Preseason Game #1 | October 7, 2013
Moda Center | Portland, OR

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- TOP PERFORMERS -


16 POINTS 5 ASSISTS 8 REBOUNDS (T) 4 BLOCKS
JORDAN PAUL PAUL & JORDAN JORDAN


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Clippers

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LOGO

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RECAP

PORTLAND  – In many ways, Monday night’s preseason opener at Moda Center was more than that.

After a historic 2012-13 season and an offseason that netted Head Coach Doc Rivers and saw Chris Paul re-sign, the Clippers are entering uncharted territory as a franchise. Rivers has talked habitually about embracing expectations. Monday was the first look at how his team might deal with them.

For the most part, according to Rivers, they got off to a solid start.

“I didn’t think there was a lot of bad, honestly,” Rivers said. “I thought our defense was terrific.”

The Clippers led the Portland Trail Blazers by as many as 16 points and only briefly trailed en route to an 89-81 victory. It is the second time in five years the Clippers have won their preseason debut.

On Monday they did it with DeAndre Jordan looking like the player Rivers has called one of the best in camp, Blake Griffin showing a willingness to shoot from outside of 20 feet without hesitation, Paul leading and the group, for the most part, playing the kind of defense Rivers is known for.

“There are going to be nights when our offense isn’t there, but our defense has to play well,” said Willie Green, who scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting in place of J.J. Redick. “I thought tonight was a great example of D.J., Blake and those guys down low just anchoring our defense. It allowed us to get out and run and get some easy baskets.”

It was Jordan’s defense in particular that staked the Clippers to an early 15-4 lead. He had two steals, three blocks and two rebounds less than six minutes into the first quarter.

“Very similar to what we’ve been saying all of training camp, DeAndre Jordan, he gets the game ball tonight,” Paul said. “His energy is what we all fed off of.”

Jordan finished with a game-high 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Paul had 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists. And Griffin scored 14 points with four assists. All three played 24 minutes or fewer.

“I think we went out and had a solid effort tonight,” Green said. “I thought our defense was pretty solid and that enabled us to get easy baskets, so I think we’ll go back to the film and see how we can get better from there.”

Redick (thigh contusion), forward Matt Barnes (calf) and rookie Reggie Bullock (knee) sat out with injuries, but Rivers described all three as “nothing serious.” But even without two players who figure to be among the top eight in the rotation, the Clippers spent most of Monday finding their way as team with what could be as many as seven or eight new faces once the regular season comes around on Oct. 29.

And if Monday night is any indicator that will start on the defensive end. The Clippers held Portland to 35.9 percent shooting, forced 23 turnovers and effectively shut down reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, who finished with 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting with six assists and three turnovers in 25 minutes. 

“I think our defense was pretty good tonight,” Paul said. “We didn’t start off as well as we’d like to, but we were really good defensively in spurts.”

Rivers added: “We’re just trying to get them to see, defense has to be all the time. Offense is going to fail you at times. You’re going to miss wide-open shots, you can’t control that. But you can control your emotions when you miss it.”

NOTES

The Clippers scored on 15 of their final 17 possessions of the first half, turning a two-point deficit into a 13-point halftime lead… The Moda Center game operations staff used a clip of Daniel LaRusso executing his crane kick in the final scenes of the original “Karate Kid” film and the words “Nice Shot” flashing on the screen… LaMarcus Aldridge, Earl Watson, Mo Williams an Dorell Wright sat out for Portland with nagging injuries…  Jordan and Griffin went 8-of-9 combined from the foul line and the Clippers were 26-of-31 (83.9 percent) as a team… Rookie Brandon Davies played 6:46 and scored on a backdoor lob from Maalik Wayns in the fourth quarter, his only points of the game…

QUOTES


DJ DeAndre Jordan on how his defense can set the tone for his offense:
“I just feel like with us getting stops if I can get a block or play great pick-and-roll defense and Chris [Paul] gets a steal, or we limit them to one shot then that gets us out on the break. I feel like when we’re running nobody can match up with us.”
 Willie Willie Green on team’s defensive mentality:
“There are going to be nights when our offense isn’t there, but our defense has to play well. I thought tonight was a great example of D.J., Blake [Griffin] and those guys down low just anchoring our defense. It allowed us to get out and run and get some easy baskets.”
 CP3 Chris Paul on getting back on the court for the preseason opener:
“I was sucking wind out there to start the game off. It was the first one. It just feels good to get out there back on the court. We love to play and it’s good to play against somebody other than each other.”
 Doc Doc Rivers on DeAndre Jordan’s performance:
“He’s our captain on defense and he proved that tonight that he’s going to be a force defensively in our league and that’s good for him.”

