If we learned anything from their first two games, it was that the Clippers are good enough to hold serve. They can beat “teams they’re supposed to beat” when they’re at home.
However, the big question is how they will do on the road and if they will ever break serve? Can they beat teams “they’re not supposed to beat?”
The Clippers are in the midst of a three-game trip, and perhaps this trip will be more telling about where they stand than their first two wins.
I have been promoting the idea of a Clipper mascot for years. One idea was “Clippy: The Seafaring Wonderdog.” Well, that idea only got some rolls of the eyes — and rightfully so. Yes, it is lame.
But this year, could there be a better mascot than Underdog??
The Clippers are back to their traditional role of perpetual underdogs. Maybe that role will help them steal a few extra wins when they’re taking too lightly.
Other than getting in touch with that role, not too much is happening on the Clipper front. A few guys have minor injuries, but it does not look like anyone key will be out for Friday’s opener.
My brief efforts to nickname fantastic-looking rookie Al Thornton “Thunder,” in an homage to former Cleveland Indians slugger Andre “Thunder” Thornton have been trumped. Instead, Thornton is being called “Juice”
Apparently, wily Sam Cassell has gotten his teammates to call the rookie Juice. He’s smooth and has looked refreshing to Clipper fans, so, heck, perhaps Sam’s nickname works better. Sorry, Tribe fans, no Thunder Thornton II.
The Clippers’ season is two weeks away, and it’s shocking that there hasn’t been a story on Corey Maggette being disgruntled yet. But, no, no, Corey says he’s as happy as can be and excited about this new season.
But Maggette’s body language on the Clippers’ bench needs a make-over. He often slumps down with a grim look on his mug, not looking happy at all. It also is curious that he’s typically as far away from the coach on the bench as possible. Does that observation really mean anything? Probably not. But it is something to watch, just a few games into the preseason.
A long line of Thorntons have come through professional sports. There’s the hockey player, Joe Thornton, with the San Jose Sharks. There was the former Cleveland Indians slugger Andre “Thunder” Thornton. There is also the City of Thornton in Colorado, and “Sling Blade” actor Billy Bob Thornton – mm-hmm.
Nowadays, the Clippers’ have the next Thornton, rookie Al Thornton. Expect him to be in the Clippers’ rotation immediately. He had a double-double, 18 points and 10 rebounds, in the team’s exhibition loss at Portland on Wednesday and has played at least 31 minutes in both of the Clippers’ exhibitions.
Here’s one vote to call him the new “Thunder.” Mm-hmm.
The Clippers exhibition season starts tonight in Denver, and there is at least one key battle happening within the rotation. This question looms: Who will be the first big man off the bench?
The battle right now is between second-year center Paul Davis and free-agent acquisition Josh Powell. The problem is this: Neither has had consistent playing time. But if you went by the teams intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, Davis would be the frontrunner.
Davis ran the court well and snagged some rebounds, while Powell didnt really make his presence known. That could all change in the preseason. We shall see
The Clippers are ending training camp in Santa Barbara on Saturday, although they plan on having one more two-a-day practice on Sunday in El Segundo. So, technically, thats training camp, too. Actually, until a regular-season game is played, let it be training camp.
One question is if this is the final trip to Santa Barbara for training camp. The Clippers practice facility in Playa Vista is scheduled to open next year, and there is a chance the team will hold training camp there.
However, there are less distractions for the team in Santa Barbara, and no decision has been made on whether it will keep camp in S.B. There is also a chance the Clippers will stay in S.B., even with the facility available.
Place your bets, place your bets.
A lot is up in the air for the Clippers this season, mainly with the big question of when the injured Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston will be back.
Heres a little office pool to circulate to predict what happens first:
1. Livingston returns.
2. Brand returns.
3. The practice facility in Playa Vista opens.
4. March 1 comes.
Right now, in training camp, its a dead heat between them all. Visually, Livingston looks the closest. However, his injury is so multi-faceted, maybe Brand has a better chance of returning. Or maybe all the details of the practice facility will be completed. Who knows? Go ahead. Circulate the office pool.
Although acquiring a third-string point guard probably isnt a big move for most teams, it was for the Clippers with Dan Dickau because the teams other point guards — Sam Cassell and Brevin Knight — both are aging and have had recent injury issues.
Knights performance this upcoming season will be interesting to watch. He is known as a good floor leader who plays speedy defense, but his jump shot has always been suspect.
Oddly, Knight and Cassell (if pronounced a little differently) are both chess terms. Mind you, the Clippers used to have Sean Rooks, and its not a stretch to think someone named King or Bishop might eventually come through the college ranks.
Anyway, through free agency, the Clippers basically traded Jason Hart for Knight, and it will be interesting to see how each performs this season. Hart, who also has a cool last name, is with the Utah Jazz.
Hart took part in a fabulous defensive matchup last season, when he guarded Luther Head of the Houston Rockets. It was a typical Cartesian battle of Hart vs. Head. Usually, I like Head in that match-up, but I think Hart actually had the better night.
Ahoy! Yaroslav Korolev was in Clipper training camp on Tuesday, after signing a free-agent, tryout contract on Tuesday morning.
Barring some type of super-duper mega impressing of the coaching staff, Korolev will not be on the team this season. Even with some super-duper mega impressing, he still wont make the team because the Clippers already will have a league-maximum 15 players under contract.
Various items about Korolev have been on the Web and in the MSM speculating where he might play. One item said he would be playing in Turkey.
On Tuesday, Korolev took some time to clarify what happened.
“I did workouts with different teams, but of course, there are a lot of rumors, Korolev said. “If theres an offer from a team, then youre going there. But thats not true. If youre just talking to them, it doesnt mean youre going there. I was talking to a Turkey team, but Im here.
Korolev says he hopes to have such a great training camp that he shows an NBA team that he is worth signing. More realistically, he might show a foreign-league scout that he is worth signing or maybe an American minor league.