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LOS ANGELES — The Lakers and Clippers will end the season just how it began — with a crosstown matchup at the Staples Center — but this duel comes with six months’ worth of perspective.
When the Clippers topped the Lakers in the season opener in October Authentic Johnny Townsend Jersey , there was plenty of optimism on both sides. The Lakers had just added point guard Lonzo Ball to run the show, while the Clippers rebuilt a roster around Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
The biggest sign that it didn’t quite work according to plan for both teams is that Griffin was traded by the end of January and the Lakers shipped out Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. just over a week later at the trade deadline.
Both moves were made with the future in mind, and since future means seasons beyond this one, Tuesday’s all-Los Angeles matchup will close the door on unfulfilled expectations in Southern California for 2017-18.
Win or lose Tuesday, though, both teams already are optimistic about the future.
The Clippers remained in playoff contention deep into the season before succumbing under the weight of injuries and a daunting schedule. At 42-39, they have the security of knowing they will finish the season above .500 despite those injuries that affected all areas of the roster.
“I think our fans kind of connected with this group more than any group since I have been here,” coach Doc Rivers told the media after Monday’s defeat to the Pelicans. “I think our team and our crowd kind of identified with each other this year.”
The Lakers will not see the .500 mark, since they head into the final contest at 34-47. But a renewed commitment to defense helped them go on a 16-7 run at one stretch after the new year, and a sense of unity surfaced in the second half.
Not only did Julius Randle blossom under coach Luke Walton, so did rookie Kyle Kuzma, who is now expected to weigh heavily in the plans moving forward, along with fellow youngsters Ball and Josh Hart.
“I think we all kind of know that can happen (with) the success we’ve had this year, growing and being a young core Josh Sweat Jersey Eagles ,” Kuzma said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
After moving on from Griffin, the Clippers signed a multi-year deal with scoring machine Lou Williams, who is the team’s leading scorer at 22.6 points per game. Williams will become the second player in NBA history to set a career high in scoring in his 13th season or later (Chauncy Billups).
Williams will also become the first player in NBA history to average more than 20 points for the first time in his career in his 13th season or later. And with a double-double in the finale, Jordan will tie Elton Brand for most double-doubles in team history at 265.
But in a sign of just how prevalent injuries were for the Clippers, they will finish the season with four point guards out of action: Patrick Beverley (knee), Avery Bradley (groin), Milos Teodosic (foot) and Jawun Evans (abdomen). Also out Tuesday is Danilo Gallinari (hand), who missed most of the year with multiple injuries.
Williams (ankle) and Austin Rivers (elbow) did not play Monday but are expected to see action Wednesday.
Ball (knee) and Kuzma (ankle) are listed as day-to-day. Isaiah Thomas (hip) is out, while Brandon Ingram (concussion) is day-to-day.
The fieriness of undrafted rookie running back Phillip Lindsay will be put on the backburner.Not for long, just for now.
The former Colorado standout known as the ”Tasmanian Devil ” for his relentless motor is all ears these days in the Denver Broncos‘ meeting room.
”I have to get in where I fit in. Right now, that’s learning and listening and being quiet,” Lindsay said on the first day of rookie orientation Friday. ”My place is to listen to the veterans and coaches and take what they want and establish it on the football field.”
That also means lining up wherever the Broncos want him to line up. He’s willing to return kickoffs and punts, play special teams Authentic Josh Jackson Jersey , become a situational running back, even line up as a slot receiver.
Anything to make this roster. He’s got a solid chance especially given this: At least one rookie college free agent has made the Broncos’ active roster out of training camp in 13 of the last 14 years, including Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris in 2011.
”I’m just going to showcase everything,” Lindsay said.
Being from Denver, Lindsay gets asked all the time by his fellow rookies about his city. He’s sort of Denver’s first ambassador, along with rookie offensive lineman Sam Jones, who’s a sixth-round pick out of Arizona State and also hails from the Mile High City.
”A lot of times they think (Denver) is just cold,” Lindsay said. ”Now, they get to see it’s dry, it’s hot. It’s beautiful.”
It didn’t take long for Lindsay to have his first welcome-to-pro-football moment by simply walking into the locker room.
”It’s like, `Dang, it’s really here,”’ Lindsay said. ”Now it’s time for me to go and seize the moment.”
While with the Buffaloes, Lindsay was an integral piece of the offense as he recorded back-to-back 1 Dan Bailey Jersey Elite ,000-yard rushing seasons. The 5-foot-8, 190-pound running back brought an edge and intensity to the backfield, but didn’t get selected in the recent draft.
Still, he feels like he landed in a good situation with his hometown team. Lindsay joins a backfield that counts Devontae Booker as its veteran after severing ties with C.J. Anderson. Royce Freeman was drafted in the third round out of Oregon to play a big role as well.
Lindsay and Freeman – two Pac-12 tailbacks Jones saw plenty of while at Arizona State.
”I’m excited to wear the same jersey as him and Phil now, instead of having them run all over our defense,” Jones said. ”We can run all over somebody else.”
Lindsay impressed the Broncos brass and coaching staff at his pro day by turning in a time of 4.39 seconds in his 40-yard dash. He also shined at the Shrine Game, where he drew some comparisons to New England running back James White.
”But I don’t want to be like anybody else,” Lindsay said. ”I want to be like Phillip Lindsay, establishing myself with special teams and getting into the playbook as a running back. … I’m happy to be a part of the team and I’m ready to get things going.”
NOTES: Jones said he’s been learning the playbook under the tutelage of Broncos OL Connor McGovern. ”Definitely a leg up going into camp,” Jones said. … WR DaeSean Hamilton of Penn State was wearing big glasses that would’ve made LB Von Miller proud. ”I took notices of the type of glasses that he wears,” said Hamilton, a fourth-round selection. ”I like really fancy glasses, big glasses.” … David Williams, a seventh-round pick out of Arkansas Cheap Josh Rosen Jersey , said of the wide-open running back competition: ”It’s actually a great situation. If it was me in college, I’d go to this school – if it was a school – because the situation is so good.” … LB Keishawn Bierria, a sixth-round pick from Washington, on learning the playbook: ”It’s a lot. But that’s why we have the vets. We have the vets to lean on. They’ll also serve as teachers for us, too. The more time we spend with them and get knowledge from them, it will be a lot easier.” … ILB Josey Jewell, a fourth-round pick out of Iowa, is fond of his nickname The Outlaw. ”It happened in college and hopefully it keeps going,” Jewell said.