AFTER DEBUT BULLOCK AIMING TO GET BACK IN ‘BASKETBALL SHAPE’

PLAYA VISTA –Clippers rookie Reggie Bullock said watching his Reggieteammates for the past three weeks helped him avoid any nervousness before his cameo appearance in Wednesday night’s penultimate preseason game.

“I’ve been at the games,” Bullock said. “I’ve been watching from the sidelines and I’ve seen some of the things my teammates are doing. So, I just tried to do those things. It’s all about, for me, adapting to be able to play with these guys and taking things that I’ve learned since I’ve been a professional and just trying to go out there and do it.”

It has been a stalled debut for the No. 25 pick in the 2013 Draft. Bullock sat out all of training camp in San Diego and the Clippers’ first six preseason games with a sore right knee. He started feeling better more than a week ago, which allowed him to keep his level of conditioning at a near normal level. However, he thinks the biggest challenge, outside of catching up with everything that he missed on the court, will be returning to basketball shape.

“Just practice and getting a lot of reps, I think is the best way to get you in basketball shape,” Bullock said. “Conditioning-wise, I don’t feel like I’m that far away from it. It’s just basketball shape, getting a basketball routine again is off probably. Ninety percent of it is probably there.”

He returned to full-contact activity Monday and played seven minutes Wednesday against the Utah Jazz, a quick jump from the practice gym to the big stage. Bullock said he noticed the differences of the NBA almost immediately.

“Definitely from college to the NBA, I feel like guys are a lot stronger, a lot smarter,” Bullock said. “If they catch you sleeping, it’s definitely an easy bucket.”

Bullock was beaten a couple of times by Utah’s Gordon Hayward on Wednesday, in part, because he was caught not staying attached to him. It’s not something the Head Coach Doc Rivers is concerned with overall. 

“He was not very good defensively last night, but I think actually he is a really good defensive player,” Rivers said. “I think most people who know a little bit about Reggie, they know he can shoot. I think what people don’t know about Reggie, he can really defend. I think by the end of his career, he’ll be a big-time defender who can shoot.”

Bullock, who is one of the ten best 3-point shooters in terms of makes (188, eighth most all-time) in the storied history of the University of North Carolina, is expected to play more extensive minutes on Friday in the Clippers’ preseason finale. Rivers may also elect to play J.J. Redick more minutes than some of the starters to help speed up his assimilation process as well.

Redick had joined Bullock on the sidelines the previous six games with a left quad contusion and said after Wednesday’s game that the hardest part about missing 15 days of practice and games was losing out on the idea that you’re building something with your teammates.

Bullock agreed with Redick’s assessment about missing time.

“I would probably say that, too, [missing] learning team chemistry while you’re on the court with different guys,” Bullock said. “I only did that two days in practices and that was the first time I was actually playing with the full time.

“It felt good to be able to put on a Clippers jersey and go out there and compete with my teammates, and coach giving a chance to get a couple minutes to get back in the groove.”