Clippers guard Terance Mann continued his rise to stardom Thursday night against the Denver Nuggets, scoring 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting off the bench and orchestrating a comeback after the Nuggets jumped out to an early double-digit lead.
But Mann’s efforts were ultimately not enough, as the Clippers fell to the Nuggets 101-94, dropping their second straight game and moving into a virtual three-way tie with Denver and the Lakers for third place in the Western Conference.
Mann is averaging 14.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists over L.A.’s last eight games.
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L.A.’s starters came out of the gates flat against the Nuggets and were seemingly unprepared for Denver’s scheme of back-cuts. From the get-go, the Clippers gave up easy lay-ups and dunks to almost every Nugget on the floor, particularly uber-athletic forwards Michael Porter, Jr. and newly-acquired Aaron Gordon.
By the time Mann entered the game, with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter, the Clippers were already down nine—a lead that would eventually balloon to 18 by the third quarter.
The Clippers made a run in the fourth and managed to cut the lead to just one after consecutive buckets by Mann, but that was as close as they would get.
College Does a Mann Good
After the game, Mann, who added six rebounds and two assists, was asked by reporters about LA’s lack of intensity to start the game.
“It’s not always easy,” said Mann. “The game can go different ways. Basketball is a game of mistakes and runs and stuff like that. So it’s not always easy. It’s not always gonna go the way you want it to go. It’s not always sub-in and automatically bring a whole bunch of energy and then start coming back and tie the game. It’s not always gonna go like that. Just one possession at a time.
“I think that we gotta realize that we’re gonna get everybody’s best punch,” Mann added. “They want to beat the Clippers when they come in here. They see the names we got, they want to play hard, they want to play their best basketball. So I think we just gotta realize that and come prepared better, and just be ready to compete from the start.”
That kind of recognition is rare in young players, but Mann, who was selected by the Clippers in the second round of the 2019 draft, is actually not so young. The 24-year-old spent four years at Florida State, and therefore had the luxury of maturing outside of the NBA spotlight, unlike many players who come into the league not yet old enough to buy a beer.
His relatively long stint in college may also be why Mann feels comfortable asserting himself in comeback situations like the Denver game and in opening up his mouth if the need arises.
“Yeah, for sure,” responded Mann when asked if he feels comfortable speaking his mind to teammates. “These guys know me, these guys know that I want to win and how bad I want to win. And they know that I’m gonna bring the energy. So if I do speak up, it’s not coming from a place other than I’m trying to win and they’re trying to win.”
PG: ‘Skies the Limit for This Kid’
Winning, however, may not come easy for the Clippers in the coming days. After the game, superstar Paul George revealed that he is dealing with a flare-up of the toe edema that sidelined him earlier in the season. George, who sat out the Clippers’ loss to Orlando in the game prior, struggled mightily against Denver, further necessitating a strong performance from Mann to keep things competitive.
Mann’s development and potential, of course, have not gone unnoticed by George.
“His potential is through the roof,” George told reporters. “You see a kid who can do everything. And to me, those are the scariest players, because you can’t put a position on them. T-Mann is a position-less player and in this game that’s golden. He’s got the gift, he’s got the gift to do everything—he can defend, he can score, he rebonds great, he pushes in transition. Once he just develops the confidence in his shot and shooting off the bounce and working on his handle […] skies the limit for the kid. I’m looking forward to seeing him develop and see him grow.”
And it’s not only teammates that are impressed with Mann’s development. So too were announcers Marv Albert and Hall of Famer Reggie Miller.
“I’m sold on this kid Mann,” Albert announced in the midst of the Clippers’ Mann-led comeback.
“I am, too!” agreed Miller emphatically.