After flopping at San Antonio, Clippers bench shines at Houston

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Austin Rivers, center, of the Clippers battles with Houston’s James Harden and Dwight Howard during Wednesday’s game at Houston/AP photo by Pat Sullivan


The Clippers’ second unit took some heat after its rather lousy performance in Tuesday night’s 108-87 loss at San Antonio. In it, Clippers reserves scored only 20 points and shot just 6 of 22 from the field (27.2 percent). Spurs reserves scored 51 points.

But Wednesday, it was a different deal. The Clippers’ second unit scored 47 points and shot a combined 17 of 29 (58.6 percent) in their 122-106 win at Houston.

Struggling Wes Johnson shot 5 of 5, Austin Rivers was 4 of 8, Paul Pierce 3 of 6, Jamal Crawford 4 of 9 and Cole Aldrich made his only shot.

Starting point guard Chris Paul, who stuck up for the bench a night earlier, liked what he saw.

“They definitely challenged themselves,” Paul said. “Like we said, in San Antonio last night, we are a team and we stick together.”

Clippers don’t have a comeback in them this time, fall at OKC

Jeff Green

Jeff Green led the Clippers with 23 points on Wednesday at Oklahoma City/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


The Clippers didn’t have a comeback in them this time. A week after they came from 17 points down after three quarters to earn a five-point victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center, the Clippers took on the Thunder on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder led by 19 points with 6:35 to play and the Clippers quickly whittled six points off that to trail by 13. But OKC eventually prevailed 120-108 in the pivotal Western Conference game at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The victory gave third-place OKC (44-20) some breathing room as it now leads the Clippers (41-22) by 2 1/2 games in the conference standings.

Jeff Green led the Clippers with 23 points on 10 of 13 shooting, J.J. Redick scored 22, DeAndre Jordan had 18 points but only seven rebounds – well below his season average of 14.1 – and Chris Paul had 12  points, 16 assists and five steals. Jamal Crawford led the reserves with 16 points and Cole Aldrich had 10 points and six rebounds.

The two-headed monster of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook was just mean. Durant had 30 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Westbrook had 25 points, 20 assists and 11 rebounds. However, Westbrook did have seven turnovers and Durant committed six.

The Thunder outrebounded the Clippers by a whopping 52-29 count.



Austin Rivers says comments in radio interview misconstrued

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


The subject line in the email sent by Fox Sports Radio read, “Austin Rivers says the Clippers have moved the ball better without Blake Griffin.”

The younger Rivers, a backup guard, did an interview this week with the Steve Gorman Sports show. He was asked by Jeffrey Gorman, “… You guys are humming without the great Blake Griffin. How does he come back and everything is seamless?”

Rivers’ response was emailed to Clippers beat writers.

“You’ve got to understand, because we haven’t played with Blake, our ball movement has been a lot better,” Austin Rivers said, according to the transcript. “I think we learned a mutual thing that’s like, ‘All right, listen Blake, since you’ve been out, we’ve learned to move the ball better, so when you come back, we’re still going to play like that. But now we have you back, we’re still going to play through you at the same time.’

“So I think we’ve both have learned things. There’s times when it’s obvious we need Blake, so I think it’s a learning experience for both of us. There’s no way we could be worse with Blake Griffin back on our team. It’s not possible. He’s one of the best players in the NBA, so we can’t wait to have him back.”

Rivers was rather stunned to find out that the station thought his comments controversial enough to send them out. He told reporters prior to Saturday’s game against the visiting Atlanta Hawks what he was trying to convey.

“I meant to say, like, we  have to move the ball better without Blake,” he said. “I mean, it’s like, common (sense). I thought people would be smart enough to know what that means. Blake’s not playing, obviously we have to move the ball. I said that in that interview as well, that we’re a better team with Blake. Without Blake, we have to move the ball better.”

Rivers offered an analogy.

“It’s like if Cleveland played without LeBron (James), they’d have to figure out a way to move the ball because their best player is not playing,” he said. “It’s common sense.”

Austin’s father, Clippers coach Doc Rivers, suggested that what his son said was misconstrued.

“No, I don’t think he meant to say that, the way that sounds,” Doc Rivers said. “The ball movement has been better, but the ball movement started moving right before Blake left. … Probably about two or three weeks before Blake got injured, our ball movement changed.

“Really, the second unit’s ball movement changed as well when we started playing Cole (Aldrich) and Pablo (Prigioni) as well. Our ball movement won’t change at all (upon Griffin’s return). I think, if anything, it may increase.”

Griffin (quad tendon, fractured hand) has not played since Dec. 25. He could be back around the middle of this month, or shortly thereafter.

