Chris Paul is out nursing his shoulder injury, but he’s still chirping away at his teammates from the bench and his teammates welcome his input.
“Chris is a coach when he’s playing, so he’s definitely a coach when he’s not playing,” DeAndre Jordan said. “You can hear his voice throughout the game just like he’s out there. I feel like Chris sees a lot of things before they happen and on the bench, he tells us ‘Do this, do this’ and it works.”
With Paul out, Coach Doc Rivers has to search a little deeper for lineup combinations and he’s come across an unlikely one that is becoming a hit.
Normally, J.J. Redick starts at No. 2 guard, then gives way to super sixth man Jamal Crawford. But down the stretch in Wednesday’s win over Washington, the duo was on the floor together and they combined to score 20 of the Clippers’ 29 points in the fourth quarter.
“It’s the first time we’ve been playing together,” Redick said. “Early in the season before Chris got hurt and before I got hurt, there was a lot of splitting time and maybe depending on the lineups down the stretch you may play 4-5 minutes with the guys.
“And at that point Chris and Blake (Griffin) were pretty much controlling the ball in those scenarios. It’s been kind of out of necessity we’ve played more together in the last few weeks. It’s been great, but easy, too. Jamal’s a good player, he makes basketball plays and it’s been easy.”
When Paul returns, he’ll have the ball in his hands at crucial moments but at least the Clippers have the knowledge they have more than one alternative at hand.
“There’s no way you would ever say it’s a bad thing to find different ways to win,” Redick said. “When you get your guy back and you head toward the playoffs and you get in the playoffs, wins are so important.
“So if you can figure out ways now in January when you’re shorthanded or you have off-nights or you’re playing from behind . . . and you pull out victories, those are building blocks.”
The Clippers face off tonight against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, the teams’ first meeting since Golden State’s 105-103 win on Christmas Day. In that game, the Clippers believed Blake Griffin was wrongly ejected after a tussle with Andrew Bogut.
While Doc Rivers was admittedly upset by the defeat, he also wanted to impart to his players that just like playing without injured players, the show must go on.
“I thought we played great and we didn’t win,” Rivers said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to win it and sustaining through the game. They’re a great team, they’re going to make some runs because they have offensive firepower.
“Composure in any big game, not just in that game, in any game, is important. I actually thought we held our composure and got penalized. But it doesn’t matter and I told our guys after that game: Listen, we wanted Blake to be in that game and he got thrown out.
“We still have to find a way to win the game. That’s the mentality that we have to get no matter who’s on the floor. I was angry more at we lost the game to them than we lost Blake. What if he fouled out, are we going to get mad at that, you know what I mean? That was a very winnable game.”
Doc Rivers has done his share of lobbying on DeAndre Jordan’s behalf. Jordan leads the NBA in rebounding and shooting percentage, is in the top five in blocked shots and (gasp) made six consecutive free throws Wednesday night.
Now it’s up to the Western Conference coaches to determine of Jordan has been truly All-Star caliber this season.
The seven reserves for each conference will be announced today.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Jordan said. “Whatever the coaches vote, I’ll respect it but at the same time, I have a game (Thursday) night and I’ve got to be focused on that. If I make it, I make it. I’ll be really excited, but if not it’s another chip I can add on my shoulder I’ll continue to keep playing like I’m playing this season.”
Teammate Blake Griffin, an All-Star starter, is backing his teammate fully but understands that every year, disappointment pops up around the league when someone is left out.
“Every year, there are guys that get snubbed,” Griffin said. “Last year if you look at Steph Curry, just off the top of my head, that’s a huge one right there. I felt like he deserved it. So for DeAndre, I think he has had an all-star year, but by no means does all-star define what you do for the season.”
Coach Doc Rivers said the Clippers will likely keep a roster spot open just in case they find another player who can help in some capacity.
“It’s nice to have the flexibility, it’s nice to look out there and see who’s out there and sometimes guys become available and sometimes they don’t,” Rivers said. “We did it almost every year in Boston and got lucky a couple of times, and sometimes it didn’t work. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the chance.”
During one All-Star weekend in New Orleans, Rivers grabbed a couple of Celtics and went to knock on the door at the home of P.J. Brown, who was not playing at the time. Brown eventually signed with the Celtics and hit a key shot in the playoffs during Boston’s championship run.
“He made the biggest shot in the playoffs,” Rivers said. “If somebody helps you win one game in the playoffs, they’re worth it.”
Rivers got to make a couple of discoveries during the Clippers’ seven-game road trip and one of his favorites was veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu, who joined the team just in time to leave for the trip.
“He’s playing great,” Rivers said. “I was even surprised in the first game by his ballhandling. Usually when you’ve missed the amount of games he’s missed, that’s the last thing that comes around because of the speed of the game. His passing — we run that 4-5 pick-and-roll, which is unorthodox — and he’s making passes that it looked like he’d been playing all along.”
Entering Wednesday’s game, Turkolgu was averaging 2.7 points and 3 rebounds in 12 minutes. But his presence has been felt by the Clippers off the court as well.
