Coach Tyronn Lue was looking for a way to energize the Clippers, who had been muddling through the season. He wanted someone who could provide a much-needed spark to the start of games, especially with Paul George out. The Clippers had lost six games in a row as the season reached the midseason mark.
Lue looked to his bench and saw guard Terance Mann, the Clippers’ third-year player who brings an energetic and athletic dynamic to the team. His advice to Mann was simple: “Just play my game, really. Bring energy and play my game,” Mann recalled.
For the past three games, Mann has started in place of Reggie Jackson at the other guard spot alongside Kawhi Leonard. Jackson had been struggling and Lue sat him down. Mann is expected to start Sunday against the Houston Rockets.
“This doesn’t mean Reggie’s done, nothing like that,” Lue said. “Just looking at some different things to do and throw out there. And like I said, it’s been pretty good the last couple of games. We just got to see it moving forward.”
As one of Lue’s revolving door lineup experiments, this one has played to mixed reviews so far.
Mann scored 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds, had four assists and two steals in his first start and 12 points and five rebounds in his second. He has a knack for finding a big after driving to the basket and can be a threat on the boards. He has averaged 36 minutes as a starter after averaging roughly 20 minutes off the bench.
“I feel like those guys trust me and you know, they know that I’m going to go out there and play hard and play my game and that’s kind of what we were looking for,” Mann said.
But the Clippers have lost two of their past three games, including Friday’s 113-101 defeat by the Denver Nuggets. Mann might not be the Clippers’ answer that will give them a boost in the standings. The Clippers (22-22) currently are sixth in the overly balanced Western Conference.
The Clippers dropped to .500 again after their loss to the Nuggets. Lue said Mann played tentatively against Denver, “just a little hesitant.”
“It’s to be expected. He’s a young player, switching positions, and so tonight was a learning experience,” Lue said. “I thought he did a good job defensively trying to disrupt Jamal (Murray) and Bones (Hyland), and it’s just something he has to get used to.
“It’s a new style we’re getting used to playing with, as well, and so nothing against TMann. It’s things we got to work on, keep showing film and keep getting better.”
Marcus Morris Sr. gave Mann two-thumbs up for his recent play.
“His energy man, he brings a ton of energy at the point guard position,” said Morris Sr., who is doubtful for Sunday’s game because of a left knee bruise. “He is super athletic. He plays a lot of different positions for us, so it’s easy to switch him around.
“Sky’s the limit for him.”
Mann’s new role means the Clippers are starting games without a pure point guard, although he brings up the ball before passing it off. Mann, however, said nothing much has changed for him given his new role that could be ongoing, at least for the near future.
“I feel like it’s the same thing. I feel like I’m trying to bring the same thing to the table, which is energy and whatever unit I’m in, pace, getting to the paint, finding the guys, getting to the paint, finishing for myself,” he said. “I don’t think too much has changed in my mentality from then to now.”
Luke Kennard (calf) and George (hamstring) will not play in Sunday’s game against Houston, while John Wall (abdominal soreness) and Morris Sr. (knee bruise) are questionable.