Doc Rivers/Photo by Associated Press
The Clippers will open their six-game exhibition season Friday when they play host to the Denver Nuggets at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center. Then they travel for a Sunday game against Toronto in Canada before embarking on a trip to China, where they will play the Charlotte Hornets on Oct. 10 and Oct. 14.
It’s good for bonding, Doc Rivers said, especially for a team with so many new faces.
“The China travel is a little much, but if we’re going to go, I guess this year would probably be the right year to go because we have so many guys,” he said. “It will give us a chance to get to know each other a little bit better.”
The Clippers’ final two exhibition games will be Oct. 20 against Golden State and Oct. 22 against Portland – both games will be at Staples Center.
Doc Rivers/Photo by Associated Press
Coach Doc Rivers on Monday talked about how spirited the first few days of camp have been at UC Irvine. There were two scrimmages this day, with the first and second units each winning one.
“It’s been good,” Rivers said. “And I think it’s been great for the starters because they have to deal with guys coming after them and not really showing them a lot of … you know, they’re just playing them.”
Newcomer Lance Stephenson has been playing with the second unit. He likes making the first unit sweat, and vice-versa.
“Definitely, we want them to work hard and we want them to push us at the same time, man,” he said. “That’s what Doc picked us up for and we came to help the team, to help the second unit and make it hard for them (the first unit) in practice. So come the game, they’ll be ready and we’ll be ready.”
Josh Smith/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets
Power forward Josh Smith likes a lot of things about his new team. The seriousness with which it has conducted itself the first three days of training camp is at the top of the list.
“It’s definitely competitive,” Smith said Monday from training camp at UC Irvine. “We see the vision early and what’s great about what’s going on is there is no air space for any BS, you know what I mean? There’s a lot of policing going around, which is great for the team to be able to kind of get everybody geared on the right vision and right direction to go.”
Which direction is that? Smith was asked.
“Winning the championship, finishing last,” he said.
“Our owner (Steve Ballmer) had a team dinner a couple of days ago and that’s what really stuck to me,” he said. “Everybody always wants to be first, but it’s all about being last, finishing last, being the last team standing. And that really stuck with me. And if everyone has that mentality, we can do some special things this year. “
Lance Stephenson/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, Charlotte Hornets
Lance Stephenson on Monday afternoon stood inside the Bren Center at UC Irvine following the third of five training days there. Stephenson is one of the several new players on this Clippers team, and he was shaking his head when asked about the abundance of talent suiting up every day.
“The talent on this team, I mean, even when we’re playing in scrimmages, it feels like an All-Star game to me,” said Stephenson, a 6-foot-5 wing. “I feel like this squad has so many weapons and we’ve just gotta put it together and put in the pieces and work hard and bring it to guys.”
This will not be a boring team, Stephenson said. Quite the contrary.
“I mean, they was fun to watch before I got here,” he said. “So adding me and Josh (Smith), I mean, we’ve got Paul Pierce. We’ve got so many exciting players to watch, I think our team is the team to watch.”
Austin Rivers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
It was Monday, the third day of training camp for the Clippers at UC Irvine. Third-year coach Doc Rivers has seen a lot in a short time, what with several new faces on the team.
But after practice, he was asked if any of the returning players had shown him anything new or surprising. He proceeded to speak specifically about his son, reserve guard Austin Rivers, and post DeAndre Jordan.
“I think Austin is playing more like the playoffs all the time now,” Doc Rivers said. “He’s been very good, hard to stop. And then his defense has been great. But that’s something we saw at the end of the year, anyway, so I guess we expected that.
“Other than that, everybody’s just better. D.J.’s better. D.J.’s in great shape, he’s playing terrific. I guess D.J.’s passing has surprised me. He’s really making great passes from the post and we haven’t seen that.”
Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
Jamal Crawford heard the rumors during the off-season, and he’s on Twitter, so he sees all that. He knew there were once again trade rumors with his name mentioned. With all the new player acquisitions, his departure seemed a possibility.
It was a bit nerve-racking, he said at training camp this week in Irvine.
“There were some stressful points, there were some points where it was like, you know what? It’s part of the business,” he said. “I was looking back, and from my first year here, the only three guys here who I played with are Blake (Griffin), D.J. (DeAndre Jordan) and Chris (Paul), and myself. So I guess in that time I’m one of those four guys who have been here. So, obviously, I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
Crawford, 35, is entering his 16th season, fourth with the Clippers.