LOS ANGELES – The games are blending together for a Clippers team that hasn’t had more than a day off between games since the start of the month.
Blake Griffin said the last full practice, apart from a walkthrough-type scenario on the road, was back on Dec. 5. With 14 games this month since that all-out practice, it took both Griffin and Chris Paul some time after Monday’s win to ponder who they played just two days prior.
“Who did we play Saturday?” Griffin asked. “Yeah, it seems like we’re playing all the time, but like I said, I’ve been through crazy stretches like this before, and I know everybody else has. I don’t like giving it that much attention, to be honest. You just kind of keep fighting through it.”
While he may not want to put attention on it, it’s been hard to ignore. The Clippers have faced staunch competition and had dropped three of four games before Monday’s down-to-the-wire victory against the Jazz.
Most teams this time of year would be hoping to put their feet up. While rest is important, and head coach Doc Rivers has avoided practices to make sure his players stay as fresh as possible, the Clippers are actually clamoring to practice. In fact, Paul responded, “Heck no,” when asked if he can remember a time he wanted to practice so badly.
“We’ve just got to keep staying the course,” Paul said. “We can’t look at that, we can’t be trying to use excuses and things like that. We’ve just got to play.”
They’ll get an opportunity to practice soon, as the schedule looks more normal to begin January. After Wednesday’s game, the Clippers will get two days between games for the first time since Dec. 6.
Here’s what the Clippers had to say about the lack of time off and wanting to get a practice in:
Head coach Doc Rivers: “It’s amazing. It just seems like in all these games we’re playing teams that had three days’ rest, four days’ rest. It’s just one of the quirks in the schedule. The Knicks are here already. It’s crazy. But that’s fine. We’re playing another afternoon game. After that, we kind of have a chance to at least gather ourselves. We’re going to have a drastic schedule change in the way we’ve done things once we get that first day off, we’re going to be able to practice more. I’m hoping it helps.”
“When you don’t have practice, you have slippage. Our execution to me, offensively, you have slippage. Defensively, we just need to be reminded on what we should do. We take pride in a lot of things defensively, making them make the second pass, taking away the 3-point line. We’re slipping on a lot of those areas, so I think we’ll have a chance to fix them up.”
Blake Griffin: “You can see the slippage, the things that we’re kind of messing up on that we shouldn’t be. But Doc said and everybody said, I think everybody acknowledges it, it will be nice to get some practice time in being at home.”
“It’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel having two days off after this next game…It’s been tiring, but everyone goes through tough stretches.”
Chris Paul: “It’s been such a blur. It’s been so many games, I don’t even remember half the games we played. I learned that we pushed and fought through. Sometimes when guys are a little winded and stuff like that, we talk about staying the course and trying to win. Tonight was one of those nights. They made a run here and there late in the game, and we just found a way.”
Matt Barnes: “We haven’t practiced in forever. It’s crazy. Normally you don’t want to practice, but we need to. That’s practicing good habits, continuing to be consistent. We just haven’t had that time. Everything’s going to slow down and balance out.”
DeAndre Jordan: “Yeah, we need to practice. But at the same time, Doc wants us to be able to have our legs for the season. We can understand that. We can’t use our schedule as a crutch. Everybody has to play 82 games. It’s not like we’re the only team that plays 82 games. But practice, it gives us a chance to kind of jell more. Spencer (Hawes), he just got back, he needs to be able to practice with us a full practice.”