Things felt a little different for the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday afternoon at Staples Center, playing their second game since shipping its former cornerstone player in Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons on Jan. 29.
However, that feeling was more of a new beginning, as a sellout crowd of 19,068 fans filled the arena to witness its newest acquired players in Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris make their Los Angeles debuts, as Harris scored 24 points and the Clippers rolled passed the Chicago Bulls 113-103.
“I felt great,” said Harris after a 10-for-19 shooting night that also included three of six from behind the arc. “I was obviously happy. I was excited just to get out there with my new teammates. It felt good to just go out and play. Obviously, I’ll be a little bit more acclimated coming up.
“It’s been tough to sleep at night sometimes just with the time change. When I’m fully able to get my eight to 10 hours of [sleep], I’ll be even more prepared and better. But I felt good getting out there and just playing.”
Harris, wasn’t alone in the scoring column, as Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari scored 24 points, while guard Lou Williams added 21 points.
“Tobias and Danilo were phenomenal tonight,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “I’m just trying to figure out what we have with those two.
“Early on when we start the three guys, Danilo, Tobias and D.J. [DeAndre Jordan], they are going to have to put a three on one of them, and we took advantage of that by posting up Tobias, so you’re going to have a matchup that you can create every night.”
Los Angeles also took advantage of making things difficult for Bulls guard Zach Lavine, as he scored 21 points but shot six of 18 from the field while being defended primarily by Avery Bradley.
“I felt like it was good. I’m still getting my legs under me,” said Bradley, finishing with eight points, five rebounds and five assists in his Clippers debut. “But I feel like it was a good start for us. We’re still getting used to each other. But I feel like once we’re able to learn how to play off one another, the sky’s the limit for this team.”
Bradley, had also been battling with a groin injury in Detroit, where he missed seven games because of the injury.
“I’ve been playing games, but I’ve still been in and out,” Bradley said. “I got some shots (up) a few weeks ago.”
The Clippers forced Chicago to shoot 36 percent from the field, and only 32 percent from deep, also forcing 12 turnovers.
Turnovers then led to transition scoring for Los Angeles, as they ended with 33 fast break points, a season-high.
The Clippers led the entire game, thanks to shooting 46 percent from the field, as well as controlling the glass, (60-54), led by Jordan with 16 rebounds.
In their sixth consecutive loss, the Bulls struggled to get contributions from their bench, receiving only 24 points from their second unit, compared to 46 points from Los Angeles’s bench.
Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell scored 14 points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes, while guard Tyrone Wallace added eight points, six rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes.
Chicago was clearly outmanned, playing without starters in Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen.
Dunn sat out his seventh consecutive game after suffering a concussion against the Warriors on Jan. 17 and remains in concussion protocol, while Markkanen remained home for the birth of his first child.
As time goes on for the Clippers, chemistry will play a key role with establishing new players, while also getting them adjusted into different lineups.
“We played with a new team today,” Gallinari said. “The style is going to be what you saw today. We just have to keep it up and keep improving. It can get better.”
“I think that’s the way everyone would like to play. That way everyone is happy and on the same page. By playing like that you make every single player happy.”
Coach Doc Rivers admitted there had only been one real practice since acquiring Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley and Boban Marjanovic.
“It’s funny, even though we had those two days and a shoot around, we went over only three or four plays. When you called [the new players] out, you could just see the look in the guys like, “what is that? We just literally stayed with an open floor, motion offense and it was far better than anything we tried to run. We need to obviously get to executing, and we’ll get that.”