Everyone on the Clippers appreciates Lamar Odom’s unselfish style of play.
Everyone’s also been asking him to shoot more and they got their wish when Odom scored 18 points Saturday in a win over Utah.
“We need him to be able to do that,” Del Negro said. “It gives us another dimension when he’s hitting those shots, it opens up the floor. Not only was he taking good shots but I liked when he was facilitating off the dribble not for anybody but for himself to score.
“He’s physically feeling better, but we need him to be more aggressive like that. It doesn’t mean he’s always going to get 18 points or shoot that high a percentage, but the threat of him doing that changes everything for us when he’s that aggressive.”
It was not only the second time all season Odom had scored in double figures, it was only the second time he had reached double figures for shots. He made 8 of 15 from the field and 2 of 3 on 3-pointers.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro has learned a few tricks about coaching since his playing days, and one of them is to be at least receptive to input from the players.
To a degree, of course.
“I’m a firm believer in if it’s something the players feel can help us or put us in an area of strength, that’s the biggest part of my job — to help players play with confidence, learn, improve but also play at strength,” Del Negro said before Tuesday’s game against Charlotte.
“It doesn’t mean we always use them, but it’s also . . . if we see something, I’m open to that. It doesn’t mean we’re always going to make that adjustment whether it’s offensively or defensively, but I think it gives the players a chance to rake some ownership in what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and they have to go execute it.”
In other words, it had better be a good idea.
What looked like a breather for the Clippers got a little more problematic as they approached game tonight.
They might be playing the Charlotte Bobcats (13-43), the team with the NBA’s worst record, but the Clippers (40-18) were scrambling with the loss of two, if not three, regulars for a game that will be broadcast on Prime Ticket.
Guard Jamal Crawford’s fiancee gave birth to their daughter on Monday and Crawford was not available. He will rejoin the club when it travels to Indianapolis for Thursday’s game against the Pacers.
Guard Eric Bledsoe will also be held out of the game with a sore left calf, an injury he picked up last Thursday against San Antonio. Coacgh Vinny Del Negro said Bledsoe’s status is day-to-day. In addition, reserve forward Grant Hill is struggling with a sore back.
The adjustments Del Negro could make will be increasing Chauncey Billups’ playing time. Willie Green, a starting guard until Billups came back to crack the starting lineup, will likely see more action.
But most importantly for the Clippers: “We have to worry about ourselves and not other teams’ records,” Del Negro said.
Eric Bledsoe will also not be able to go with the Clippers tonight due to a sore left calf. Coach Vinny Del Negro said Bledsoe is “day-to-day.”
Jamal Crawford, a leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year this season, will miss tonight’s game due to the birth of a daughter.
Before the Clippers took the court Saturday against Utah, their composure was under scrutiny from outside and within.
They picked up three in a loss to San Antonio, acknowledged they’d have to find that level-headed balance, and then picked up two more during their 107-94 victory.
Blake Griffin had the evil-eye for any official in the neighborhood just about every time he attacked the basket. He wasn’t shy about his opinions from the bench, either.
Late in the second quarter, while on the court, he was hit with his 11 th technical foul of the season, one off the league “lead.”
Jamal Crawford picked up his sixth later in the game. With Matt Barnes (10) and DeAndre Jordan (8) and Lamar Odom (5), it’s starting to dawn on the Clippers that this might not be a trend in the right direction.
“It’s a mind over matter type of thing,” Griffin said. “You just have to be mentally strong and I didn’t do a good job, especially in the first half, of not letting it affect me, not letting whatever else was going affect my game. We have to do a better job, I have to do a better job. It’s really just a mind-set.”
The subject was basically the first thing Paul volunteered after the game.
“We’ve got to do a better job with the officials, obviously, because we’re not on the best side of it with the techs, the delay-of-games,” Paul said. “We’ve just got to worry about playing the game.
“It’s tough. We’ve got a lot of aggressive guys on our team. At times you feel like you get fouled and stuff. We’ve just got to do better with it.”
