CHRISTMAS BACK-TO-BACK A ‘GOOD TEST’ FOR CLIPPERS

PLAYA VISTA – Golden State on Christmas and Portland a night later. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Clippers during the holidays.

“It’s a good test for us,” Blake Griffin said. “I think we’re excited about the opportunity to play two very good teams and in this fashion and on a back-to-back.”

The Clippers (20-9), riding a season-long five-game win streak, practiced Tuesday afternoon just hours before leaving they were bound for the Bay Area for the finale of the NBA’s five-game Christmas special against the Golden State Warriors. They tipoff less than 24 hours after that in Portland where the Blazers, who own the best record in the Western Conference, have won 11 out of 13 games.

It is two of the best home-court advantages in the NBA and with the Clippers in town it could be even more raucous. Matt Barnes, who played two seasons with the Warriors in 2006-07 and 2007-08, said Oracle Arena is the most hostile environment he’s taken the court. But Portland is not far off.

“It’s arguably the second toughest place to play,” Matt Barnes said. “There are a lot of outside distractions going on, but to test our team and see we’re at, these are good stepping stones or measuring points for us.”

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers agreed.

 “Two great teams, two great teams at home,” Rivers said. “It is a test we should be really excited for and looking forward to. It should be a lot of fun.”

BARNES COMMENTS ON FLAGRANT FOUL BEING DOWNGRADED

The NBA announced Monday that Barnes was fined $25,000 for not leaving the court in a timely manner following his ejection Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Barnes received an automatic ejection after he was called for a Flagrant Foul 2 after officials reviewed Barnes’ hard swipe at the ball against Minnesota’s Kevin Love. The play was downgraded to Flagrant 1 by the league on Monday.

“Everyone in the world knew it wasn’t a Flagrant 2 to begin with,” Barnes said. “I looked at it numerous times and didn’t think it was a Flagrant 2. Then I ask for an explanation and get fined for that. It’s frustrating.”

Rivers said he thought all along the foul would be downgraded, but understood why Barnes was fined.

“I knew he would [get fined],” Rivers said. “He stayed on the floor. When you stay on the floor, you get fined, bottom line. The disappointing part about that, and where I still have an issue, is that it was the wrong call. They pulled it back and said it was a Flagrant 1. So, if they’d have made the right call to begin with, Matt wouldn’t have been upset at being thrown out of the game because he wouldn’t have been thrown out of the game. And he would have saved himself $25,000. The first action that was wrong is what led to the second action, which was wrong also. But Matt’s the only who gets fined here.”