June 13, 2024

The LA Clippers are expected to make a lineup change with Russell Westbrook coming off the bench to help the team try to snap a six-game losing streak against the Houston Rockets on Friday, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The Clippers (3-7) have lost the past five with James Harden in the lineup. Versatile guard Terance Mann is expected to move into the starting lineup with Westbrook serving as sixth man for the first time in his Clippers tenure.

Sources confirmed Westbrook talked to the Clippers coaching staff Thursday about coming off the bench, a move that was first reported by Bleacher Report. Head coach Ty Lue will meet with reporters during his pregame news conference Friday night.

The team has been out of sync since Harden was acquired Oct. 30. Lue had started Westbrook, Harden, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Ivica Zubac and then staggered his four stars by pairing former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Westbrook and George together with a second unit and Harden and Leonard together.

The Clippers’ four stars have been outscored by 20 points during their 76 minutes together, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Through five games, Harden is averaging 15 points on 10.2 shots, both his lowest since he averaged 16.8 points and 10.1 shots as a sixth man in his final season with the Thunder, 2011-12.

Lue said before Tuesday’s 111-108 loss at Denver that he had not considered making a lineup change when asked about Westbrook potentially running the second unit. While Lue has liked what he has seen from a lineup that he uses to start recent fourth quarters with Westbrook, the head coach acknowledged after the loss to the defending champs that keeping everyone happy will be a challenge.

Westbrook, who has taken on more of a leadership role with the Clippers this season, finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in 24 minutes against the Nuggets. The only game in which he played fewer minutes was when he logged 20 minutes in a blowout loss at Dallas on Nov. 10.

Of the Clippers’ stars, Westbrook has the most recent experience as a sixth man. He came off the bench in 49 of 52 games for the Los Angeles Lakers last season before he was traded to Utah, which bought the point guard out of his contract to pave the way for him to join the Clippers during the All-Star break.

“Every night it could be different,” Lue said of Westbrook’s usage Tuesday. “But we need his leadership every single night. We need the way he plays every single night, his passion on the floor. …

“He understands that. And [we have] a constant dialogue and communicating.”


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