With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both ailing, Ivica Zubac took a whirl at being a star attraction and it was one for the memory books.
The 25-year-old Zubac will try to follow up the best performance of his career when the Los Angeles Clippers visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.
Zubac played like a man possessed Sunday during a 114-100 home victory over the Indiana Pacers as he scored 31 points and collected a career-best 29 rebounds.
The 7-foot Zubac was one board short of having the third 30-point, 30-rebound outing in the NBA in 40 years. Michael Cage was the last Clippers player to grab 30 rebounds in a game, doing so on April 24, 1988, against the Seattle SuperSonics.
The only downer for Zubac was fouling out with 3:40 remaining.
“I was mad at myself because I wanted to get that 30 and 30 so bad. It hurts,” Zubac said afterward. “It’s definitely not as happy as I should be.
“I was just mad at myself for going for (the blocked shot), but I just can’t help myself. Every time I see someone trying to get away, I try to block it.”
While legendary Wilt Chamberlain used to routinely post 30-30 games during his career, Zubac fell just short of joining Dwight Howard (2018) and Kevin Love (2010) as the only players to do it since Moses Malone in 1982.
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue was thrilled to see his big man step up.
“He was just ready to go. He’s been good for us all year,” Lue said. “It was great to see him rewarded with a big game like this. Guys being happy for him, looking for him in the paint and boxing out so he can rebound the ball.”
Zubac, who averages 10.5 points and 11.6 rebounds, figures to have some opportunities against Portland as George (hamstring) will miss his fifth straight game and Leonard (ankle) will sit out for the fourth consecutive game.
It isn’t yet known if Leonard will play Wednesday at Utah in the second game of the back-to-back.
Luke Kennard (calf) will miss his seventh consecutive game. John Wall (knee) also will be held out.
Portland also isn’t at full strength as star guard Damian Lillard will miss his fifth straight game with his second calf injury of the season.
The Trail Blazers have lost five of their past six, ending a 1-3 road trip Sunday with a 111-97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
The Blazers’ Jerami Grant scored 29 points to follow his career-best 44-point outing in Friday’s 132-129 overtime win over the New York Knicks. Grant is averaging 21.5 points this season and has topped 20 points nine times this month.
But Grant wasn’t enjoying his Sunday showing as Portland’s defense struggled against the Nets.
“It was a tough one for us. We let a lot of their shooters and hot players get a lot of open shots,” Grant said. “We could have done a lot better but sometimes road trips are like that.
“It’s hard to win in the league. Just got to go home, get a win and start putting something together.”
Portland started the season with 10 wins in 14 games but with the recent struggles, now sits just two games above .500.
“Tough little stretch that we’re in right now,” Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “It is what it is. Every team goes through it.”
Portland has struggled with the Clippers over the last three seasons, losing nine of the 10 matchups.
–Field Level Media
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