DEL NEGRO LOOKING TO 'FINE-TUNE THINGS' HEADING INTO OPENER
PLAYA VISTA–With six days between their final preseason game and next week’s season opener, the Clippers have time to prepare and get a little healthier.
The team conducted a two-hour practice Saturday morning, working on everything from pick-and-roll defense to situational in-bounds plays. For Head Coach Vinny Del Negro, the next few days will be about building a foundation for the early stages of the season.
“Everyone sees the opening coming and the level goes up and hopefully the concentration and the fluidity of things in terms of how smooth things look gets better,” he said. “But it’s not going to happen by Wednesday, it’s going to be a progression.”
The Clippers are off Sunday and practice Monday and Tuesday before opening the regular season Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Asked what he’d like to accomplish between now and then Del Negro said, “Keep fine-tuning stuff. We are adding some things, talking about things, going over things at both ends of the court in a lot of situational things and just kind of mixing and matching guys. Hopefully, we get some good practice in on Monday and Tuesday and go from there.”
Forward Matt Barnes sat out for precautionary reasons with a “twisted ankle” that he sustained in the Clippers’ preseason finale against Denver. Del Negro said Barnes, who appeared in all eight exhibition games, will be “fine.” Lamar Odom and Grant Hill were also held out of practice as they continue to rest bone bruises in their knees.
Odom and Hill will continue to be evaluated each day as to their status, but Del Negro wants to make sure the team is “smart” about how they handle both veterans.
“We’ve got some veteran guys that mean a lot to our season and we want to be more cautious, especially this early on,” Del Negro said, referring to Odom, Hill and guard Chauncey Billups who’s in the final phase of his recovery from a torn left Achilles tendon. “And these guys know their bodies and I have a lot of confidence in our medical staff, so we’ll just take it, the old cliché, a day at a time, look at where everybody is and incorporate them. When they tell me they’re ready to go and they get clearance and they’ll be out there.”
JORDAN TALKS ABOUT DOUBLE-TEAMS
DeAndre Jordan, who was among the league leaders in field goal percentage this preseason, was double-teamed on a few possessions Thursday against the Denver Nuggets. He said it was the first time since his senior year of high school at Christian Life Center Academy in Humble, Texas that an opponent brought a second defender at him when he had the ball in the post.
After practice Jordan offered a candid and funny response when asked about adjusting to double-teams from opposing defenses.
“Chauncey [Billups] told me after the game, ‘You know what,’ and I said, ‘What’s up, Chauncey?’ He goes, ‘I can tell you’ve never been double teamed in the NBA.’ And I was like, ‘You think?’ After the game they were saying I was doing like a five-step drop, like a quarterback. I wanted to just pick up the ball and run away because I’d never seen that before.”
Jordan said he panicked when he first saw the double-team coming late in the first quarter, but after studying game film he’s already more aware of how to deal with it.
“I watched the film and, if I do ever get doubled again, I need to find ways to pass it out of the post and that’s what we worked on today [at practice] was doubling in the post and passing out of it and I made some good passes. I’m a pretty good passer, to be honest, but not when I’m not ready for it.”
Guard Marqus Blakely was waived following Saturday’s workout. He played 19 minutes in three preseason games.
It was the second time in three seasons Blakely was the Clippers’ final cut in training camp. In 2010-11 the former two-time America East Conference Player of the Year at Vermont was released two days before the team’s opener.
The roster now stands at the league-maximum 15 players.