Norman Powell

Clippers Notes: Jackson, Powell, Morris, Kennard

After starting his first 38 games of the season, Clippers guard Reggie Jackson was moved to a reserve role earlier this month in favor of Terance Mann. The 12-year veteran still exudes positivity despite the role change, writes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register.

I just want to win so I don’t care how much I am playing, I really don’t,” Jackson said. “As long as we win, I’ll be alright. I’m an end-goal person. It’s a process. I’m just interested in the end goal. That’s it.”

The 32-year-old is in the final year of his contract, which pays him $11.2MM in 2022/23, so he will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • Teammates responded positively to Norman Powell‘s speech earlier this month amid a losing streak that stretched to six games, Carr writes in another story for The Orange County Register. “We had gotten off to a bad start and needed some guy to step up and speak up,” Nicolas Batum said. “No one took it personally. Sometimes things like that are good.” The Clippers have gone 5-4 since Powell told the team changes were needed, and currently have a three-game winning streak.
  • Marcus Morris exited Tuesday’s victory over the Lakers after just 10 minutes of action due to a rib contusion, Carr adds. The veteran forward is officially listed as questionable for Thursday’s contest against San Antonio. Morris has been one of the healthier members of the team, having missed just four games to this point.
  • Sharpshooter Luke Kennard could return to the lineup on Thursday, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. “I’ve been doing on-court stuff and playing live so it’s just making sure that it’s gone 100%,” Kennard said before Tuesday’s game. “I left the last road trip to come back and speed it up a little bit more. I’m ready. It’s frustrating, it’s annoying, so it’s time to come back.” The 26-year-old has been dealing with a calf strain, which he originally injured on November 15, but aggravated on January 6. He has missed nine straight games with the injury and is also listed as questionable.

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Powell, Kawhi, Warriors, Metu

Last week, with the Clippers in the midst of a six-game losing streak that dropped their overall record to 21-21, veteran swingman Norman Powell spoke to his teammates to reiterate his confidence in the group and to remind them what they’re capable of, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Powell, along with Kawhi Leonard, was a member of the Raptors team that won a championship in 2019 and believes this year’s Clippers have a similar ceiling.

“I talked to the team. I told them: ‘This team is deeper than the Raptors team I was on. It’s all about identity and who we are and how we’re going to play,'” Powell said. “I feel like every team goes through it. If you look back at championship teams and top teams, there’s always a point in the season where you get here. And we’ve been here a couple times for whatever reason it is, and it’s just gutting up and taking it and coming out of it.”

The 2018/19 Raptors were far more consistent than this year’s Clippers have been, but Powell pointed to a stretch in January 2019 when Toronto lost three of four games (the third at home to Milwaukee on national TV) as a turning point for that club. There’s hope that the Clippers’ recent slide can galvanize this team in the same way and compel them to play with more urgency in the second half.

“The identity of who we are every single night that we’re on the floor is the biggest thing that we have to figure out, and that doesn’t matter who’s suiting up that night,” Powell said. “It’s just, we’re going to be a hard-nosed, tough-playing defense. We’re going to be an offense that moves the ball, attacks you, puts pressure on the rim and generates open shots. And that’s not — PG (Paul George) doesn’t have to play for that, Kawhi doesn’t have to play for that. That’s just an identity and style of basketball we have to start really locking into now.”

The Clippers snapped their losing streak and got back over .500 with a victory over Dallas on Tuesday.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • After leading the Clippers past Luka Doncic and the Mavs on Tuesday by scoring a season-high 33 points in 36 minutes, Kawhi Leonard acknowledged that he’s relieved to no longer be on the minutes limit that he faced earlier in the season. “If you’re basing it on minute restriction, it is frustrating,” Leonard said, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “Because I’m not going in there jacking shots, so I’m trying to play team basketball. It was frustrating (with the restriction). We were losing games. From a minute restriction, I’m not the only one either that was on it. Guys have been in and out the lineup all year, getting injured.”
  • The Warriors had their full starting lineup available on Tuesday for the first time since December 3, but lost at home to the shorthanded Suns in a game that showed Stephen Curry and the rest of the rotation still have dust to shake off, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Curry, who scored 16 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, said he “felt like myself again” by the end of the game. “I’m hoping that fourth quarter was the team that I have come to know and love and recognize,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “But we have to show in the first quarter, not in the fourth quarter.”
  • Chimezie Metu rejoined the Kings‘ rotation as the backup center on Monday for the first time since early December and had his best game of the season, with 11 points and nine rebounds in 14 minutes. The performance went a long way toward rebuilding head coach Mike Brown‘s trust in Metu, according to Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. Brown said he thought the big man “relaxed just a little bit” before losing his spot in the rotation last month.

