Home Los Angeles News Clippers’ Tyronn Lue weighing how best to juggle backcourt minutes

Clippers’ Tyronn Lue weighing how best to juggle backcourt minutes

Clippers’ Tyronn Lue weighing how best to juggle backcourt minutes

Even before adding a future Hall of Famer to the mix, Coach Tyronn Lue faced the challenge of finding minutes for the amount of talent on the Clippers roster. Now, with Russell Westbrook on the team, Lue’s job has gotten more complicated, and it didn’t take long.

It’s a situation Lue will continue to face in the Clippers’ final 19 regular-season games, including Tuesday’s home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and beyond.

Two games after the team signed Westbrook, Lue had to choose between playing the former league MVP point guard down the stretch and into overtime against Denver on Sunday or Bones Hyland, an energetic second-year player. Or journeyman Eric Gordon.

And what about Terance Mann, who had performed solidly starting in a non-point guard role? Where does he fit in?

In the 134-124 overtime loss to Denver, Westbrook didn’t play a minute in the fourth quarter or the overtime, despite having scored 17 points, shot 60% from the field with only two turnovers and five steals in 25 minutes. Instead, Mann was on the floor during those minutes with brief stints by Hyland and Gordon.

In the 176-175 double-overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday, Lue sat Mann in favor of Westbrook down late in the fourth quarter and the overtime periods.

“He (Westbrook) pulled out a lot of games in his career, you know, and so I thought what hurt us was their ball pressure, getting up the floor, picking up full court,” Lue said about Westbrook’s play. “Keeping him in the game and on the floor to initiate because the pressure doesn’t bother him. I thought that was key for us.”

After the Kings game, Lue admitted that he probably should have played Mann more than 18 minutes.

“He was good. He should have played more,” said Lue, while acknowledging that someone else would see their playing time decrease.

“We all are just trying to figure it out. I know what T-Mann brings to the team,” Lue said. “Just trying to learn some things about the newer guys and just trying to put some different pieces together and see how it looks.

“I had a talk with T-Mann so he understands, but probably should have him on the floor a little bit more, but that’s a learning experience for me as well.”

Lue’s learning curve now includes having Westbrook share the ball-handling duties with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard without him losing his focus and playing outside of his game, which could lead to turnovers and wild shots.

“We just have to make sure we keep him engaged in the game,” Lue said after the Denver loss. “He only had five shots at halftime, you know, so in the third quarter we wanted to come out and try to get him going together.”

Lue understands that each player wants to be on the floor as much as possible, but they are going to sacrifice their minutes at times for the team to be successful.

“They wouldn’t be where they are today if they weren’t competitors who want to compete,” Lue said. “We have a lot of good players and so every night is not going to be their night, so they have to understand that, and we have to understand that and whatever it takes to win is what we got to do.

“It’s just tough juggling all the good players right now, but we’ll get it down.”