game with knee sprain), it appears the Clippers may have finally run out of gas. We’ll see what they have in Game 5.

Notes:

-Paul George led the Clippers with 23 points, 16 rebounds, and six assists on Saturday night before fouling out late in the game, and Reggie Jackson added 20 points.

-Suns’ Booker got rid of the mask he uses to protect his broken nose in the third quarter. After the game, he explained why.

“I just I think I took it off after I missed a layup,” he said about the mask. “I said after the game if I get hit again, which you don’t realize how much you get hit in the face until you take it off. But I can get surgery after the season. I’m not blaming anything on the mask, but I haven’t played basketball with a mask ever in my life. So it takes some getting used to, and at that point in that time, I didn’t want it.”

Ayton on game-winning dunk: ‘I wasn’t too sure if it counted; I didn’t want it to be a blooper or none of that’

With 8.2 seconds left and the Suns trailing the Clippers 103-102 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, Paul George, who led Los Angeles with 26 points, had a chance to put the Clippers up by three, but he missed both free throws.

After Mikal Bridges missed a corner three and ball went out of bounds off the Clippers, it appeared Phoenix’s eight-game postseason winning streak was about to end.

However, something amazing happened with 0.9 seconds left. Jae Crowder threw a beautiful lob pass from underneath the basket to Deandre Ayton, who dunked the ball to give the Suns a 104-103 victory over the Clippers at Phoenix Suns Arena on Tuesday night.

Phoenix has a 2-0 series lead, with Game 3 on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Cameron Payne, who got his second straight start due to Chris Paul(health and safety protocols) being out, led the Suns with a career-high 29 points and nine assists with zero turnovers, and Devin Booker added 20 points.

The Suns extended their postseason win streak to a franchise-record nine consecutive wins. It ties for the 10th-longest win streak in NBA playoff history. Phoenix is 10-2 this postseason and has not dropped a game since Game 3 against the Lakers on May 27.

Ayton, who recorded his 8th double-double of the postseason with 24 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, gave all the credit to Crowder.

“Well, I’ll start off by saying that’s definitely Jae’s (Crowder) game-winner, making a great pass for a seven-footer,” Ayton said after the game. “Other than that, Coach drew up a great play where I was in the best position. My teammates trust me and my coaches trust me, and Book(Devin Booker) set a great screen that freed me up into the lane to at least gather my feet and go for the ball, and the rest is just off my athleticism and my talent. Jae set it up right there perfectly.”

Suns head coach Monty Williams added: “Credit to Jae, we were trying to get a lob for DA, and he had the awareness to put it up there where DA could only get it. Book sets a great screen, Jae makes a great pass. It’s just one of those things that happens where you’re just grateful for.”

According to Ayton, this was the best play of his career.

“I wasn’t too sure if it counted,” Ayton said. “I didn’t want it to be a blooper or none of that. I just wanted to get to the next play, or the refs confirm what it is. I was just so anxious. I was really stressed. It was a lot. I’m looking at the fans; I’m looking at the environment. It was a lot, but that was my best play, and I tried to embrace it.”

The Clippers have been in this spot before. Los Angeles has been down 0-2 in every series in these playoffs, and according to Patrick Beverley, who got the start in Game 2, the Clippers will find a way to get back into this series.

“I don’t think you like to start two games in the hole,” he said. “I don’t think that’s our plan. This game, I’ve played a lot of games in this league, this one’s hard. This one goes up there. This is a hard game to kind of swallow because you look at this game, I mean, we got this game won, you know. But we’ve been in the trenches before. We respond well in the trenches. We’ll respond well. We always do.”

This series is not over because we know how resilient the Clippers have been in the playoffs, but they will have to make up another 0-2 deficit, and they will probably have to do it without Kawhi Leonard, who missed his third straight game with a sprained knee.

With the possibility of Paul coming back in this series, Phoenix has the advantage. However, Los Angeles has been here before. Let’s see if it matters going forward.

Notes:

-Cam Johnson scored 11 points off the bench in 24 minutes of action tonight. Johnson has scored in double figures in both  games against the Clippers this series after scoring 10-plus points just three times in Phoenix’s first 10 games this postseason. 

-Dario Saric scored 11 points tonight, the most points he’s scored this postseason. Saric added 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 13  minutes of action off the bench.  

-After taking a four-point lead into the fourth quarter tonight, the Suns moved to 9-0 this postseason when leading after three quarters of play. The Suns were 41-7 in such games during the regular season.