Raptors Notes: Achiuwa, Boucher, VanVleet, Koloko

Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa appears to be on the verge of returning from a right ankle injury. He was put through a vigorous on-court workout after the team’s practice today, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter links), who notes that Achiuwa has been upgraded to questionable for Thursday’s game vs. Memphis.

Despite the change in Achiuwa’s status on the injury report, Lewenberg believes the former first-round pick is more likely to return for Friday’s game vs. Phoenix. Achiuwa hasn’t played since November 9.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Raptors big man Chris Boucher has logged just 22 total minutes in the last three games and has scored only two points during that stretch. Asked if Achiuwa’s return could benefit Boucher, head coach Nick Nurse simply stated, Chris needs to play better (Twitter link via Lewenberg).
  • After leaving Tuesday’s game due to lower back stiffness, Fred VanVleet is listed as questionable for Thursday, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. The Raptors’ starting point guard is dealing with back spasms, according to Nurse (Twitter link via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps). If VanVleet has to miss any time, Malachi Flynn has earned the opportunity to play a larger role, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star.
  • Rookie center Christian Koloko, also listed as questionable for Thursday’s game, is getting an MRI on his sore right knee today, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Both Grange and Lewenberg explored what it meant to have Clippers forwards Kawhi Leonard and Norman Powell – two members of the Raptors’ 2019 championship team – back in the building on Tuesday. Despite Leonard’s reputation for being “notoriously stoic,” even the former Finals MVP was feeling a little nostalgic, according to Grange. With the Clippers still managing his knee, Leonard was given the choice of sitting out Monday’s game in Detroit or Tuesday in Toronto — he opted to face the Raptors. “It’s always great memories coming in this arena,” Kawhi said. “And if I was going to sit a game I’d rather give the fans in Toronto a chance to see me play again.”

Atlantic Notes: Toppin, Randle, Powell, Mazzulla

Knicks forward Obi Toppin is still in the early stages of rehab from his right leg injury, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

Toppin, who has not played since Dec. 7, said his workouts are limited to spot-up shooting, pool work and upper-body weightlifting. The Knicks’ primary backup to Julius Randle will need “couple more reevaluations” before returning from the fractured bone in his leg.

“Not really any pain, but I could not feel pain and it could still be messed up,” Toppin said. “So it’s all up to [the Knicks’ medical staff]. Whenever they feel I should be back, that’s when I’ll come back.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Randle caused a stir, particularly among Knicks fans, when he sat in the front row of Mavericks-Jazz playoff game last spring. Randle was accompanied by Knicks executives William Wesley and Alan Houston, but Randle insists they weren’t there to be seen by potential acquisitions Jalen Brunson and Donovan Mitchell. Randle, who lives in the Dallas area, claimed Tuesday it was just a coincidence, Bondy writes. “I didn’t even know [Wesley and Houston] were in town,” he said. “Just so happened to happen like that.”
  • Former Raptors champion and current Clippers forward Norman Powell returned to Toronto on Tuesday for the first time since Feb. 28, 2020, Law Murray of The Athletic tweets. The Raptors were on a road trip when the pandemic hit and then played in the Orlando bubble before spending the next season in Tampa, with Powell traded to Portland midway through that year. He was inactive for the Trail Blazers’ game in Toronto last season and was dealt to the Clippers after Los Angeles had already played there.
  • The Celtics still don’t plan to remove the interim tag from Joe Mazzulla before the end of the season, according to Adam Himmelbach of the Boston Globe. Ime Udoka‘s suspension is due to end in June. Mazzulla, who missed Tuesday’s game due to eye irritation, according to Jared Weiss (Twitter link), may have been given some assurances about his future privately by the front office. It’s expected that Mazzulla will be retained as the head coach after the season.

Western Notes: Clippers, Gilgeous-Alexander, Lillard, Green

The Clippers were able to practice at full strength on Tuesday, a rarity for a team that has dealt with numerous injuries, Andrew Grief of the Los Angeles Times notes. That includes Paul George, Norman Powell, Ivica Zubac and Reggie Jackson, who have missed games this month due a variety of ailments.

“It’s exciting to finally actually have our whole team almost complete, be ready to play and just try to get rotations down and see what guys plays good with who,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “And so we’re starting all over again, but it’s a good feeling to have your whole team back.”

