LOS ANGELES — The Clippers are going to proceed with caution when it comes to Marcus Morris Sr.
About two hours before tip-off, the team announced that the veteran forward would miss Monday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans on account of rest.
Coach Tyronn Lue said those decisions don’t come from him, but from the team’s medical personnel and they determined that Morris – who just returned three games ago after having missed 15 consecutive games strengthening his sore left knee – would do well to avoid playing both games of a back-to-back set so soon after getting healthy again.
“That’s not up to me,” Lue said. “The medical staff, when they say a guy needs a rest, he needs a rest. If it’s up to me, I’d play every night. Play every night.
“But we got to be smart about it. He’s been off for a month and to come back and try to play a back-to-back his third game back, that’s gonna be tough. So whatever the medical staff says then we just try to follow their lead.”
Morris is averaging 9.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists this season, through all of five games. But in the three games since he returned he’s averaged 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 29.5 minutes per contest.
Amir Coffey started in Morris’ place. It’s the third start this season for the third-year wing.
In the Clippers’ 120-108 loss to Memphis on Nov. 18, Coffey scored just eight points in 29 minutes, but he was also the only Clipper starter who finished with a positive plus-minus in the box score.
Similarly, in the Clippers’ 97-91 victory over Dallas on Nov. 21, Coffey was plus-21 in his 25 minutes of action, far and away the Clippers’ best mark that game.
Two games later, Coffey – whose NBA appearances are limited by virtue of the two-way G League contract he’s on – was inactive in the Clippers’ 107-96 victory over Detroit on Friday.
After Coffey’s contributions – three points, five rebounds, two assists, no turnovers and effective defense – against Dallas, Lue commended the former Minnesota collegiate standout.
“He’s been great the last few games and I like what he gave us tonight as well,” Lue said. “Defensively, did a good job on (Kristaps) Porzingis, getting up on him, being physical. It was a tough cover for him but he did a good job of fighting, so as long as you come in and compete the way he did, it’s good for us, and he’s been doing a good job for us the last few games.”
Clippers rookie Brandon Boston Jr. celebrated his 20th birthday one day later by dropping 46 points to help the Agua Caliente Clippers beat the Salt Lake City Stars, 130-97, in a G League game early Monday afternoon at Staples Center. Boston is the youngest player in G League history to score at least 46 points in a game.
No fans were on hand for the game to witness it, but the offensive-minded guard shot 15 for 20 and 9 for 12 from 3-point range in 35 minutes for the Agua Caliente Clippers – who booed Coach Paul Hewitt jovially when he pulled the former Sierra Canyon High star from the game four points shy of 50 with 4:59 left. Agua Caliente led, 117-89, at the time.
The game was held at Staples Center because of an operations malfunction at Toyota Arena in Ontario. Agua Caliente will play Salt Lake City at Staples Center again on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., also without fans.
Lue said he didn’t see any of Boston’s baskets, but that he’d talked with the young talent about it.
“He loves to ball. He loves to hoop. It was good to see him go 15 for 20 from the field, scoring 46 points, having four assists – that might be a career-high for him, as well,” Lue joked. “Those young guys, they put the work in, they continue to get better. So it was good to see.”
Boston’s former Sierra Canyon teammate Zaire Wade played 15 minutes for Salt Lake and had three points, three assists and two rebounds.