 

Suns’ Booker on triple-double: ‘It’s very special, but the win feels better’

Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker picked a great time to have his first career triple-double. Booker had a game-high 40 points(29 in the second half) on 15/29 shooting to go along with game-highs in rebounds (13), and assists (11) as the Suns defeated the Clippers at home 120-114 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday.

According to Stathead, it’s the 12th 40-point triple-double in postseason history.

Booker was at his best in the third quarter. He scored 18 in the quarter, including 16 straight points for the Suns. He would add another 11 points in the fourth, and Phoenix had their largest lead of 10 in the final quarter, and they would hold on for the victory.

According to Booker, the triple-double was great, but the winning was even better.

“I mean, it’s very special, but the win feels better,” Booker said. “That’s what I’m out there for the whole entire time. So part of the triple-double is assists, and that’s my teammates making them pay for running and doubling and seeing different types of defenses… So it takes a whole collective team group to get what we got done tonight.”

Both teams came into this game without key players. The Suns are without Chris Paul, who is out due to health and safety protocols, and for the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard is out due to a sprained knee.

Even when not playing, Paul was engaged and talked to his teammates via FaceTime after the game, which Booker discussed.

“He’s our leader,” Booker said about Paul. “We lean on him for a lot and we know how disappointed he is and frustrated is he couldn’t be out here for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, especially knowing his past history around this time. But we know we had him all the way through. We brought him in the locker room. We had him in our after-game huddle. So he’s proud of us. He’s ready to get back. He’s working and we can’t wait to have him.”

The Clippers came off a series-clinching victory over the Jazz on Friday night, so they had a quick turnaround. However, they got a big-time performance out of Paul George, who scored a team-high 34 points. Despite the loss in Game 1, George is confident Los Angeles can bounce back in Game 2. 

“I expect us to get better as the series goes,’ George said. “We’ve been great at it. It’s nothing to kind of panic over right now. You know, we were down Kawhi. We’re playing with a banged-up Marcus(Morris Sr). Yeah, they don’t have Chris Paul either, but it’s a game of adjustments. We’ll figure out what we need to do better. But good thing about it, we expect a long series, and all they did was win one game.”

Without Paul, Booker had to do more, and he did that. Now, if they can get Paul back, things will get even better for the Suns. However, as seen throughout these playoffs, you can never sleep on the Clippers, so expect a better effort in Game 2 on Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Notes:

-The Suns had six players in double-figures. Deandre Ayton had 20 points on 10-of-14 shooting and grabbing 9 rebounds. Ayton has shot over 50 percent from the field in all 11 of the Suns’ playoff games.

-Making his first career postseason start, Cameron Payne just missed out on a double-double, tallying 11 points and a postseason career-high 9 assists.

-Playing in just his third postseason game of this year’s NBA Playoffs, DeMarcus Cousins came off the bench tonight to add 11 points and 4 rebounds for L.A.

-The Suns shot 55.1 percent (49-of-89) from the field tonight, a new playoff high this season, while limiting Los Angeles to 45.5 percent (40-of-88) shooting. It marked the 25th time in franchise history the Suns have shot 55 percent or better from the field in a postseason game, and the first time since May 5, 2006. Phoenix is 21-4 all-time in such games during the playoffs.

Phoenix Suns Post Game interviews:

Clippers’ Ibaka out for postseason after back surgery

LA Clippers center Serge Ibaka underwent back surgery in Los Angeles on Thursday, the team announced on Friday.

According to the team, Ibaka will miss the remainder of the NBA postseason and is expected to make a full recovery. The 31-year-old Ibaka missed 30 games with a back injury. Ibaka played the final two games of the regular season and the first two games of the playoffs but has not played since that time.

The 11-year veteran signed with the Clippers as a free agent in the offseason after spending four seasons in Toronto. Ibaka averaged 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per contest in 41 regular-season games with the Clippers this season.

Mavs’ Carlisle on Doncic: ‘I think he’s proven he’s a top-5 player in the world’

The Dallas Mavericks season ended against the Los Angeles Clippers for the second straight year in the first round of the playoffs. This time, the Mavericks fell to the Clippers in 7 as they lost 126-111 at Staples Center on Sunday.

Despite the loss, the Mavericks did make improvements. Last season, they were the seventh seed in the Western Conference. However, this season, they were the fifth seed in the West. Last season, they lost to the Clippers in the first round in six. This season, they lost to Clippers in seven.