Another typical night for Lamar Odom in Los Angeles. Off the bench, he hit for 18 points, two 3-pointers, six rebounds, two assists and a steal in 23 minutes.
Except that was Lamar Odom circa 2008-11 down the hallway with the Lakers. His season-high for the Clippers in 2012-13 was 10 points, the only time he’s been in double figures.
“He had assists, he had rebounds. Matt Barnes said he went to the ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ tonight,” guard Chris Paul said. “He came out there and was that Lamar Odom that everyone around here has learned to grow and love. With the spirit that he has, you have no choice but to be happy for him.”
If the Clippers’ bench wasn’t deep enough already, Odom may have just increased its potency.
“It’s unbelievable,” Blake Griffin said. “That’s the kind of scoring I remember from Lamar back when he was with the Lakers on the championship team, when he got Sixth Man of the Year, stuff like that. He’s so tough to stop because he’s so versatile.”
Time after time, teammates have urged him to shoot, or at least take a look at the rim, as Griffin put it. Odom welcomed the breakthrough.
“I’m starting to get my legs underneath me,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay at it, just work hard. I’m trying to fit in and do whatever I can do to help the win tonight.”
Chris Paul suffered through a night of “history” against San Antonio when he had only four points and three assists in 27 minutes. It’s only the third time in his career he’s had such low numbers.
The most recent time was Feb. 8, when he had three points and two assists against Miami. He bounced back the next game with 25 points, seven assists, four steals and only one turnover against New York.
“I like when he starts off aggressive,” Del Negro said. “I like when he’s in attack mode early and trying to score the ball. But he has to feel comfortable doing that. Now with Chauncey (Billups) back we have another threat out there, so that could take some pressure off everybody.
“He’s a pass-first guy, he’s a set-up guy, but we have to let him go and he has no problem with that at times. When he does that he gives us a another dimension out there which opens everything up.”
In the first quarter alone Saturday against Utah, Paul had three points, three assists, four rebounds and no turnovers.
Fifty technical fouls had been called against the Clippers this year, but few have reflected as much frustration as the three they picked up in Thursday’s loss to San Antonio.
Not that they were going to matter in a 26-point defeat, but Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro would rather his team channel their energies in a more positive direction. DeAndre Jordan and Ryan Hollins picked up the T’s, but the third was a defensive violation.
“It wasn’t good the other night just because we were frustrated and we let our effort dictate the game,” Del Negro said. “We had no effort and we were trying to grab onto anything. They were the aggressors the other night and we’ve got to do a better job to control those emotions.
“We can’t give up a point or two and we have to do a better job in this last stretch of the season before we get into the playoffs,” Del Negro said. “Because a point here or there can make the difference.”
Yes, it’s an issue being addressed.
“We talk about it,” Del Negro said. “Handling the referees, just kind of growing up a little bit, and maturing in those areas is very important. You can’t beat yourself, you just can’t, and that is beating yourself when you can’t control your emotions and deal with the ups and downs of the game.
“You can’t always play well, but you can play hard and you can execute and hopefully if you do that, eventually you get in a good rhythm and you don’t have to worry about the referees.”
The Clippers’ Blake Griffin broke the ice Saturday with a T in the second period. The Jazz free throw tied the game with 3:35 left.
From Mark Murphy in the Boston Herald:
According to several accounts, though, talk between Ainge and the Clippers continued right up until the final hours yesterday. Garnett said during All-Star weekend that he would not waive his no-trade clause, and held true to his vow despite added pressure from Clippers guard Chris Paul.
According to a league source, Paul called Garnett and said that if he was open to joining the Clippers, then Paul would make it happen. Garnett, though, declined, expressing a desire to remain a Celtic.
Ainge’s wish list had been topped by the Clippers’ young duo of guard Eric Bledsoe and center DeAndre Jordan. The Clips, with an eye on trading part of the future for a deep playoff run now, focused their attention on Garnett.
But Garnett reportedly said no, to the relief of an entire Celtics locker room.