Blake Griffin a secret weapon for Clippers?
Darren Collison is the Clippers’ backup point guard, but if you’re looking for the team’s No. 2 playmaker behind Chris Paul, Coach Doc Rivers has a different suggestion: Blake Griffin.
“He has great confidence in his shot and that’s what we want him to have confidence in,” Rivers said of Griffin. “I probably want him to have more confidence in his playmaking. I think he’s a terrific playmaker with the ball.
“After Chris he may be our second-best playmaker/passer and we want to play through him in that way as well. So we’re going to lean on him a lot, not just his scoring.”
The NBA owners voted unanimously Wednesday to return the NBA Finals format to 2-2-1-1-1 instead of the 2-3-2 setup that’s been in use since 1985.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers figured it’s about time.
“For a lot of reasons I think it’s good,” Rivers said. “No. 1, we play one format throughout the playoffs then all of a sudden in the Finals it’s a different format. I’ve never figured that out.
“And then the second part, I just think if you’re in the Finals, you’re playing against another really good basketball team, the chances of you beating anyone three times in a row is extremely hard to do. And then also if you have a 3-2 lead and you’re the team without homecourt, Game 6 should be at home, not Game 6-7 on the road.”
Yes, Lakers fans, you can harp on the Celtics as much as you can the Clippers for the banners being covered up at Staples Center during Clippers games.
During the Clippers’ 106-77 victory over Boston at Staples Center, then-celtics coach Doc Rivers was looking for any distraction he could find. Trainer Ed Lacerte delivered.
“He taps me on the leg and says, ‘Look at that.’ I wanted to look at anything at that point, we’re down 30 points,” Rivers said. “And I look up, you see all the banners and he said ‘I would never have that.’ I thought he’s right. So again, the Lakers can blame a Boston guy.”
Rivers said he has “pretty much had the gamut of feedback, mostly positive” in reaction to the Clippers’ players adorning that wall of the arena.
“It’s the Clipper court and that’s the way we feel,” Rivers said. “It’s not a disrespectful thing at all, it’s not intended that way at all. It’s more that when we play at our (place), it should be about us and only us.”
The Clippers roster now stands at 15 after the club waived forward Brandon Davies on Monday.
The undrafted Davies played for the Clippers’ summer league team in Las Vegas and then appeared in five preseason games, averaging 3.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 11.2 minutes. He did not play in Saturday’s preseason game against Denver in Las Vegas.
Despite a 17-point outburst in the fourth quarter from Darren Collison, the Clippers couldn’t rally and fell, 94-84, to Portland Friday night in their Staples Center preseason opener.
Collison finished with 31 points and had six assists and two steals for the Clippers (3-2), who will play Denver Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Playing without J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes and Maalik Wayns and Willie Green, Collison took advantage of the 34 minutes Coach Doc Rivers gave him and made 8 of 16 shots from the field and 15 of 16 from the free-throw line.
“To be honest, all credit goes to Doc,” Collison said. “He’s been on me since day one as far as letting me play my game. It’s been a very very long time since a coach allowed me to play my game and play to my instincts.”
Blake Griffin shrugged off a tender ankle, started and had 18 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes. Chris Paul had seven points and three assists, making only 2 of 11 shots.
“I hate sitting out,” Griffin said. “Preseason, whatever, I don’t even like sitting out practice. I talked to Doc this morning after shootaround, he was in a good mood. I was trying to pick my time the last three days. It felt fine. It’s an ankle, so it’s not really bad.
“I’m really just trying to get my rhythm down. It’s not really about proving anything or anything like that. I feel like my rhythm’s been a little off since the start. That’s the main thing I wanted to work on.”
The Clippers have covered up the Lakers’ championship banners and retired numbers and that’s a permanent change inside Staples Center for Clippers games.
Predictably, Lakers’ fans on social media are more vocal than anyone. In any case, maybe that created some employment opportunities.
On the other end of the building, the Kings’ Stanley Cup banner and retired numbers are still in full view.
Jamal Crawford may have worked more in the offseason than he has at any point in his career, sensing a big year for a deep team with Coach Doc Rivers.
Crawford, who has built a reputation as a scorer only, has left an impression on Rivers for his unselfishness in preseason camp. Then again, Rivers said it was nice to see Crawford take a little more initiative in the last two games, in which he scored a combined 38 points.
“He was more aggressive,” Rivers said. “I thought I was messing him up in some ways, he was trying to fit in so much. I just texted him,. The great thing about Jamal is you don’t have to tell him a lot offensively.
“I told him ‘I’d like you to be Jamal at some point’. And he said, ‘Well, I’m trying to fit in.’ I said, ‘No, they fit in around you. You’re an offensive player. Don’t worry if you take enough shots I don’t like – I’ll tell you.’ ”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers left it up to Willie Green and Jamal Crawford to see who would play Friday night at Staples or Saturday night in Las Vegas.
“I’ve got a hunch Willie is playing tonight,” Rivers said, and the pregame starting lineup reflected that. But when the players were introduced, it was Crawford in the starting lineup.
Doc Rivers was asked if his team was getting his message in a training camp that just reached the one-week mark.
“They’re receptive during training camp. Everyone is,” Rivers said of the Clippers. “And then when you start doing the minutes and the touches, that’s when things go haywire. I’ll get back to you in December or January, and then I’ll really know if they’re receptive or not.”
With a scrimmage before a few thousand fans at Galen Center Wednesday night, Clippers coach Doc Rivers got the chance to observe his team in a couple of situations they’re not accustomed to, especially at this time of year.
First, he wanted to see his squad fight through the distractions of a friendly crowd, then he watched his team go through a late-game situation they probably didn’t think they’d face this early in October.
“It’s good that the fans can see somewhat what we work on, but that’s a tough atmosphere for the players as far as concentration,” Rivers said. “I actually like that, especially when we’re doing the drills before the scrimmage stuff, guys keeping their focus and getting through it.
“You actually count the actual days (of practice) and there’s not a lot of days you can give away before the first game. I still think we got something out of that, and that’s good.”
The Clippers ran through some defensive transition drills with the narration of assistant coach Kevin Eastman, then got to the scrimmage portion.
In the starting lineup for the first unit, Rivers trotted out Blake Griffin, Jared Dudley, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul and Willie Green.
At the end of the game, the starters had one possession to go the length of the court with a two-point deficit. Paul took possession in the backcourt and was immediately trapped by Darren Collison and Lou Amundson. Paul dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds with six seconds left.
“We hung our heads,” Rivers said. “Chris turned the ball over and you could see our guys. That’s when I jumped in and said ‘Guys, there’s 5 seconds left. There’s a ton of time. We’re down two points. That doesn’t mean you lose the game. There’s a ton of time.’ The next thing you they turn the ball over and we get the ball back and we had a dunk (attempt) and we got fouled.”
After Maalik Wayns stepped over the sideline trying to inbound the ball for a turnover, the Clippers went to Griffin, who made a baseline move to try to dunk. He was fouled and missed the first free throw.
“Even after he missed the first free throw, we called another timeout and Blake was upset he missed the free throw,” Rivers said. “We still had time to win the game. Three seconds left and we get the ball back again. I think those lessons are invaluable to your team. The game is never over and that’s what our team has to get. That will be key for us. If we can get through that, we’re going to be really good. If we can’t, we will not.”