Preseason Game #6 | October 19, 2013
Mandalay Bay Events Center | Las Vegas, NV
Eric Patten | Follow @EricPatten
LAS VEGAS – When Chris Paul and Blake Griffin walked to the scorer’s table with just over eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s preseason game at Mandalay Bay Events Center, it was clear the Clippers were going for the win.
The superstar tandem played regular-season minutes and even though both the Clippers and Denver Nuggets were missing several key players, at times, it felt like November or December not mid-October.
The Clippers prevailed, 118-111, over the Nuggets in overtime in a game made for the Las Vegas Strip.
Paul scored 40 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter and overtime, with 11 assists and seven rebounds. His final field goal, a scoop layup with 22.8 seconds to go, tied the game. And the Clippers stifled Denver on final possession of regulation to force overtime.
In the extra five minutes, Paul promptly turned things over to Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison. The reserve guard duo outscored the Nuggets 11-4 to start overtime, with Collison streaking up the right side for a layup off a dish from Paul and draining a corner 3-pointer to seal it with just over a minute left.
“We’ve been there before,” said Crawford, who had nine points in 16 second-half minutes after volunteering to play despite originally planning to take the night off. “Having guys who can make stuff happen, playmakers, and whoever has it going we can play off each other and I think it’s tough for the defense to deal with.”
Paul had it going Saturday.
“C.P. was in another dimension all night and that’s what we need from him some nights,” Griffin said.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers added: “He was magic. I’ve seen a lot of great performances and that’s another one because the great ones can do that. And he did it because we needed it.”
Paul scored 39 of his 40 points in the final three quarters and overtime. Prior to the game Rivers said there is a “fine line” that exists for Paul between scoring and distributing.
“That line will always be hit or miss for the rest of his life,” Rivers said.
Paul straddled it for the better part of his preseason-high 43 minutes. And when it came time to take the game over in the fourth after he surprisingly returned to the game, Paul was vintage. There was the floater in traffic, the guarded 3-pointer, the daring and improbable baseline turnaround, the craftiness of how he earned his 13 free throws and, of course, the final basket of regulation.
If Paul and Griffin, who added a rugged 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists playing a significant amount of time at the center position after DeAndre Jordan fouled out, coming back to finish a preseason game after exiting late in the third quarter seemed like a surprise, Paul said it shouldn’t be.
“I knew I was coming back. I told Doc, ‘If we’re here I want to play,’” Paul said. “So, he said he wanted to give me like a four-minute rest.”
If Las Vegas is all about the show, the final period Saturday was worth every cent. Both teams exchanged baskets down the stretch and flew around the court as if it meant something more than an exhibition victory.
“We’ve got a lot of fight in us,” Griffin said. “I don’t think you’ll ever see us give up. It comes down to executing late in games and I thought that’s what we did. We found a play that worked for us and went back to us to make them stop us. And then went to another play and made them stop us on that. That’s tough to do.”
Griffin battled the likes of Timofey Mozgov and JaVale McGee throughout the night and set a key screen to free Crawford for his first jumper of overtime, and Darren Collison put in 27 points, giving him 58 in the past two games combined.
The Clippers (4-2) also had their moments defensively, particularly the final possession of regulation when they forced an off-balance fadeaway by McGee that never had a chance.
“Everybody was locked in,” said Willie Green, who played 35:49. “We knew they were going to take the last shot. I happened to be on Andre Miller and having played with him I knew he was capable of hitting big shots at the end, so I just wanted to stay in front of him and stay down on his pump fake.”
A number of players were missing for both teams. J.J. Redick (quad), Matt Barnes (calf), Reggie Bullock (knee) and Maalik Wayns (knee) sat out for the Clippers, while the Nuggets were without Nate Robinson, Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler… The Clippers were 1-9 in their previous 10 preseason games against Denver but have won two in a row… A basket on Denver’s final possession could have resulted in the exact score from last year. The 2012 Vegas game was tied at 104 when Ty Lawson made a layup to win it at the buzzer. This time Lawson didn’t get a chance and the game went to overtime… Eight players scored in double figures for Denver… Paul has only topped 40 points five times in the regular season in his career… The Clippers scored 72 points in the second half and ovetime… Jordan fouled out but still managed nine points and seven rebounds…
THEY SAID IT
Jamal Crawford: “I think the excitement of coming to Vegas. We had a lot of fans here. It felt like a home game. We were here last year and it’s always exciting. It was a good game last year I think they beat us at the buzzer and we went to overtime this year, so it’s two good games for the Vegas fans.”