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a game-winning shot for the Thunder in a two-point victory over the Trail Blazers on Monday. Gilgeous-Alexander says he’s “super comfortable” in those situations, according to The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto. His teammates concur. “The ball had to end up in our best player’s hand,” guard Luguenz Dort said.
  • Damian Lillard became the Trail Blazers’ all-time leading scorer on Monday, surpassing Clyde Drexler. Center Jusuf Nurkic already considered his teammate the franchise’s greatest player, Jason Quick of The Athletic writes. “No disrespect to Clyde — he’s one of the all-time greats — but even if Dame didn’t pass him, I feel like Dame is still the greatest Blazer ever,” he said. “When you put everything together — the way he plays the game, what he does off the court, everything — he’s a one of a kind player. Hopefully he retires here.”
  • Warriors forward JaMychal Green has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, Kendra Andrews of ESPN tweets. Green, who missed Wednesday’s game against the Knicks, had one of his best outings for Golden State on Sunday. He contributed 15 points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes during a victory over Toronto.

Injury Notes: Towns, Finney-Smith, N. Powell, Nets

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns isn’t close to returning to action, according to head coach Chris Finch, who said today on a KFAN radio appearance that he expects Towns to remain sidelined for a “multitude of weeks,” according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).

It has been three weeks since reports indicated Towns would be sidelined for at least four-to-six weeks due to a calf strain, so it comes as no surprise that his return isn’t imminent. Krawczynski notes that the big man is due for a reevaluation fairly soon, so we may get a clearer sense at that time about when Towns might be back.

Here are a few more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • After he left Monday’s game in the third quarter due to a right adductor strain, Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith admitted that he first sustained the injury on Saturday and tried to play through it, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. “Feel like I probably made it worse,” Finney-Smith said. “It takes a lot for me to get out of there.” It’s unclear how much time Finney-Smith will miss, but he has already been ruled out for Wednesday’s contest. Players who suffer adductor strains generally remain out for at least a week or two.
  • The Clippers are hopeful that wing Norman Powell, who has been on the shelf since November 29 due to a left groin strain, will be able to play at some point on the team’s upcoming road trip, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. That five-game trip will begin in Philadelphia on Friday and will wrap up on December 31.
  • The Nets aren’t listing any injuries on their report for Wednesday’s game against Golden State, which is the first time that has happened since Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the team in the summer of 2019, according to Alec Sturm of NetsDaily (Twitter link).

L.A. Notes: Westbrook, LeBron, Kawhi, George, Powell

While there was some initial trepidation this fall about how former MVP Russell Westbrook might respond to being asked to come off the bench on a full-time basis, the Lakers guard appears to have chosen to embrace the change, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com. NBA analyst and former head coach Stan Van Gundy is among those impressed by how Westbrook has handled his new role.

“From the outside, I don’t sense resistance on his part this year,” Van Gundy told Mannix. “I don’t see him pouting about coming off the bench. He’s not making passive-aggressive comments in the media. I see acceptance from a guy who’s trying to make it work.”

Former NBA star Dwyane Wade, who transitioned to a bench role late in his own career, also admires Westbrook’s efforts to make things work in Los Angeles.

“It’s just that sometimes it’s about the situation,” Wade said to Mannix. “So at this age, at this time, with this team right now, the best situation for Russ was to come off the bench and be able to have the freedom that he has to just be Russ. To not have to overthink all the time about, ‘O.K., LeBron. O.K., I got to get the ball to AD. O.K., I got to shoot this. O.K., I don’t want to shoot.’ He doesn’t have to think as much. Russ has now put himself in a better situation by coming off the bench.”

One high-ranking team executive who spoke to Mannix believes Westbrook’s adjustments will change how teams view him and will result in more teams pursuing him when he reaches free agency in 2023.

In the short term, it has also led to his name coming up in trade rumors less frequently, with some reports indicating the Lakers seem more inclined to hang onto the 34-year-old through this season’s trade deadline rather than surrendering valuable draft assets to move his $47MM+ expiring contract.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • Lakers star LeBron James will turn 38 later this month, but he has no plans to retire anytime soon. In a German-language interview, teammate Dennis Schröder said that James has told him he’d like to play another five to seven more seasons and retire at age 45, Zach Stevens of LakersDaily.com relays.
  • The Clippers‘ performance against Boston on Monday night was a reminder of the team’s upside, with Kawhi Leonard looking more like his old self and Paul George no longer on a minutes restriction, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Asked about his strong outing after scoring a season-high 25 points, Leonard stressed that he’s more concerned about where he’s at in the spring than where he’s at right now. “I’m focusing on the end of the year,” Leonard said. “Playoff basketball. Doesn’t matter about tonight.”
  • There’s still no specific timeline for Norman Powell‘s return to the court, tweets Mark Medina of NBA.com. Powell, who has missed the Clippers‘ last seven games due to a left groin strain, has done some individual workouts as part of his recovery process, per head coach Tyronn Lue.

