CLIPPERS PRACTICE SUNDAY, PREPARE FOR PRESEASON OPENER
PLAYA VISTA – Back at home for the first practice since training camp opened on Tuesday, the Clippers seemed anxious to see how they looked against an opponent.
“We’re excited to be able to play,” point guard Chris Paul said Sunday afternoon. “Fighting against each other every day in practice, you’re ready to try it out against other teams.”
The Clippers open the preseason Monday night in Portland against the Trail Blazers, but after taking the day off Saturday they were back on the practice floor a day later.
“I want to see if they can take the execution from practice onto the floor,” Rivers said, looking ahead to game one of the preseason. “We took a day off and it felt like we were starting from scratch again. And that happens when you have a day off, especially your first day off. You come back and tend to be unorganized and that’s what we were today.”
They spent four days of training camp on the campus of UC San Diego, where they practiced six times in the span. The focus of the team’s workouts so far were on the defensive end, something that Rivers is interested in seeing unfold in a game.
“Tomorrow when we have shoot-around we’re not going to go over any of the Portland sets,” Rivers said. “That’s not something you would normally do. I want to see our basic defense play against a team and us not prepare for it, just to see where we are defensively.”
For Paul, who is entering his ninth season and third in Los Angeles, the camp stood out as one of the best of his career.
“It was one of the best camps I’ve been a part of in my nine-year career,” Paul said. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s a lot of work, a lot of attention to detail but it takes out a lot of the guess work. You know where guys are supposed to be.”
JAMISON AND MULLENS ARE ADDED DIMENSION
With two key members of last year’s bench returning in Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes, Darren Collison somewhat takes up the role of Eric Bledsoe as the shifty, high-octane point guard behind Paul. The one thing missing from last season’s reserve unit were big men who could come in and space the floor.
That changed with the acquisitions of Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens this summer. Collison said Sunday that he’s excited at the potential of being able to break down defenses with a pair shooters on the perimeter.
“Anytime you have guys like Byron and Antawn spacing the floor with my speed, good things will happen,” said Colison, who spent the 2012-13 season in Dallas. “It reminds me of playing with Dirk [Nowitzki]. When Dirk first got into the lineup [after coming back from knee surgery], it made my job a lot easier because teams had to pick. If they were going to contain my speed then I’d just kick it out to Dirk or the four or five man for the shot.”
Jamison and Mullens are expected to backup Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan on Monday.