|Chris Paul and Blake Griffin Named to 2014 All-NBA Team June 04, 2014||Chris Paul All-Defensive First Team June 02, 2014||Spirit Dance Team: Clippers vs. Thunder | Game 6 | 5/15/2014 May 16, 2014||Game Action: Clippers vs. Thunder: Game 6 | 5/15/2014 May 16, 2014|
|Clippers vs. Thunder: Game 6 | 5/15/2014 May 15, 2014||Game 5 | Clippers vs. Thunder | 5/13/2014 May 13, 2014|
Clippers point guard Chris Paul on where the game changed:
“I think we started off kind of slow and flat and that starts with me, Blake and [DeAndre Jordan] as the leaders of the team. I think what we did was picked up the defense a little bit and we started pushing the tempo of the game a little bit.”
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on bringing Jamal Crawford into the game even though he was originally schedule for a night off:
“At halftime [Jamal] said, ‘Coach, I’m good. Just play me and I’m good.’ That really helped us because if you think about it we would have had to play Willie [Green] or [Jared Dudley] whatever minutes so that really helped us. That was a great team move by Jamal Crawford.”
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford on his decision to play tonight:
“There was a moment when we were down and I went to coach and said ‘I’ll play’. He said, ‘Are you serious?’ because it was my day off. So at halftime I started stretching. I didn’t even have a uniform on. I went and put my uniform on and started stretching. My teammates and coaches put me in a good position and I got the rhythm.”
Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw on whether or not he viewed the Clippers as a championship contender when he interviewed for head coaching position in June:
“I did and I do, especially with Doc Rivers coming in now. Obviously, he has championship experience, players around the league respect him as a coach, his coaching staff is very solid and has a good rapport with the players as well… When you have Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, who’s still ascending, and DeAndre Jordan is also ascending. You add guys like J.J. Redick and [Byron] Mullens and [Antawn] Jamison who are going to space the floor. You still have the toughness of Matt Barnes. They’re a good team that can play a multitude of styles.”
Clippers forward Blake Griffin on executing down the stretch:
“We try to put ourselves in situations like that in practice, end of game situations where we are down three with whatever left. Anytime you have an actual live chance at it, it’s good for us.”
Click here for complete game notes »
In the last 11 seasons the Clippers have played 74 preseason games, compiling a record of 40-34 (.541). They have opened the last four preseasons on the road. The 2013-14 preseason marks the third time in that span the Clippers have played at least their first three games to open the exhibition schedule on the road. Last season, the team played a “home” game in Las Vegas before traveling to China to face the Miami Heat in Beijing and Shanghai as part of the NBA’s Global Games. Overall, the Clippers have opened the preseason in six of the last nine years with at least three-straight road games.
The Clippers are 9-3 in their last 12 preseason games, but the franchise owns a 110-134 (.451) record since their preseason debut on Sept. 29, 1978 against the Milwaukee Bucks in San Diego.
CLIPPERS BACK IN BLUE:
The Clippers unveiled a new “Back in Blue” short-sleeve alternate uniform on Media Day that will be worn for Sunday home games throughout the 2013-14 season. The alternate uniforms will debut on-court on Oct. 19 during a preseason game against the Denver Nuggets in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Designed by Adidas, the uniforms are inspired by heritage of the Clippers organization and the Nautical culture of the southern California area. The “Back in Blue” uniform features light blue color for the first time since the team was based in San Diego. Light blue has a rich history with the organization and has been a part of the team’s identity since they were the Buffalo Braves in the1970’s. The lightweight woven shorts feature three iconic nautical flags to represent each of the team’s letters – L-A-C- to stand for Los Angeles Clippers.
TRAINING IN SAN DIEGO:
The Clippers held training camp for the 2013-14 season on the campus of University of California, San Diego. The team traveled to UCSD on Sept. 30, following Media Day at the Clippers Training Center, and conducted practices at RIMAC Arena from Oct.1-4, before returning to Los Angeles. They held morning and evening practices on Oct. 1 and 2 before practicing in the morning only the following two days.
On June 24, Glenn “Doc” Rivers was named the Clippers’ Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach. The Clippers signed Rivers after the Boston Celtics agreed to release him from his contract in exchange for a first round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft as compensation. Rivers spent nine seasons with the Celtics, compiling a 416-305 (.576) record and guiding the Celtics to the 2007-08 NBA Championship with an NBA-best 66-16 regular season record. Rivers led the Celtics to six Atlantic Division titles, the 2009-10 Eastern Conference Championship and a 59-47 (.556) Playoff record during his tenure. A former Clippers point guard (1991-92), Rivers returns to Los Angeles to be the 16th head coach in Los Angeles Clippers history (1984-Present) and is the fourth Clippers coach to have previously earned the NBA Coach of the Year Award (1999-2000), joining Gene Shue, Bill Fitch and Mike Dunleavy. He is the first coach in Clippers history to have previously played for the team.
