CLIPPERS STRIVE FOR CONTINUITY IN PRESEASON’S FINAL WEEK
PLAYA VISTA – For the rest of October, the Clippers will not leave Los Angeles.
After five preseason games away from home, they close out the remaining portion of the exhibition schedule with a pair of games at Staples Center before opening the season on Oct. 29 in a “road” game against the Lakers.
Prior to practice Monday, the first since a 118-111 overtime win in Las Vegas Saturday, forward Blake Griffin said there are benefits for the team having an extended stay at home.
“Everybody [can] get their routine and kind of get used to it again,” said Griffin, who played a preseason-high 39 minutes in Vegas. “This next week or however long we’re at home will be good for us.”
Asked how his team can take advantage of the time, Head Coach Doc Rivers said, “You get to practice. You don’t have to travel. You can practice after the games, which is a lot easier than when you travel back. But those practices are horrendous. You have them, but they’re not very good practices. At least now, we’ll play and then practice the next day and we can get in a rhythm of being at home. That’s nice.”
The Clippers have won four of their six preseason games, including two of the last three. But Rivers said Monday that they still have a ways to go in order to get down everything the coaching staff is demanding.
“Our continuity offensively and defensively, getting it down better,” Rivers said. “When you first start with a new team and you put in a lot of stuff [the players] do it, but they don’t do it well. So, now we have to get to the point where we’re doing the things that we’ve put in well.”
That process will be aided by the possible return of Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick and Reggie Bullock in the near future. Redick, who has been out with a left quad contusion for two weeks, and Bullock (sore right knee) returned to practice Monday, while Barnes continues to nurse a sore left calf.
Redick and Barnes are expected to be integral members of the Clippers’ rotation and Griffin is looking forward to their return to the lineup.
“When J.J. and Matt come back it’s still going to be a bit of a process, but that week that we put in kind of laid that foundation,” Griffin said.
“Matt brings defensive toughness. He brings a guy that knows what he’s doing. He’s always moving on offense, always cutting. J.J. obviously brings another shooter, another high basketball IQ, a guy that can really affect the game on both ends.”
STAPLES CENTER REDOCRATED
Clippers fans may have noticed a new look on the west end of Staples Center in Friday’s home debut against the Portland Trail Blazers with signage displaying images of Griffin, Redick, Barnes, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Jared Dudley and Jamal Crawford hanging from the rafters.
Rivers explained the team’s decision to add the signage to their arena décor.
“The culture is changing and we want to be a winner and to do that I think we have to make changes,” Rivers said Monday before practice. “At Staples Center is one [change] that I thought we needed to make. We don’t leave a Lakers floor down, do we? And they don’t play on the Clippers floor. They take it up. That’s all we’re saying. It’s no disrespect and all that stuff. I have an amazing amount of respect for the Lakers. Having said that, I work for the Clippers. When we play it should be the Clippers’ arena. I would say [the Lakers] probably feel the same way when they play and that’s all it is.”
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
After the Clippers game Friday, Griffin said it is a “cool thing” to see the images up there.
“It’s not one of those situations where we’re trying to take anything away from the Lakers,” Griffin said. “I mean, those banners are still there. They’re still going to be there when they play. It’s our home court and it’s how it’s going to be when we’re at home. It’s not like a disrespect thing to the Lakers by any means. They’re the team that has the championships and they’ve won all those and they deserve that. But when we play I think it’s a cool thing that it’s us up there.”