Clippers’ play-after-the-play philosophy paying off from 3-point range – Press Enterprise

All season, the Clippers’ opponents have felt the heat from 3-point range.

Tyronn Lue’s squad continues to be the NBA’s best-shooting team – 41.7% – from behind the arc. That’s not so far off the 1996-97 Charlotte Hornets’ record rate of 42.8%. Seven Clippers regulars are shooting better than 40% from behind the arc.

To his stars goes the credit, Lue said, expressing appreciation for Paul George (who is one of the seven, shooting a career-best 42.1% from deep) and Kawhi Leonard (just 39.6%) for buying into the play-after-the-play way that Lue preaches.

“We run any play – Kawhi, PG, Marcus (Morris Sr.), whoever we run it for – but once the ball’s in their hands and teams double-team or they make a move and teams help, they gotta be able to make the right play and that turn into drive-and-kick or drive-kick-swing-get-it-to-the-paint,” Lue said. “Make a play for your teammates.”

Just like Lue drew it up before the season began.

Those “play-after-the-play” sequences include those in which the Clippers might, say, dump a pass inside to Leonard. Plenty often, the All-Star forward will attract a second defender, so he’ll give up the ball back to Reggie Jackson on the perimeter. Then it’s on Jackson to quickly swing a pass to, say, George, who might swing it again, to a wide-open Patrick Patterson – just add water: Splash.

The Clippers are shooting an NBA-best 44.7% on 3-pointers taken with the closest defender 6 feet or further, and they get nearly 16 of those looks per game.

“I’ve always been a big fan of just playing through our best offensive players, and then those guys making plays for everybody else,” Lue said during the preseason. “We run a play for Kawhi or PG, Lou (Williams), any of our guys, Luke (Kennard), Marcus, that if we don’t have it and they make a pass out of the play, then we’re gonna continue to keep playing without getting stuck and getting stagnant. So that’s been our main focus the last three or four days of just teach us how to play after the play and guy’s are doing a good job of picking that up.”

And the Clippers have gotten better at it since, though it took half of the season to dial it in. So said Lue before practice Saturday, when the Clippers prepared for Sunday’s matinee against the surprisingly successful New York Knicks, the last regular-season home game this season.

“I feel like at the beginning of the season, we kind of struggled, trying to figure out what we wanted and how we wanted to play and the style we wanted to play,” Lue said.  “(Leonard and George) had to figure out when to get to a mid-range pull-up, when to attack the basket, when to make the play for their teammates.


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