OPEN SCRIMMAGE USHERS IN NEW SEASON

The Clippers made their 2012-13 debut in front of fans at Galen Center during Wednesday's open scrimmage. Although it ended in a 31-31 tie, there was plenty to get excited about.

LOS ANGELES–Venerable broadcaster Ralph Lawler set the tone for the Clippers’ open scrimmage Wednesday at USC’s Galen Center with a passionate introduction to the new season.

He quipped about veteran Grant Hill’s age, said there’s no player he is happier to welcome back than Lamar Odom, and gushed about the present and future of the team anchored by superstars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.

If not Lawler it may have been Griffin, who sent the crowd into a minor frenzy after making a basket from 75 feet away on a football-style toss as his teammates were lining up to be introduced.

“I don’t know where that [shot] came from,” Griffin said. “I try that every day and miss.”

It was that kind of evening for the Clippers, a night of showmanship and work and a seemingly perfect opener for what is presumably one of the most talented teams in franchise history.

“It’s exciting to see the reception that we got from our fans,” small forward Caron Butler said. “Having Lamar back and getting that reception, Chauncey [Billups] putting back on the jersey and getting that reception, it was fun to be back at it.”

Butler was a member of the Blue team, which included Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, and Willie Green. The White team was made up of what will likely be most of the top reserves: Odom, Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford, Ronny Turiaf, and undrafted rookie Hank Thorns. Hill (rest), Paul (thumb), and Billups (Achilles) did not participate in the 24-minute scrimmage.

For the most part, the game, which ended in a 31-31 tie, was considered a “working practice,” but still made for a number of highlights. 

In the first half, Jordan canned a turnaround jump hook on the first Blue possession, Crawford whirled a behind-the-back pass to Barnes for a fast-break dunk, and Griffin threw down a left-handed dunk off an offensive rebound and dish from Bledsoe.

The White squad led 14-13 after the first 12 minutes and extended their lead to as many as six in the second half. And that’s when Griffin got loose. He dunked a self-pass off the backboard, twisted through the lane for another left-handed dunk switching hands before getting to the rim, and caught alley-oop from rookie Chris Johnson. Second-year guard Travis Leslie, who did not play in the first half, scored nine points for the White team in the final period and rejected a layup attempt by Marqus Blakely.

Barnes finished with eight points and two 3-pointers, while Odom had five points, three rebounds, and two assists. Jordan had eight points, two rebounds, and an emphatic block for the Blue team.

Even in the scrimmage setting, the game turned competitive in the final seconds. With the White team trailing by two, Crawford drew a foul on a 3-pointer from the corner and coolly made all three, blowing into his hands before sinking the final shot to give White a 31-30 lead.

A fraction of a second later, Griffin was fouled by Trent Plaisted on an entry pass. After a brief discussion, Griffin was granted two free throws. The two-time All-Star made the first but missed the second. Courtney Fortson missed a wild layup as time expired, and for the second year in a row, the Clippers intra-squad scrimmage ended without a winner.

Griffin, who finished with a scrimmage-high 11 points, and Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro assessed the team’s performance afterwards.

“We’ve been better than we were today,” Griffin said. “I think today we were really sloppy offensively.”

Del Negro added, “The guys have been playing hard. You can see the chemistry building a little bit in terms of the communication out there.”

The Clippers coach, entering his third season with the team, was quick to point out the scrimmage was just day five in a season-long process. In that way, Wednesday was something of a grand introduction. 

Blue Team

PTS

REB

AST

White Team

PTS

REB

AST

Bledsoe

4

3

2

Thorns

2

2

0

Green

0

1

0

Crawford

7

3

1

Butler

5

1

1

Barnes

8

0

1

Griffin

11

3

1

Odom

5

3

2

Jordan

8

2

0

Turiaf

0

3

1

Hollins

2

2

0

Leslie

9

2

1

Johnson

0

0

1

Fortson

0

2

2

Blakely

1

2

1

Plaisted

2

3

0

Note: All statistics are unofficial.