Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell (personal reasons) returns to action

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The LA Clippers had their full lineup available for only the 12th time this season with the return of Montrezl Harrell on Monday.

Harrell had six points and two rebounds in 15 minutes during the Clippers' 118-110 victory over the Dallas Mavericksin Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series. It was Harrell's first game in the NBA bubble since he left the team on July 17.

"It was great to have Trez here," Clippers guard Paul George said. "His energy was felt. His presence was missed. I thought he looked good for his first game ... It was like he's been with us for that time that he was gone. He just came in and kept rolling. Shout out, Trez."

The Clippers are thrilled to have Harrell back in the Lake Buena Vista, Florida, bubble. All season, the Clippers have dealt with injuries or life situations that left them shorthanded. The Sixth Man of the Year candidate has been grieving the death of his grandmother and had to go through a seven-day quarantine before getting back on the court Monday morning for shootaround. Teammates checked on Harrell while he was quarantining by knocking on his door and shouting messages.

"It was great getting him back," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought Nelson Mandela walked in. That was what it sounded like. We were all laughing about it. It was just good to get him back in. Not just out of quarantine that he had been in for so long, but he has gone through a lot of emotional stuff.

"I think it was good for our guys to be able to grab him and hug him and touch him. Good for him to see us. I thought it was a good medicine."

Rivers said Harrell will have to be worked back into shape in playoff games, something the coach never thought he would say about any player before.

"It's just tough," Rivers said after the game. "You don't miss a month and then put a guy in a playoff game and expect anything miraculous. I thought he was solid overall.

"I asked him how his wind was; he said, 'My wind is great. I just can't think out there right now. I haven't played ... I keep running to the wrong spot.' I think that's probably from just not playing basketball."