The debate rages. At least it did before Clippers practice Monday, when DeAndre Jordan was asked if the Clippers vs. the Lakers constituted a rivalry.
“I don’t think so,” Jordan said. “You guys want it to be. I would say Memphis more than the Lakers.”
One questioner pressed on.
“Stop trying to validate your point,” Jordan said, drawing laughter. “No. I went to Texas A&M and Texas wasn’t our rival. They were Oklahoma’s rival, but I hated Texas. It’s not like that’s my rivalry. If anybody, I’d say Memphis.”
Case closed? Stay tuned.
After getting out to a 10-point lead after the first quarter, the depleted Clippers bench couldn’t keep up with Sacramento Friday night as closed out the preseason with a 110-100 loss at Staples Center.
Chris Paul scored 23 points and Jamal Crawford added 17 for the Clippers, who open the regular season Tuesday on the Lakers’ court at Staples Center.
“We’ll be ready. I’m excited to get going,” said forward Blake Griffin, who had seven points and eight rebounds as the Clippers closed the exhibition schedule with a 5-3 record. “These next three days are important for us in terms of preparation and I think our mindset will be in the right place.”
Reserve forward Matt Barnes made his season debut and started, but fouled out after 21 minutes. He went 0-for-5 from the floor and scored four points, The Clippers played without reserve point guard Darren Collison (sore knee) and guard/forward jared Dudley, who was given the night off by Coach Doc Rivers.
The Clippers were outscored, 69-41, over the second and third quarters and Rivers once again pointed out how the defensive intensity that he saw from the club early in the preseason was missing again.
“Defensively we’ve taken a little step back and we’ve got to get that going again,” Rivers said. “It’s not a big deal to me right now. We’ll have this conversation four, five, 10, 12 more times. It’s called human life. You go up and down, it ebbs and flows. We’ll just keep working on it. We’ll be a great defensive team. We have too many good defensive players.”
Willie Green came off the bench to score 12 points and center DeAndre Jordan addedf 12 points, nine rebounds and three more blocked shots, giving him 24 in the eight preseason games.
Guard Isaiah Thomas came off the bench to score 27 to lead Sacramento (5-2) and center DeMarcus Cousins had 20 points in 19 minutes.
This is it for the preseason. With Tuesday’s opener on the Lakers’ court, the Clippers pretty much know where they stand except for one position.
Who will grab the role as the the team’s third big man behind DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin?
Coach Doc Rivers hopes Ryan Hollins, Byron Mullens and Lou Amundson can shake it out with their play but that hasn’t happened yet.
“The one thing every coach wants is separation,” Rivers said. “Ryan’s had his minutes where he’s played well and so has Mully and so has Lou. At the end of the day it’ll be by committee and if someone separates, that’s great.
“If they don’t, it’s not a big deal either. If we have two guys, we can play either one. And you just hope you pick the right guy. If he’s not going, then you have another guy. That competition’s not all bad either.”
It will be a fleeting matchup because most of the starters won’t play long in the final preseason game, but Clippers coach Doc Rivers is looking forward to seeing DeAndre Jordan square off against Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins.
“I love this. That’s the one part I love,” Rivers said. “I think Cousins is a really good player. Really Physical, tough, and he’s heavy – not meaning out of shape. The heavy big guys are tough to guard for anybody, especially when he has foot speed. He’s a talented kid. That’ll be a good matchup.”
Sharman, a Hall of Fame player and coach, died Friday at his home in Redondo Beach:
“He meant a lot of things to a lot of people. I was too young to remember him as a player, really almost too young to remember him as a coach. I got to remember him after his career. Every time he came in town, when I was in Orlando and especially when I was in Boston, he made a point of coming in to talk. Just a really gentle, nice human being.
“I think a lot of players remember him because he’s responsible for shootaround. I don’t know if they liked that or not – my guess would be not. But he is obviously one of the few people who made it to the Hall of Fame as a player and as a coach.
“He meant a lot to the league and we’re going to miss him.”
Forward Matt Barnes has missed all seven preseason games with a sore left calf but he plans to be on the floor Friday night when the Clippers close out their exhibition schedule against Sacramento.
Without Barnes, a key reserve, it’s been a bit of a struggle for the Clippers’ second unit to gel as it did last season when the bench was among the best in the NBA.
“It’s been frustrating but also educational to really see where I can have an effect on the second unit,” Barnes said. “Our second unit still doesn’t have an identity and I think sitting back and watching these last (seven) games I can really see where I can help filling voids and really be that voice for that second unit to get us into what we need to do offensively and defensively.”