GAMEDAY REPORT: CLIPPERS VS. TRAIL BLAZERS - 10/18/13
Preseason Game #5 | October 18, 2013
Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES – Darren Collison has said plenty of times how much he loathes losing.
Even in the preseason, the first “point of emphasis” Collison practically ever mentions is about winning. After a pair of 10-assist performances on the road, he was less interested in the stat line and more so on the bottom line, quietly sitting in his locker afterwards. It made sense then on Friday night in his homecoming that the Los Angeles-area native took over the game in the fourth quarter to lead the Clippers back from a double-figure deficit.
The Trail Blazers held on, 94-84, in the Clippers’ preseason home debut, but Collison was the enduring memory.
He was the best player on the floor at times and seemingly managed to make all of the nearly 15,000 fans at Staples Center forget about Blake Griffin’s 18 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes or DeAndre Jordan’s sensational alley-oop in the second quarter.
Of course, the passer on the lob to Jordan was Collison.
“[Collison] was unbelievable,” said Chris Paul, who finished with seven points on 2-for-11 shooting and three assists. “He just plays that way all day, every day. He plays with that intensity. He plays hard and he’ll be a serious weapon for us.”
Collison, who joined the Clippers this summer as a free agent, scored a game-high 31 points with six assists and two steals. He also went 15-of-16 from the foul line.
“If the pass is there then the pass is there,” Collison said, “but if it’s not I’ve got to be able to attack.”
The Clippers, playing with five players inactive, shot just 35.4 percent for the game and did not have a player in double figures other than Collison and Griffin. Still, they helped force 29 Portland turnovers and despite not scoring for nearly four-consecutive minutes to open the game found their way to a 43-42 halftime lead.
“I actually liked the way the game went in the first half because we were really struggling,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “We were missing free throws, dunks, layups, wide-open shots and we had a one-point lead. The good thing to that, what I thought was good for our guys, was that it was a good lesson. You can play pretty awful offense and still win a game. The problem is we continued it in the second half.”
Preseason minutes leader Willie Green was among the inactive Clippers. Green is expected to play in Saturday’s game in Las Vegas. Maalik Wayns (torn meniscus) did not play and J.J. Redick (quad), Matt Barnes (calf) and Reggie Bullock (knee) remained out, but Rivers said prior to the game that trio may be close to returning.
“My vision tells me, it’s probably Matt, Reggie and J.J. in that order,” Rivers said. “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.”
Since the Clippers (4-2) returned from their three-game road trip, it was anticipated that Griffin would not play against Portland either. However, he practiced Thursday and spoke to Rivers after shoot-around.
“I hate sitting out,” Griffin said. “Preseason, whatever, I don’t even like sitting out at practice. I talked to Doc at shoot-around and he was in a good mood, so I waited. I was trying to pick my time the last three days.
“It felt fine. It’s an ankle so it’s not really [anything].”
Griffin and Collison combined to go 14-for-26 in the first three quarters… Jordan had six points, six rebounds and four blocked shots. He has 19 blocks in four preseason games… The Clippers shot 1-for-15 from 3-point range… The Oct. 18 home game was the latest in the preseason they Clippers played their first game at Staples Center since Oct. 20, 2006… The Blazers were without LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews… Former Clipper Mo Williams scored 10 points off the bench. He talked to Paul and Griffin at length in the Clippers locker room after the game…
|Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on the Clippers’ defensive effort:
“I thought we had some unbelievable defensive stretches. The back-to-back 24-second [violations] and right in there. As good as that was for us, they didn’t have some guys as well. So, I don’t get too excited about that stuff.”
|Point guard Chris Paul on Clippers’ offense:
“Our offense has to get a lot better, which that will come. We’ve been so focused on the defensive end and defending, which was great at times tonight. I told [Darren Collison] a couple of times tonight, ‘We exert a lot of energy on the defensive end but we’ve got to find a way to run the offense just as hard.’”
|Blake Griffin on what he’s working on during as the preseason unfolds:
“I’m really trying to get my rhythm down. It’s not really about proving anything or anything like that. We get good work in practice. I’ve felt like my rhythm has been a little off since the start. Sometimes it’s better than others, obviously, but that’s just the main thing I’ve wanted to work on.”
|Darren Collison on finding a balance between scoring and passing throughout his career:
“It depends on the personnel. With the Pacers, going to the Playoffs twice, I played with other good players, so I kind of had to fall back a little as a point guard and we all did it as a team. I was fine with that. I also played in different systems that weren’t necessarily point-guard friendly. In Doc’s system, you know he’s coached [Rajon] Rondo, now he’s coaching [Chris Paul], I get the chance to do my job as a point guard and handle the ball.”