Five things to take from Clippers’ 105-95 victory over Brooklyn

L. A. Clipper Cole Aldrich,45,  goes up to block the shot of Brooklyn’s , Thomas Robinson,41, during the second quarter at the Staples Center.  Los Angeles Calif., Monday, February,29, 2016.       
 (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Cole Aldrich (45) of the Clippers plays defense on Brooklyn’s Thomas Robinson (41) during Monday’s game at Staples Center/Staff photo by Stephen Carr


Chris Paul had yet another in a long line of fine games. He scored 23 points, doled out 12 assists, grabbed six rebounds and made two steals in 36 minutes. Prior to tip-off, Nets interim coach Tony Brown agreed with Clippers coach Doc Rivers that if not for Golden State’s Steph Curry, Paul would be a legitimate MVP candidate.

Jamal Crawford provided terrific offense, scoring 26 points off the bench in just over 25 minutes. He shot 10 of 17, 3 of 4 from 3-point range. He also made two steals. Crawford scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, when the Clippers were finally putting a bit of distance between themselves and the Nets.

– The Clippers (39-20) had a difficult time putting the Nets away. It made sense. The Clippers are under enormous pressure, as they always are as the post-season gets closer and closer. The Nets, who are just 17-43, have absolutely nothing to lose from a team standpoint. When they went up early on the Clippers, they were having the time of their lives, hooting and hollering on the bench. Sometimes, those are the most dangerous teams to play, record and overall lack of talent notwithstanding. It could also be that the Clippers were thinking about Wednesday night’s showdown with Oklahoma City at Staples Center.

Paul Pierce was back in this one after missing Friday’s victory at Sacramento. Pierce played 22-plus minutes and scored eight points on 3 of 5 shooting. He also pulled down five rebounds and had two assists and a steal in a nice stint.

– Sometimes a guy doesn’t play that many minutes and still makes a significant impact. Cole Aldrich played 11 minutes and scored two points. But the hard-playing reserve post grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots.

Doc Rivers said he now knows that dancing is ‘not a racial thing’

Cole Aldrich

Alex Stepheson, above, and Cole Aldrich (top right)/Stepheson photo by Otto Kitsinger, Getty Images


The Clippers have this thing where the last player in the locker room after a victory has to dance in the Soul Train line. Although Alex Stepheson was not the last man in after Monday’s 124-84 victory over Phoenix, he was nevertheless coerced into dancing because the 28-year-old out of Harvard Westlake High scored his first NBA points late in the game.

During Wednesday’s pre-game news conference ahead of his team’s game against the Denver Nuggets, coach Doc Rivers said Cole Aldrich was the worst dancer he’d ever seen, but that Stepheson was not far behind.

Then this.

“We now know it’s not a racial thing,” Rivers said, drawing a lot of laughter from reporters.

Aldrich is white, Stepheson is African-American.

“It was bad,” Rivers said of Stepheson’s dance. “Maybe it’s a height thing. If you’re over 6-9, you just can’t dance. That might be it.”

Aldrich is 6-foot-11. Stepheson, who is on a 10-day contract, is 6-10.

Five things to take from Clippers’ 120-93 victory over Chicago

Wesley Johnson plays tough defense on Jimmy Butler of the Bulls in the Clippers’ 120-93 victory on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center/Staff photo by Hans Gutknecht


– Once again the bench sparkled. Jamal Crawford scored 26 points on 11 of 15 shooting, Austin Rivers scored 16 and was 5 of 6 from 3-point range and Wesley Johnson scored 11 on 4 of 8 shooting – 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. The bench outscored the Bulls bench 58-18. The Clippers shot 53.1 percent (17 of 32) from long-distance.

J.J. Redick had a very poor shooting game on Friday against the Lakers, making just 2 of 10 from the field, 1 of 6 from 3-point range. He rebounded nicely in this one, scoring 21 points 7 of 11 from the field – 4 of 4 from deep, where Redick is shooting a league-leading 48.6 percent.

DeAndre Jordan continued his rebounding tear, pulling down 20. He has had 19, 19, 17 and 20 rebounds his past four games and has raised his season average to 13.8, second to Andre Drummond (15.0) of Detroit. Jordan also had 17 points, four assists, four blocks and a steal

Paul Pierce’s struggles continued. He played just under 16 minutes and missed all six of his field-goal attempts, five of them coming from 3-point range. The 38-year-old Pierce is shooting 33.6 percent from the field overall, by far the worst percentage of his career, which is in its 18th season. He’s shooting 30.6 percent from beyond the arc, third-worst of his career. He shot 30.2 percent from there in 2002-03 and 29.9 percent in 2003-04.

– Considering the Clippers are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, it’s always news when they outrebound an opponent. They did that in this one, taking 46 to Chicago’s 42. Besides Jordan’s 20, Lance Stephenson grabbed six boards in less than 10 minutes off the bench. Cole Aldrich and Redick had four apiece.