PHOTOS

PREGAME REPORT

PORTLAND - Training camp is over. Let the preseason begin.

For the second time in four seasons, the Clippers open the exhibition schedule in Portland against the Trail Blazers. It is NBA game in the Pacific Northwest since the Rose Garden has been rechristened as Moda Center, the site of Sunday's fan fest for Blazers fans.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers is placing more emphasis on this year's preseason slate than might typically be expected. The team has 11 new players on its 18-man roster, and Monday will be the first opportunity to see how well the group gelled after a five-day stay in San Diego for the opening of training camp.

"For this team, I think preseason is really important because it allows us to get on the same page," Rivers said Sunday before the Clippers departed Los Angeles.

Among the first orders of business for Rivers will be determining his starting five. Through a week of camp, the first unit has consisted of incumbent starters Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as well as newcomers J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley on the wings. Those five are expected to start in Portland.

The question from there will be how much Rivers utilizes his rotation players?

"I'm really going to go let my eyes tell me," Rivers said. "I tend to play guys a little bit more in the first game, then back them off and then ramp them back up."
THINGS TO WATCH

1. Defensive learning curve. Rivers said the Clippers will not review Portland's offensive sets in shoot-around Monday morning Instead he wants his team to use the base defense that they've been learning and let the game unfold from there.

After Sunday's practice Paul talked about working through new systems on both ends of the floor in a live game setting.

"Probably to see how well we do defensively playing against somebody else," Paul said. "We know what it looks like in practice with the coaches' voices all through practice, but now it's going to be our voices. It's going to be interesting to see how it translates because also in practice it's controlled. You know, coaches can stop it and say, 'This ain't right.' In a game we've got to keep playing."

2. Familiar faces in PDX. Portland is bringing back seven rotation players from last season, including four starters, so there will likely be an element of familiarity against a team the Clippers went 3-1 against in the regular season in 2012-13. However, the Blazers bolstered their league-worst scoring bench with former Clippers guard Mo Williams and sharp-shooter Dorell Wright.

Additionally, Robin Lopez, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in four games against the Clippers while with New Orleans, is projected to be the new starter at center.

3. Still about the 'W.' The Clippers went 5-3 in the preseason in 2012 and own a 38-34 preseason record in the last decade. Reserve point guard Darren Collison said even though the games don't count, the team's mindset can set the tone for the early portion of the regular-season schedule.

"I think just going out there and just competing," Collison said. "I understand it's our first game and we're not necessarily going to be at our best. Just go out there and compete and win. I think you can't take these preseason games lightly. You're going to have fun, but at the same time you've got to compete to win."

The intensity of the week's practices could (and should) carry over into Monday night. The Clippers were rewarded with an off day Saturday after they had "playoff level" practices over a four-day span in San Diego.

"If we compete [like we have this whole week] tomorrow, then we should be fine," Collison added. "We have a lot of guys that are veterans that know where they're supposed to be on the offensive and defensive endナ getting familiar with one another, continuing to play with each other. We're going to get used to each other, we'll be fine."

NOTES

Monday is the first of two 2013-14 preseason games between L.A. and Portland. They meet again at Staples Center on Oct. 18ナ Both teams first round picks in 2013 are not expected to play. No. 25 pick Reggie Bullock (sore right knee) is listed as doubtful and No. 10 pick C.J. McCollum (broken left foot) is outナ More injuries: According to the Oregonian, Williams (ankle), Wright (finger) and All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge (quad) returned to practice Saturday after nursing injuries throughout the week, while Will Barton (concussion) and Earl Watson (calf) remained outナ Including Griffin, Paul and second-year man Damian Lillard, the game features three of the last eight winners of the NBA Rookie of the Year award (Griffin and Lillard were the last two unanimous winners)ナ Portland is 31-12 all-time in preseason openers, including winning the last six years in a rowナ The Clippers are 5-6 in preseason openers since 2002-03ナ
THEY SAID IT

Chris Paul: "This is a new system for all of us. I was telling Doc and Coach [Alvin] Gentry earlier that I'm going to need them these first few games to tell me the plays and stuff like that until I get accustomed to it."