CLIPPERS TAKE ‘FIRST STEPS’ IN PRESEASON OPENER
PLAYA VISTA - There was plenty to take away from the first of his team’s eight preseason games, but overall Doc Rivers sounded happy with what he saw Monday night in Portland.
“We just have to keep working defensively and offensively,” Rivers said prior to Tuesday afternoon’s practice at the Clippers Training Center. “Offensively, I’m not that concerned. It’s just timing. We don’t have half of our stuff in. I, honestly, liked the effort and the buy-in. That’s the first step, everything else follows.”
The Clippers are implementing new systems on offense and defense and so far it appears the defense is a little ahead. In Monday’s 89-81 win they held the Trail Blazers to 35.9 percent shooting and forced 23 turnovers, including 13 from Portland’s starters.
“I thought we were really good defensively, even though they scored 81,” shooting guard Jamal Crawford said. “They would have got less than that. I remember playing against those old Boston teams and everybody hated playing against them. It was almost like you were playing against a zone all the time. We weren’t necessarily there last night, but I saw the potential for us to get there. We have athletes and guys who can cover ground and cover for each other and as the trust goes on and the more games we’ll play I think we’ll get better at it.”
Blake Griffin, who had 14 points in 24 minutes against the Blazers, agreed with Crawford in terms of the team’s defensive performance.
“Last night at times, we looked good, especially defensively,” Griffin said.” We did some good things offensively as well, but it’s one of those things where you kind of have to work into.”
CRAWFORD ADJUSTING TO ROLE
Jamal Crawford went scoreless in a reserve role against Portland, but Rivers said it was likely a product of playing with four players who had spent little time on the court together. Matt Barnes (calf) missed the game and Crawford came off the bench alongside newcomers Darren Collison, Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison and starter Willie Green.
“In real games he’ll be on the floor a lot with Chris,” Rivers said. “So, I don’t think it will be that big of an adjustment at all.”
There were times, though, in which Crawford appeared tentative. In Associate Head Coach Alvin Gentry’s offensive system, the West’s leading scorer off the bench last season is trying to strike a balance between moving the ball and getting his own shot.
“I’m trying to make other people better,” Crawford said Tuesday. “I don’t want to feel out of place by just going outside of the system. There were a bunch of times I could have easily gone 1-on-1 or whatever, but I was would feel out place if I did that.
“If I can master it or be good at it, I think it adds a different element that I haven’t necessarily had. If I can be good at both, I think it just gives us more options.”
BARNES, REDICK AND BULLOCK REMAIN OUT
Barnes, J.J. Redick (thigh contusion) and Reggie Bullock (sore right knee) sat out in Portland and remained out of practice Tuesday. Barnes was expected to be involved in some light elements of the workout.
Rivers sounded unconcerned about the trios injuries and said he's merely exercising caution at this stage of the schedule.