By Shereen Rayan
On a windy night, while wildfires burned all over Southern California, our crew was In The Front row at Citizen Bank Arena in Ontario watching this brand new G-League expansion team, the Agua Caliente Clippers lost this one but beat the South Bay Lakers.
The Agua Caliente Clippers had just beaten the South Bay Lakers in their new home at the Lakers UCLA Health Training Facility. You could tell the team wanted that win. They were fortunate to have Brice Johnson on loan from the LA Clippers. Johnson, the former North Carolina Tarheel drafted in the 1st round (25th pick) of the 2016 NBA Draft, played tonight against the Skyforce.
The SB Lakers head coach Coby Karl had just been named the G-League Coach of the Month and were 8-1 before they played their first rivalry game with the AC Clippers. The Clippers also have an assistant coach who’s a woman, Natalie Nakase. Nakase is well respected among the players, we got that on the download from their final private tryouts.
The AC Clippers have two Blue Devils on their team, Marshall Plumlee, a 7-foot-1 250-pound center, and Andre Dawkins, a 6-foot-4 206-pound guard. They also have a few former PAC-12 players in Tyrone Walls (Cal) and Ike Iroegbu (Wazzu).
Plumlee is a major presence on the court–the director on offense and defense. The floor general is usually a guard but in this case, he’s the ire center, and he got his scoring mojo going int his game.
The AC Clippers ended the first quarter down ten points 30-20, their shots just weren’t falling as well as the Skyforce. AC Clippers coach Casey Hill, formerly the Warriors G-League coach, is an extremely animated coach. The exact opposite from SB Lakers Coach Coby Karl.
By the end of the half, the AC Clippers were down 13, 63-50. They had to find their mojo and get that ball into the hoop!
most of the third quarter the Clippers spent trying to erase a 10-13 point deficit. But the fourth quarter was great!
Tyler Roberson and Tyrone Wallace brought back the Clipps and it got contagious. Plumlee went back in along with LaDontae Henton and Dawkins and the Clippers were up by one at one point. They kept it close and were down three points with three minutes left, 105-102.
It was anyone’s game.
The Skyforce guard Larry Drew II sunk a beautiful three-pointer, then another basket and the Clippers were down by seven with 30 seconds left, 114-107.
Positions 1-4 huddle to discuss what they wanted to do, and Plumlee paced back and forth behind them, obviously not happy with the situation his team was in.
Tyrone Wallace made two key free throws and a layup but with a forced foul and 19.8 seconds left, the Clippers were still down by six points, 116-110.
Larry Drew made two free throws, again. That’s all she wrote! Although the Clippers lost this one, we were able to talk to both Tyrone Wallace and Marshall Plumlee.