“The first game that he dressed, DJ came out and lost his mind over some play and before I got to him, Hedo ran out on the floor and grabbed him, told him he was wrong and let’s move on,” Rivers said. “I looked at them, and that’s a stranger talking to him right now.
“They listen because they know he’s been around. It’s easy for players to listen to each other when they have the right thing at heart. I think that makes a good team.”
On Thursday afternoon, the balance of the All-Star teams from both conferences will be announced to complement the five starters voted onto the team by fans.
The reserves are voted on by the respective conference coaches, and Clippers coach Doc Rivers admits he’s done his share of lobbying on behalf of center DeAndre Jordan.
Jordan leads the league in rebounding (13.9 per game) and shooting percentage (64.5) and is fourth in blocked shots.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a tough one, though, at the position,” Rivers said before the Clippers took on Washington Wednesday at Staples Center. “I got a great response but that’s why you go under a curtain when you’re stumping and they vote for real. ‘Yeah, I’m going to vote for him,’ then they yank that other lever.”
In other words, Rivers said he got a lot of positive feedback on Jordan but has no idea what to expect. And only seven reserves will be named to each side, though there has been rumbling about the league to increase the size of the rosters in the 30-team league.
“You don’t know, so I’m hoping,” Rivers said.
Forward Blake Griffin was voted onto the team. It also remains to be seen if Chris Paul will be among the reserves, but with the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant now apparently sidelined for the event, Paul appears to be a lock if his injured shoulder is healed in time.
Paul was last year’s game MVP.
The Clippers’ musical chair saga among backup guards continued Thursday.
Darius Morris was re-signed to a second 10-day contract and Maalik Wayns was waived for the second time in two weeks.
Morris has appeared in three games since his first signing on Jan. 6. Wayns, who missed the first 33 games of the season after undergoing surgery to repair torn meniscus in his knee, had appeared in two games.
It’s official: The Clippers signed veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu Thursday after doing enough to impress Coach Doc Rivers in a workout last week.
The 34-year-old Turkoglu last played for Orlando but hit a bump in his career last season when he was suspended for 20 games for testing positive for a banned substance.
Rivers said that signing Turkoglu doesn’t necessarily reflect the Clippers are signing players for a certain need other than finding the best players available.
“He’s another shooter,” Rivers said. “Sometimes you don’t bring in a guy because someone else is not doing something, you bring a guy in because he does something that our other guys do as well. He’s another shooter, he can space the floor, he’s very skilled and we’d like to take advantage of that.”
In his 13-year career, Turkolgu has averaged 11.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game and is a 38.2 percent 3-point shooter. He joins the team today in New York, where the Clippers start a seven-game road trip.
Before the game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle took time to marvel at Dirk Nowitzki, who’s avering 21.2 points and 5.8 rebounds in his 15 th NBA season.
“He’s just more skilled than everyone,” Rivers said. “It almost comes down to that with him. He’s 7 feet tall, he’s maybe the best shooter in the league if not top 5, still, and at that size, he’s very difficult to guard.
“As a staff, you’re sitting around, you concoct all these ways that don’t work to try to guard him. It’s amazing how many different ways I’ve seen him guarded.”
Carlisle was asked how Nowitzki has been able to return to form after missing the first 27 games last season due to knee surgery.
“Never underestimate greatness at any age,” Carlisle said. “And 35 ain’t that old. I’ve had a lot of guys, Reggie Miller playing when he was 39, his last game was a playoff game against Detroit and he had 26 points and he decided to call it quits. He could have easily played two or three more years.
“I’ve been lucky, I’ve had some guys that have been really terrific players – I had Reggie Miller, Ben Wallace became a great player in Detroit, (Chauncey) Billups was a great player and great clutch player, Jason Kidd played ’til he was 40 years old and Dirk’s the best of the best within that group, and they’re all tremendous.”
When Clippers coach Doc Rivers said the signing of veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu is imminent, he also admitted to revealing one of the league’s worst-kept secrets.
“How do you pronounce his name?,” Rivers asked with a smile. “Because I may have to get used to that.”
Turkoglu has apparently passed enough informal entry tests and is a phyusical exam away from signing. Rivers said that Turkoglu’s 20-game suspension for banned substances was among the topics that were covered in the vetting.
“It’s no concern now for me,” Rivers said of the suspension. “He’s going to do his physicals whenever we finally get all the stuff done but we do anticipate signing him. At least we hope. Nothing’s official til it’s official. I usually don’t say stuff but I think everyone pretty much knows.
“You always address (all issues) when you bring guys in and you talk to them. You talk to them about anything that’s happened in his past, not only just that, but he was in Orlando and didn’t play. Every guy you bring in, that’s nothing new.”
Rivers added that if he’s signed, Turkoglu would be available to join the club for their seven-game East Coast road trip that begins Friday in New York. He’s confident Turkoglu will fit in with the club.
“Yeah, you never know how (locker room chemistry) goes,” Rivers said. “I think with the veterans it usually goes pretty well. Veterans are pretty easy to fit in in the locker room. Young guys for the most part don’t know what to do in the locker room. I don’t really have a concern when you bring veterans in.”