Clippers Notes: Wall, Leonard, Powell, Lue

Wizards fans gave Clippers guard John Wall a thunderous ovation in his return to Washington Saturday night (video link from Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times). Wall made his first start of the season, replacing the injured Reggie Jackson, as the crowd got to welcome him back for the first time since he was traded to Houston in 2020.

Wall scored 13 points as L.A. pulled out a tight win and appeared to say, “This is my city,” after hitting a step-back jumper, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post (Twitter link). He admitted to reporters that he felt the impact of being back in the arena where he became a star, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

“Looked over at the seats where my mom used to be sitting at and the other four seats where my family used to sit at and just try to fantasize and be in that moment for a minute,” said Wall, whose mother passed away in December 2019. “Just being here – like I said, still so surreal. Still don’t feel right, still feel different. But like I said, I enjoyed every part of this game and I’m glad we got a win. It was a lot of chills, tried not to cry, hold back a lot of emotions and kind of be in the moment of the game and try to win.”

There’s more on the Clippers:

  • Kawhi Leonard played 30 minutes on Saturday, and coach Tyronn Lue indicated that his minutes restriction will eventually be lifted, Greif tweets. “It’s going to take some time, it’s going to be a process, but the biggest thing for him is just getting over it mentally,” Lue said, “because I know he said he feels good and feels well but going through those type of injuries myself, I understand it takes a little time to get over that mental hurdle.”
  • Norman Powell has progressed to on-court workouts in his recovery from a groin injury, Greif adds (via Twitter). Lue said Powell is getting better, but still needs more time.
  • The Clippers have struggled to stay above .500 with their stars in and out of the lineup, but Lue understood it wouldn’t be easy to bring Leonard back after missing a full season with an ACL injury, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Lue said patience will be needed for the team to approach its championship expectations. “And so it’s going to take a little time,” he said, “just figuring out the rotations and who plays well with who and trying to figure out how to split Kawhi’s minutes and what’s best for the team and what’s best for him as well.”

Leonard, George Returning To Action Monday

Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will play tonight, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. It’s just the fifth time they’ll be available for the same game this season.

Coming off knee surgery that kept him out last season, Leonard has been limited to five games this season. The Clippers have gone 2-4 since his last appearance on Nov. 21, when he suffered a sprained ankle.

George has missed seven straight contests with a strained right hamstring. He’s averaging 23.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in 16 starts.

Reserve guard Luke Kennard will also be in uniform. He has been out since Nov. 15 due to a calf injury.

Coach Tyronn Lue called it an “exciting day” to have most of his rotation players available, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Norman Powell (groin) is the only regular who won’t be ready to go against Charlotte.

L.A. Notes: Kawhi, George, Powell, Kennard, Ryan, Schröder, Bryant

Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard (ankle) and Paul George (hamstring) appear to be close to returning from their respective injuries. Head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters on Friday that both Leonard and George are practicing today and are considered questionable to play on Saturday (Twitter link via Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times). The team will wait to see how the duo feels after practicing on Friday.

Norman Powell (groin) isn’t practicing today, while Luke Kennard (calf) has already been ruled out for Saturday, so even if Leonard and George are available, the Clippers will remain a little shorthanded for the time being. Still, Kennard is practicing on Friday and Lue sounds like he expects the sharpshooter to return soon.

“I’m excited to get guys back, PG and Kawhi, get Luke back,” Lue said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “But now we gotta wait on Norm so hopefully he feels better soon. But I am very excited just to kind of see what we have.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • Leonard and George have had their availability impacted by health issues since joining the Clippers in 2019, but the team is “pot-committed” to the star duo, Brian Windhorst writes for ESPN.com. With the franchise deep in tax territory and short on future draft assets, all signs point to the Clippers “keeping their chips firmly in the middle and adding to (the) pot if needed,” according to Windhorst.
  • After being waived this week by the Lakers, second-year wing Matt Ryan tweeted his appreciation to the organization for giving him a shot on a non-guaranteed deal this season. “Nothing but gratitude for the city of LA and the @Lakers!” he wrote. “Any opportunity to play in the NBA, let alone for this franchise, is special. Thank you. Now I’m excited for whatever is next!”
  • Within a round-up of where things stand for the Lakers at the 20-game mark, Jovan Buha of The Athletic says that offseason additions Dennis Schröder and Thomas Bryant were worth the wait. Both players missed the start of the season due to thumb injuries, but have entered the rotation since returning, with Schröder averaging 8.4 PPG and 3.6 RPG in seven games (25.3 MPG) and Bryant contributing 9.3 PPG and 5.0 RPG in six appearances (14.7 MPG). Bryant’s +9.5 net rating is the best mark on the Lakers’ 15-man roster.