first_imgSGA’s CONFIDENT DEBUTHours before his official NBA debut Wednesday, Gilgeous-Alexander stood before reporters at shootaround and shrugged, smiled and downplayed the dream-come-true moment like a knowing veteran taking it all just one game at a time.“I feel like I’ve gotten comfortable over the past couple preseason games; I feel ready to go,” Gilgeous-Alexander insisted. “It doesn’t feel too much like my first NBA game.”Then he stepped on the court in place of starting point guard Patrick Beverley with 5:30 left in the first quarter, and his play did the talking: Gilgeous-Alexander was comfortable, ready to go, and he looked not at all like he was playing in his first NBA game.Seventeen seconds after he checked in, he delivered the ball to Lou Williams for a 3-pointer and his first assist.With 3:06 left in the quarter, he attacked the rim – hanging momentarily in mid-air – to convert a layup for his first points.A minute after that, he connected on a smooth step-back jumper from 20 feet.Related Articles “You have to,” Rivers said. “When you have a team that you’ve been together two, three years they almost go into end-of-game mode when end of game starts. When you have a team like this, they don’t know what to go into, so you have to work on it.”Rookie guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander acknowledged the Clippers’ shared shortcomings in late-game situations, but he kept it in perspective.“We haven’t really been together for the longest time in those pressure situations,” he said. “But that will come the more we play. I’m not worried about it.” Surmised forward Tobias Harris: “Tough stretch right there.”Rivers reasoned that the crunch-time collapse had much to do with the teams’ disparate levels of familiarity.The Nuggets looked like they’d been there together before, while the Clippers – whose longest-tenured player is Sindarius Thornwell, who joined the organization on June 23, 2017 – botched an out-of-bounds play.“The entire team forgot it,” Rivers said. “I was screaming and you could tell right after they were like, ‘My bad.’ But we don’t get that back. Those are the things (when) not being together hurts you.”With another home game against Oklahoma City looming Friday night, the Clippers planned to dedicate practice time Thursday to end-of-game scenarios. Clippers coach Doc Rivers let loose a sigh following Wednesday’s season-opening 107-98 loss at home to the Denver Nuggets.Before training camp began, he’d wondered aloud how this season’s Clippers would close games. One game in, he still didn’t know.“The thing that stood out to me was what I said before the year – can we close games?” Rivers said. “We didn’t do that. We had a lead, and then down the stretch we really just didn’t get good shots.”Despite trailing most of the game, the Clippers conjured a fourth-quarter surge that put them ahead 92-84 with 5:14 left. Denver took control from there, outscoring the Clippers 23-6. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory Clippers hope they can play to their capabilities, quell Mavericks’ momentum Kristaps Porzingis ruled out as Clippers, Mavericks set for Game 5; Follow for game updates What the Clippers are saying the day after Luka Doncic’s game-winner tied series, 2-2 When his debut was done, Gilgeous-Alexander had played 28 minutes and wound up with 11 points, four assists, two rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot – and the appreciation of Rivers, who credited the team’s youngest player for doing the best job of following the plan of attacking and either finishing or making plays.His teammates were impressed, too.“(He’s) a very, very poised player,” Harris said. “He played really well tonight for his first game.”Across the locker room, Gilgeous-Alexander was asked again to describe that first-game feeling.“It didn’t feel like too much emotions tonight,” he said, explaining, “I work hard every single day. When you work hard and you see results, the confidence just comes with it.” Clippers vs. Mavericks Game 5 playoff updates from NBA beat reporters last_img

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