Preseason Game #3 | October 14, 2013
Sleep Train Arena | Sacramento, CA

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RECAP

SACRAMENTO – With four regular-season starters never removing their warmups Monday night, the Clippers were severely undermanned in the middle game of their three-game preseason road trip.

Two days ago, Head Coach Doc Rivers hinted that he may rest a few players at some point, and he chose Monday, the first game of a back-to-back. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan sat out and J.J. Redick (quad), Matt Barnes (calf) and Reggie Bullock (knee) remained sidelined. The latter three have yet to play in the preseason.

After point guard Maalik Wayns hyper-extended his left knee in the second quarter, the Clippers were left with eight available players in their 99-88 loss to the Kings in the first game at Sleep Train Arena since the end of the 2012-13 regular season.

“I didn’t think we were very organized offensively,” Rivers said. “Blake’s a player-maker. Chris is a play-maker. And we had J.J. sitting on the bench. It took a lot of play-makers off the floor and we probably had guys making plays that we probably shouldn’t have.

“I didn’t mind some of the shots we took. We just couldn’t make shots.”

The Clippers shot 34-of-82 (41.5 percent) from the field and were 13-of-35 (37.1 percent) from beyond the 3-point line. Still, there were a handful of bright spots thanks to Darren Collison’s 20 points and 10 assists and a 25-point effort from Jamal Crawford.

Collison looked like the best player on the court at times. He was a water bug, darting between creases offensively and causing trouble with his ball pressure on all three Kings point guards. He had four steals, a number of deflections and helped keep the Clippers (2-1) close in a game they otherwise may have been blown out.

“I think it’s still a work in progress, obviously,” Crawford said. “I’m trying to learn a way to play that I haven’t necessarily done in the past and try to incorporate it with how I normally play. Tonight I had pretty good bounce.”

The first half, in particular, belonged to Collison and Crawford, who entered the night with just four points in the previous two preseason games. Crawford played 30 minutes overall and his team-high 25 points came on 9-of-14 shooting. Through three games, he is still trying to strike a balance between being a featured scorer and cog in the Clippers’ offensive system. On Monday, in extended minutes, he appeared closer to finding it.  

Byron Mullens added 16 points, including going 4-of-12 from 3-point range and Willie Green scored a dozen points. Mullens, Collison, Green, Lou Amundson and Jared Dudley started for the Clippers.

“I think there are still positives and negatives to take out of this game,” Green said. “The positives are that we ran our offense well, we got good looks. We’ve just got to knock them down. The negatives:  we’ve got to do better on the defensive end, especially rebounding. If we do that and defend without fouling it’s a different ballgame.”

DeMarcus Cousins, who recently signed a multi-year contract extension to stay with the Kings, scored 25 of his 31 points in the opening two periods. He bulled his way to a double-double on 11-of-18 shooting.

“He is a load,” Kings head coach Mike Malone said of Cousins. “He had a physical presence in the paint and got to the foul line.”

Cousins grabbed 11 rebounds. The Clippers had 29 as a team, which explains why Rivers sounded aggravated about his team’s performance around the rim in his postgame media session.

“I thought they were just tougher than us,” Rivers said. “If you look at our defense it wasn’t bad, but if you look at our second shots it was awful. They killed us on the glass tonight and I thought that hurt us.”

NOTES

X-Rays on Wayns’ knee were negative. He will be reevaluated Tuesday… “Come Sail Away” by Styx was the song used when the Clippers starting lineup was introduced… It was the first home game for the Kings since the team was announced as staying in Sacramento. Mayor Kevin Johnson and several members of his family were in attendance courtside... The Clippers made double-figure 3-pointers for the second game in a row. They had 11 in their 32-point win at Utah and went 13-for-35 on Monday in Sacramento… Kings guard Greivis Vasquez played 11:08, his first minutes of the preseason… The Clippers are 9-4 in their last 13 preseason games…