The Clippers introduced six players in an all-encompassing press conference on July 10, including announcing the re-signings of superstar point guard Chris Paul, forward Matt Barnes and center Ryan Hollins as well as the acquisitions of guards Darren Collison and J.J. Redick and forward Jared Dudley. Collison joined the Clippers as an unrestricted free agent after a season with the Dallas Mavericks. Redick and Dudley were acquired via a three-team trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. In exchange for Redick and Dudley, the Clippers sent point guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Caron Butler to the Suns as well as a future second round pick to the Bucks. The Suns also shipped a future second round pick to Milwaukee.
Click here for complete game notes »
Eric Patten | Follow @EricPatten
LAS VEGAS – For the second year in a row the world famous Las Vegas Strip is calling.
The Clippers (3-2), who travel to the desert a night after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in their preseason home debut, enter the home stretch of the preseason in Saturday night’s matchup with the Denver Nuggets at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The Nuggets upended the Clippers in the preseason opener at Mandalay Bay last season, 106-104, on a Ty Lawson layup in the final seconds. This time around, the Clippers are already five games into their eight-game exhibition slate and are continuing to make strides towards putting in their offensive and defensive systems under new head coach Doc Rivers.
After Friday’s game, Rivers said he felt like his team was ahead of the curve defensively, something that comes as somewhat of a surprise.
“Defensively, we’re ahead of schedule, I’ll say that,” Rivers said. “That’s unusual. Usually, it’s the exact opposite. That part of it is actually a good one. I think the reason we are is that D.J. (DeAndre Jordan) and Blake [Griffin] have bought in and when you get your 4 and your 5 to buy in pretty much everybody follows.”
Denver (2-2) presents an interesting test for the Clippers’ defense. Even with Head Coach Brian Shaw replacing George Karl and the departure of star Andre Iguodala, the Nuggets are expected to remain an up-tempo team. They led the league in scoring per game last season (106.1) and can play athletes at all five spots. Rivers has been displeased throughout the preseason with his team’s transition defense, which will certainly be a point of emphasis Saturday .
THINGS TO WATCH
1. #BackinBlue. After showing off their baby blue uniforms on Media Day, the Clippers will debut the “Back in Blue” look in Vegas. The uniforms are revisiting the past, which includes the team’s Buffalo and San Diego days when they wore a similar base color for their road uniforms, as well as looking towards the future with short-sleeve jerseys and the modern “Los Angeles” script across the chest.
2. Blake returns. Griffin, who had been nursing a sore right ankle, played Friday and said he expects to be on the court again Saturday. He scored 18 points on 9-for-19 shooting against the Blazers but did not show any ill effects. Rivers said he left whether or not Griffin would play up to his three-time All-Star.
“He wanted to play,” Rivers said. “You build the trust and he was fine. That’s basically what you do in the locker room, you build the trust and find out if you can trust the guy. He practiced [Thursday] at 100 percent and he went through the whole practice.”
3. Injury update. Prior to the Portland game, Rivers said he hoped Matt Barnes, Reggie Bullock and J.J. Redick will be ready to play soon. “My vision tells me, it’s probably Matt, Reggie and J.J. in that order. But I think we’ll have all of them back in the next week or so. I just don’t know that for a fact.” They are not expected to play in Vegas. Maalik Wayns (torn left meniscus) is out and Jamal Crawford (rest) is also expected to take the night off.
According to Nuggets.com, Kenneth Faried and Nate Robinson did not practice Friday due to hamstring injuries and Darrell Arthur sat out because of a bruised left quad. Faried and Robinson are questionable for Saturday night, while Arthur is a game-time decision.
The Clippers are 1-9 in their last 10 preseason games against Denver, including last season’s loss in Vegas. The only victory came in the 2012-13 preseason finale… Former Clippers guard Randy Foye is now a member of the Nuggets. He is shooting just 40 percent from the field in four preseason games… Saturday night is the third game on the Las Vegas Strip in NBA history. The Clippers played at Mandalay Bay last season and the Lakers played the Kings at MGM earlier this preseason…
THEY SAID IT
Blake Griffin: “Defense has been the emphasis and it should be. If you look at us the last couple of years, you wouldn’t say our defense was ahead of our offense.”
LAST TIME OUT