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Clippers coach Doc Rivers says Ivica Zubac ‘is a true rim-protector’

Ivica Zubac, Clippers

Ever since the LA Clippers acquired big man Ivica Zubac from the Los Angeles Lakers at the February trade deadline, their defense has gone to another level.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers doesn’t see that as just a coincidence.

Zubac is making an impact on both ends of the floor for the Clippers, who are 39-30 on the season and in eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

Rivers says Zubac is the type of center the team needs.

“We have a rim-protector. Bottom line,” coach Doc Rivers said, via Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “Trezz [Montrezl Harrell] does it at times. But Zu is a true rim-protector, and Zu has been great at it. So that’s why (we’ve improved).

“We just play our same defense, except for now when a big drives, Zu is back there and it makes a difference.”

Before the Feb. 7 trade deadline, the Clippers had a defensive rating of 110.2, the 19th-best mark in the league. But over the past 13 games, with Zubac starting at center, the team has posted a 108.8 defensive rating, 11th-best in the league

In 13 games with the Clippers, Ivica Zubac is averaging 9.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per contest.

The 21-year-old is shooting 48.5 percent from the field and has been altering shots at the rim with regularity.