Sunday Scrimmage


The Los Angeles Clippers took their show on the road, playing in front of local Marines and their families.


The Los Angeles Clippers took their show on the road Sunday afternoon, traveling just two hours south to Camp Pendleton in beautiful Oceanside, CA to put on a scrimmage held exclusively for military personnel and their families. The scrimmage served as the final tune-up before preseason play, but it meant a little bit more than that to everyone in the gym. Professional athletes sometimes get unfairly lumped into this characterization that they’re all completely out of touch with reality and live in their own worlds. There were no signs of that perceived aloofness on the Clippers roster Sunday.

“It means a lot to play in front of them,” Craig Smith said. “These guys protect and serve our country. This is good to show they have support from us and the whole NBA. It’s an honor to play in front of them.”

This is the third straight year the Clippers have made the trek to the military base. Veteran center Chris Kaman, the Clippers longest tenured player, talked about what playing in front of the military means to him, as Kaman’s father and grandfather both served in the Army.

“I think over the years we’ve been able to establish a good relationship with these guys on base and all the servicemen and women,” Kaman said. “Every year that we can come out and give something back, it means a ton.”

The Clippers were obviously excited to entertain, but the Marines at Camp Pendleton were just as pleased to play host.

“I’m just ecstatic right now,” Private First Class Marine Daniel Heiserman said. “Blake Griffin is an amazing player. This just gives us something to talk to the folks back home about.”

“The Clippers are my team,” Private First Class Marine Clint Hargrove said. “I love the Clippers.”

After a week of grinding away in training camp with no fanfare, many members of the Clippers were just happy to be out and in front of a crowd again.

“We’ve been having these two-a-day practices and going up against each other, competing, and making each other better,” Clippers forward Ryan Gomes said. “But now we’ll get to test ourselves against other players this week. We’ll learn from our mistakes today and get it to carry over to our game against Portland on Tuesday.”

Game Notes:

White Team 39 – Blue Team 32

The white team roster was composed of Eric Bledsoe, Rasual Butler, Stephen Dennis, Ryan Gomes, Brian Cook, Chris Kaman, and Jarron Collins. Craig Smith and Willie Warren were also on the white team roster, but were a little banged up and sat out as a precaution.

The blue team roster sported Randy Foye, Eric Gordon, Jon Scheyer, Marqus Blakely, Al-Farouq Aminu, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Jake Voskuhl. Baron Davis was also on the blue team roster, but sat out due to injury.

The white team took early control of the scrimmage behind Chris Kaman’s low post scoring. Kaman had DeAndre Jordan in the popcorn machine all day, pump faking and slithering in and out of tight spaces to finish around the rim. Kaman finished with a game high 12 points in the 40-minute running clock exhibition.

After a relatively wild performance in this year’s Summer League, Eric Bledsoe has looked like a completely different player. Bledsoe controlled the low scoring scrimmage and showed a particularly good rapport with Chris Kaman in the pick and roll. Bledsoe will go through the ups and downs like every other young point guard, but there are signs that the game is starting to slow down a bit for him.

Stephen Dennis looked good for the white team as the second leading scorer behind Kaman with eight points. Dennis did most of his work off the ball, cutting and ending up in good position for wide open looks.

Ryan Gomes looked like the glue guy at the small forward he’s been advertised as. Gomes made all the right ball rotations and created good looks for himself when the defense allowed it. Nothing about his game felt forced. Perhaps most importantly though was Gomes acting as the most vocal player on the floor, something that Vinny Del Negro has craved all throughout training camp.

The blue team struggled to score early on, but Eric Gordon led the charge late in the game. On about five consecutive late series plays, Gordon either scored himself or assisted a teammate. We all know the guy can shoot the lights out, but his ability to routinely split pick and rolls and get in the paint and distribute was impressive.

Blake Griffin was a little passive in the scrimmage, opting to serve as a high post facilitator instead of attacking at every turn. Griffin and a few of his teammates struggled to knock down their open looks, but if the way Jarron Collins defended him serves as any indication, Griffin will have that mid-range jumper whenever he wants it.

DeAndre Jordan had a few thunderous dunks, but it was his effort on pick and roll defense that looked much improved from last year. Jordan is using his incredible athleticism better so far this year by sprinting out to hedge, show, and recover much faster than ever before.

Al-Farouq Aminu couldn’t knock down a few open looks, but his potential is tantalizing nonetheless. Aminu was regularly the first guy out in transition on Sunday and did a good job choosing when to attack the rim and when to slow down and make the right pass.

Photogallery: Camp Pendleton Open Scrimmage »

Play of the Day

The Clippers have a lot of explosive dunkers on their roster. DeAndre Jordan. Blake Griffin. Marqus Blakely. Eric Gordon. Chris Kaman. Wait. Chris Kaman? Although he’s notoriously a finesse type center, Kaman looked anything but Sunday. The play of the day came off a pick and roll with Eric Bledsoe where the young guard drew two defenders after splitting the play. A quick flip back to a trailing Kaman left an open lane to the left, and Kaman took full advantage by tomahawking a left-hand dunk that left the support system rattling well after the play.

For more coverage of the Clippers as they get set to begin their preseason slate, stay tuned to Clippers.com.

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