CLIPPERS AIM TO GET PHYSICAL
Eric Patten (@ericpatten) | 5/4/12

LOS ANGELES–Reggie Evans was frustrated after the Clippers practiced Friday at their Playa Vista training facility.
 
He felt like the Clippers got “pushed around” by the so-called “Grit and Grind” Memphis Grizzlies in their Game 2 loss, something that did not sit well with the man who prides himself as much as anyone in the league on toughness and rebounding.
 
“From a physical standpoint we got pushed around,” Evans said. “That goes for all of us. That includes myself, too. That doesn’t point any single person out. You can say I got punked around a couple times. I mean, they got 16 offensive rebounds. What’s that a sign of? We got pushed around, punked around that’s just what it’s a sign of.”
 
The Grizzlies out-rebounded the Clippers 37-28 Wednesday and pulled down 16 offensive boards, leading to 18 second-chance points. It wasn’t just the volume of rebounds, but the timing. With the Clippers clawing back in the game late, Marc Gasol missed consecutive free throws, but Zach Randolph snuck underneath the rim to snare the ball and keep the possession alive.
 
“There are no secrets here: we’ve got to rebound the basketball,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Memphis crashes the glass a lot. They get it up on the rim. We’ve got to do a good job finding bodies, and like I’ve said all along, control the glass and not turn it over as much because they convert on those.”
 
It’s widely accepted the playoffs up the ante on physical play. Against the Grizzlies with a big-bodied frontline of Gasol and Randolph, and scrappy wings like O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen, it’s taken to another level.
 
“It’s kind of a mindset, really. Going into the game you’ve got to have that mindset to be more physical,” Blake Griffin said. “That’s what we plan to do is be a little bit more physical. It starts as soon as the game starts. We have to be the more aggressive team.”
 
Evans on teaching youngsters like DeAndre Jordan, who is in his first playoff series, on how to be a more physical player:

“He’s young and what’s so good about it, I said, ‘You’re kind of just like me.’ When I got in this league I had my own way of doing things, but I also learned it from my peers. I learned from Danny Fortson. Even from my opponents, like Kevin Garnett, even when they were on an opposite team than me, I still was learning. Learning from G.P. [Gary Payton], how he do things. [DeAndre’s] pretty much doing the same thing, learning and stuff like that. He’s shown great improvement from the first game to the second game.”

Evans, who pulled down 13 rebounds in Game 1, agreed the Clippers need to have a mindset to be more physical from the opening tip. “It’s a mindset,” he said. “It’s just like a little kid getting bullied all the time, eventually that kid’s going to run or eventually that kid’s going to bite back.”
 
The frontcourt foursome of Griffin, Evans, DeAndre Jordan, and Kenyon Martin and jumping-jack guard Eric Bledsoe all have the ability to fight with Memphis under the glass. They proved it in the fourth quarter of Game 1 when they out-hustled the Grizzlies to preserve possessions and make stops. For all the “Grit and Grind” talk, the Clippers somewhat out Grizzlied the Grizzlies.
 
But that was mainly an 8-minute stretch in two games. On Friday, the Del Negro emphasized extending that level of physicality from start to finish, something guard Randy Foye reiterated after practice.
 
“Today in film it was all about turnovers and defensive rebounding,” Foye said. “It’s just something we know we can get better at. It’s something that we know we can control. You know, boxing out, and not making crazy passes is something that we can control.
 
“If their guys are not shooting from the outside, usually they’re crashing the boards, so you’ve just got to put a body on them. It’s aggressive you know. It’s a lot of pushing and holding, but you’ve just got to be more aggressive.”
 
BACKCOURT INJURY UPDATE
In addition to Caron Butler’s fractured left hand, the Clippers left Memphis with several other bumps and bruises.
 
Mo Williams is nursing a right forearm contusion that he sustained in the second half of Game 2 and guards Nick Young (right thumb) and Bledsoe (elbow bruise) also missed time in Wednesday’s 105-98 loss. Young and Bledsoe practiced without restrictions, while Williams was held out.
 
“[Williams is] feeling better, so we’ll evaluate him tomorrow,” Del Negro said. “Nick and Eric were fine. They practiced.”
 
Bledsoe worked out with coaches Howard Eisley and Robert Pack for more than 30 minutes after the team concluded practice. All three players are expected to play in Game 3.

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