PLAYA VISTA – With the season tipping off for the Clippers in a little more than eight hours, Matt Barnes stood in front of a crowd of media at the team’s training center and was drenched in sweat.

Shoot-around had ended a few minutes earlier and he stayed on the court for extra work in preparation for Tuesday’s matchup with the Lakers. Barnes, who played in one preseason game after sitting out with a sore left calf for most of the past month, is still getting back in shape. 

“That’s why I’m still going hard now,” Barnes said. “I’m trying to catch my breath. My main game is being the most in-shape person on the court. I’m still not there yet, but I’m getting there.”

Running the floor and causing havoc has been Barnes game for more than a decade. He did it to perfection in 80 games with the Clippers last season. It’s one of the main reasons the team made re-signing the free-agent forward this summer. And after missing almost a month of the offseason with a quad injury and most of the preseason with the lingering problem with his calf, Barnes is anxious to get things going.

“Preseason’s over,” Barnes said. “It’s been a long time coming. It’s a long summer, a long training camp and to come out of the gate and play at home, even though it’s not our home game, it’s exciting. Any time you get to play the Lakers it’s going to be exciting.”

Reserve point guard Darren Collison said you can feel the uptick in energy from the end of the preseason to now.

“It’s a jump,” Collison said. “You already feel it right now. You feel it in the walk-through. We were really focused and ready to play.

“This is the first regular season game and I really believe if we want to do something special, it starts right now.”


Collison did not practice Monday in order to be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple’s first child, a boy named Kinston.

“It’s probably one of the best times in my life right now,” Collison said. “Probably not sleeping-wise. I didn’t get too much sleep, but I’ll be fine for the game.”

The team sent the Collison family flowers Monday and numerous players reached out to him. 

“I sent him a text yesterday morning,” Barnes said. “I just told him it’s going change his life for the better.”

Collison was still wearing the hospital wristband on his left wrist and said he was heading back to the hospital to check on his wife after shoot-around.

As for Collison’s bothersome bruised left kneecap that forced him to miss the Clippers’ preseason finale on Friday, he said it’s “fine.”

“It’s better,” he said. “I can tolerate the pain. It’s not fully where I need to be, but I’m running fine. There’s no limp or anything.”

Adding Collison and Barnes back to the lineup will give the Clippers their entire reserve unit for the first time since training camp opened and it might take some extra time to gel as a group.

“The first unit is definitely a few steps ahead of our second unit,” Barnes said. “Our second unit hasn’t played together yet. With me being hurt and D.C. (Collison) being hurt and then D.C. missing practice yesterday because he has a new baby in his life. We haven’t really got a chance to gel, so we’ll have to do a lot of communicating when we’re out of the game and be on the same page when we’re in the game.”

The Clippers tip off Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. PT against the Lakers and face the Golden State Warriors in their home opener two nights later.