Also, Luka Doncic, who had 46 points, 14 assists, and seven rebounds on Sunday, is becoming one best players in basketball. In the regular season, Doncic, 22, averaged 27.7 points, 8.6 assists, and 8.0 rebounds per game.

However, as the great ones do, they up their game in the playoffs. Doncic averaged 35.7 points, 10.2 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game in this series against the Clippers. Also, according to mavstats, Doncic accounted for 33.7% of Dallas’ points in the series, the highest percentage in any series in Mavs history (previous record: Dirk’s 32.2% vs. DEN in 2009 West Semifinals).

According to his head coach Rick Carlisle, Doncic’s performance in this series solidifies him as a top-five player in the NBA.

“Even before this series started, I think he’s proven he’s a top-5 player in the world,” Carlise said after the game. “This series certainly validates that. And we’ve just got to keep building the team around him…Luka is an amazing player. I don’t think there’s anybody that would dispute that.”

Kawhi Leonard added on Doncic: “Oh, man, you know, he did everything. I don’t know how many 40-point games he had; I believe three, three, or four. You know, shooting it very efficiently from three for sure off the dribble shots. You know, just doing it all for his team. You know he’s a great player, and you’ll see him for many years to come. He plays at his own pace, and he makes it look easy out there.”

Doncic was the best player in this series, and If he continues at this pace, he could very well be the best in the NBA.

Clips’ Leonard on big Game 6 performance: ‘I didn’t want to go home’

For the first time in NBA playoff history, the road team has won the first six games of a series as the Clippers defeated the Mavericks 104-97 in Game 6 at American Airlines Center to even up their best-of-seven first-round series at three.

Both teams have won three straight on the road, and Game 7 is Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles.

The biggest reason we will have a Game 7 is the play of Kawhi Leonard. The two-time NBA Finals MVP led the Clippers with a postseason career-high 46 points on 18-25 shooting, including 5/8 from three-point range. Leonard had 29 points in the second half, including 17 points in the third quarter.

“Like I said, I didn’t want to go home,” Leonard said after the game. “I had to assert myself into the game. My teammates found me. I got some open looks and knocked them down. I just kept going from there. I stayed in trust with my teammates.”

Clippers head coach Ty Lue added on Leonard: “Great players perform in big moments. He was taking the challenge, guarding Luka [Dončić] the whole game. I thought our coverage was great. He played 42 minutes and guarded their best player, who is a hell of a player, for the whole game. That just shows you who Kawhi Leonard is.”

Leonard was a force on Friday night, which Mavs star Luka Doncic, who had 29 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds, and a career-high four steals in Game 6, acknowledged after the game.

“He destroyed us,” Doncic said about Leonard. “That’s what it is. He had a hell of a game. That’s what he does. He had a hell of a game.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle added on Leonard: “The fact that he had the energy offensively to hit those shots down the stretch — the majority of which were very difficult — is something to behold.”

It’s win or go home, and Carlisle expects his team to be ready for Game 7.

“So, we’re headed for Game 7,” he said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for our team. I don’t know if any of the guys in our locker room other than maybe [JJ] Redick have been in a Game 7. We’ll be excited, and we’ll be ready.”

Doncic added: “It is Game 7. It doesn’t matter where you are. You have to leave everything on the court. That’s it. It is Game 7.”

Usually, you favor the home team in a Game 7, but clearly, this is not your typical series and based on how this series has played out, maybe you favor the Mavericks. Who knows, but one thing is sure, it’s probably going to be fun.

Notes:

-Paul George had 20 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks tonight for Los Angeles in Game 6.

-The Mavericks welcomed their largest crowd of the season to American Airlines Center, with 18,324 fans in attendance on Friday night.

-With his father, five-time All-Star Tim Hardaway Sr. in attendance, Tim Hardaway Jr. had 23 points on 9-19 shooting. Hardaway Jr. now has 20+ points in four of the six games in this series.

-Doncic ranks second in the NBA this postseason amongst all scorers with 34.0 ppg, only slightly behind Portland’s Damian Lillard (34.3 ppg).

-Kristaps Porzingis had seven points and five rebounds on Friday night, and despite not being a focal point of the Mavs’ offense, Porzingis is trying to stay positive.

“As you said, I am just trying to make an impact with what I can on the defensive end and helping the team however I can,” he said. “I got decent looks tonight. It is what it is. Sunday is going to be a war, so we have to be prepared.”