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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.
The Clippers are no strangers to playing the Portland Trail Blazers in the preseason. On Oct. 19 they meet for the second time this season. They defeated Portland, 89-81, in the Rose City in their Oct. 7 preseason opener. The Clippers are 5-15 all-time versus the Blazers in the preseason overall, including losing three of the last five.
GOOD TO BE HOME:
After opening the preseason with four-straight road games, the Clippers return to STAPLES Center for their preseason opener. The Oct. 19 game against the Portland Trail Blazers is the latest October home game for the Clippers in the preseason since they played the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 20, 2006.
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.
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Eric Patten | Follow @EricPatten
LOS ANGELES – The first game at home is always an exciting time, preseason or not. And after a four-game wait since the start of the exhibition schedule the Clippers and Doc Rivers will make their much-anticipated Staples Center debut Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Of course, everything is a bit tempered as the Clippers (3-1) are zeroing in on the regular-season opener 10 nights later. There has been a noticeable arc in the team’s performance through the first half of October. They have installed more plays offensively and even without as many as five of their top eight players at times, they’ve maintained the defensive intensity Rivers has prided himself on throughout his 15-year coaching career.
For Rivers, it’s part of establishing a winning culture.
“We want people to leave the arena, thinking, ‘Man, what a great team,’” Rivers said. “Not, what a great show. Because you can put on a great show and not win. When they say you’re a great team that means you won a lot of games. And we want to be a winning team.”
Friday is the second time the Clippers have faced the Blazers (2-2) in 11 days. They met in Portland on Oct. 7, an 89-81 Clippers victory.
Blake Griffin said there is some value in playing a team for second time.
“I think there’s more value for us and how we play defensively and how we run our sets,” Griffin said. “The preseason is more about us and not so much about the other teams we play.”
THINGS TO WATCH
1. Still on the mend. Several Clippers are still recovering from minor injuries. Griffin sat out the previous two games, including Tuesday in Phoenix, with a sore right ankle. Griffin is considered day-to-day, although Rivers has suggested the Clippers superstar may not play until Saturday’s tilt with the Nuggets in Las Vegas.
Additionally, Maalik Wayns (knee) is out and J.J. Redick (quad), Matt Barnes (calf) and Reggie Bullock (knee) are doubtful for Friday’s game. Griffin said while the injuries are certainly a setback the team did benefit from being mostly at full-strength (sans Bullock) in training camp.
“Matt and J.J. went pretty much the whole time we were in San Diego, so that was good,” Griffin said. “Obviously, missing time hurts a little bit but hopefully they’ll be able to step back in pretty seamlessly.”
2. Attention to detail. Chris Paul, who sat out Monday’s game in Sacramento before scoring a preseason-high 24 points a night later, said he can still pick up a lot from watching.
“I’m watching our sets and trying to see the timing and things,” Paul said. “One of the things I’m learning from Doc is that it’s all about preparation and how he’s all about that. I haven’t played an 82-game season yet since I’ve been in the league, so you just never know what’s going to happen. Everything is just very thorough.”
Against Portland the attention to detail will likely be even greater. The Clippers have a barometer from where they were at in game one, when Rivers described the group as feeling each other out, to now.
3. Rebounding. One of the areas of concerns for Rivers on the road trip was rebounding. In Portland, the Clippers were out-rebounded 50-44, including 17 offensive boards (seven by Robin Lopez). Without DeAndre Jordan and Griffin in Sacramento they gave up 16 offensive rebounds.
For the second time this preseason, LaMarcus Aldridge will sit out against the Clippers. The All-Star forward, according to the team’s official website, will miss Friday’s game with a sore left knee... Jordan has 15 blocks in three games (he sat out in Sacramento)… Portland rookie C.J. McCollum will miss six-plus weeks after undergoing foot surgery… The Clippers are 5-15 all-time in the preseason against Portland… Wayns will have surgery on his torn left meniscus next week… Byron Mullen has gone 12-for-33 from 3-point range (36.4 percent)…
THEY SAID IT
Blake Griffin: “It is very different from preseason to regular season. To me, it’s almost like the jump from regular season to postseason. Guys aren’t trying to get hurt, guys are trying to learn offense, they’re trying to execute. Obviously, you want to win, but it’s just a different feel. For us, I think we’ve been solid in those areas.”
LAST TIME OUT