QUOTES

Doc Rivers Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on team toughness:
“The only negative of tonight was just team toughness and rebounding and the other one is I thought our guys got down quickly tonight. They didn’t have a Chris [Paul] or a Blake [Griffin] or a DJ [DeAndre Jordan] to lift them up and to tell them to keep playing.”
 Jamal Crawford Clippers guard Jamal Crawford on positives to take away from game:
“I thought that we had good shots. I thought that we moved the ball well. I don’t know how many assist we got but it would have been doubled if we made some shots.”
 Thomas Kings guard Isaiah Thomas on the fourth quarter:
“Every coach is going to be mad if you don’t finish it off and we didn’t finish it off too well. That happens. We’ve got to control the game more, especially when we control it the first three quarters. We’ve got to seal the deal and end the game on the right note.”
 Willie Green Clippers guard Willie Green on feeling healthy after fighting through a meniscus injury in 2012-13:
“I’m thankful to be healthy. It’s definitely a blessing to be at full strength. I’m going out every game and just trying to get better so I can contribute.”

VIDEO

PREGAME REPORT

SACRAMENTO – The Clippers stop in California’s capital Monday night for the middle of their three-game preseason road trip.

It is the first Kings home game at Sleep Train Arena since the Clippers closed the regular season in the 25-year-old building on April 17. That was thought to be potentially their final appearance in Sacramento, but a new ownership group and revived plan for a state-of-the-art downtown arena kept the Kings in town.

Now, the Clippers (2-0) return to the city where they clinched home court advantage in the first round of the 2012 Playoffs. Through two preseason games, the Clippers have shown steady improvement, epitomized by a dominant defensive performance Saturday against the Utah Jazz. Reserve point guard Darren Collison, who two steals and 10 assists in Salt Lake City, says continuing the defensive effort will be a key component to closing out the trip, which ends in Phoenix a day later.

“Just finish out strong, especially defensive-wise,” Collison said. “We can’t have any lapses. I know it’s just preseason but at the same time we want to stay consistent. Don’t get too much caught up in what we’re trying to do offensively and just keeping plugging on defense.”

That will start, as it has in the previous two games, with DeAndre Jordan, who will matchup with Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins. Both Cousins and Jordan were members the Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas this summer.

THINGS TO WATCH

1. Big men running the floor. Against Utah the Clippers made 11 3-pointers and had plenty of space to operate offensively. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers credited Jordan and Blake Griffin with running the floor, which he thinks helped open things up.

“What’s happening a lot is our bigs are running the floor and they don’t get the ball,” Rivers said postgame Saturday. “But they’re creating baskets because they’re running the floor. I know we had at least three [3-pointers] because Blake or D.J. ran the floor. They’d drag the guards in and now you’ve got the ball in one of your great passers’ hands and he’s going to find the open man.”

The trend could continue Monday. The Kings gave up 35.5 percent 3-point shooting to opponents last year and allowed 21.5 attempts from deep per game (eighth most in the NBA).  

2. Vasquez debut. After being held out of the Kings’ previous two preseason games as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery, Greivis Vasquez will make his debut against the Clippers Monday, wrote Yahoo’s Marc J. Spears. Vasquez, who averaged career highs in assists (nine) and points (13.9) in New Orleans last season, struggled mightily in his final two games against Chris Paul. The Clippers’ superstar shutdown Vasquez, holding the now fourth-year point guard to 2.0 points and 11.4 percent shooting. In two games this preseason Paul is averaging 10.5 points, 7.5 assists and 7.0 rebounds in a shade under 24 minutes per game.  

NOTES

Sacramento native Matt Barnes (sore left calf) is not expected to play. J.J. Redick (left quad contusion) and Reggie Bullock (sore right knee) are also out… Griffin scored 12 points in Utah despite tweaking his right ankle in the first quarter and playing through a left knee bone bruise. Rivers said he is not concerned about his star forward’s injury woes of late… Carl Landry (quad) and Luc Mbah a Moute (sore knee) may not play for the Kings, according to the Sacramento Bee... The Clippers have won three preseason games in a row against the Kings, boosting their overall record in the exhibition season to 8-9 versus Sacramento…  

THEY SAID IT

Darren Collison: “If we want to get to where we want to go in the long haul, defense has got to be the key.”

LAST TIME OUT

RECAP » | BOX SCORE »


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SACRAMENTO KINGS (1-1)

Kings Leaders:
Pts: Outlaw 18
Reb: Cousins 12
Ast: Thomas 9

BOX SCORE »


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