Doc Rivers didn’t feel comfortable at Phoenix, even with a big lead late

Matt Barnes on Sunday puts up a shot against Eric Bledsoe of Phoenix/Photo by Associated Press

 

Even with just a few minutes left and a lead of 17 points (101-94) over the Phoenix Suns following a 15-0 run Sunday, Clippers coach Doc Rivers intimated he didn’t think his team was out of the woods because of how rapidly Phoenix can get on an offensive roll.

“We talked about it before the game; Phoenix doesn’t go away,” said Rivers, whose team won 120-100 at US Airways Center in Phoenix. “There’s no lead safe when you have Isaiah Thomas and (Eric) Bledsoe and (Goran) Dragic and Gerald Green on the other team. Honest to goodness, with three minutes left, I did not feel safe.

“That’s who they are. They’re capable and you  have to keep your focus when you’re playing them.”

The Clippers (30-14) on Monday night host the Denver Nuggets (18-26) at 7:30.

Clippers come away with impressive 120-100 victory at Phoenix

Chris Paul

Chris Paul had 23 points and 12 assists in Sunday’s win at Phoenix/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers on Sunday afternoon took a 12-point lead over the host Phoenix Suns into the fourth quarter and then the Clippers outscored Phoenix by eight points in the final stanza to come away with an impressive 120-100 victory at US Airways Center in Phoenix.

The Clippers (30-14) got 23 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds from Chris Paul; 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists from Blake Griffin; 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks from DeAndre Jordan; 20 points from J.J. Redick; Spencer Hawes scored 11; and Jamal Crawford had 10 points.

The Clippers shot 49.4 percent from the field, 43.5 (10 of 23) from 3-point range. Matt Barnes had an off-night, shooting just 1 of 9 from the field for four points.

Isaiah Thomas led the Suns (26-20) with 25 points off the bench. Eric Bledsoe had 17 points, Alex Len scored 15 and Goran Dragic just 10 on 3 of 11 shooting.

Chris Paul sits out fourth straight as Eric Bledsoe learns on the job

Chris Paul sat out Sunday for the fourth consecutive game and for the seventh time in nine contests because of a bruised right kneecap, which meant Eric Bledsoe replaced him as the Clippers’ starting point guard for the fourth straight game and the seventh time in nine contests.

It’s uncertain when Paul will be sound enough to practice or play, with coach Vinny Del Negro saying there was no timetable for his return to active duty. Paul was injured when he knocked knees with J.J. Redick of the Orlando Magic on Jan. 12.

Continue reading

Eric Bledsoe makes his mark on another Clippers victory

Eric Bledsoe had his hand in another Clippers victory, this time a 102-83 win Sunday afternoon over the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center. That wasn’t exactly front page news, as far as the Clippers were concerned.

“I really think he’s going to be a star,” teammate Chauncey Billups said before Bledsoe scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds and added six assists in the Clippers’ sixth consecutive win. Billups also called Bledsoe “a freak athlete,” adding, “I haven’t see many players with the athleticism he has. I see something new from him every night.

“It’s a gift from God.”

Bledsoe always had the physical part within him, as evidenced by his raw skills.

What’s new this season is his ability to think the game a little better.

“Experience is always the best teacher,” said Billups, a guard playing his16th season in the NBA.” I can tell him to look for this. Be ready for this. Or they’re going to do this. He’ll come back and say, ‘Dang, Chauncey, you know what they did?’ And I’ll say, ‘I told you to look for it.’

“The more minutes he plays, the more situations he’s in, in games, he sees it for himself. Because he’s waiting on it. Maybe he missed it. (But) he’ll pick it up and he won’t get beat again. It’s been a joy to see his development.”

Bledsoe, who turned 23 on Sunday and is playing his third season with the Clippers, continues to develop a sound earth-bound game to go with his high-wire act. His perimeter jump shot, like teammate Blake Griffin’s, is something of a work in progress.

“When he gets more consistent with it, he’s going to be impossible to guard,” Billups said. “He’s going to be a nightmare matchup. You get right up on him, and he’ll just go right by you.”

Point guard Chris Paul put it this way: “I play against him every day in practice. When you get in a game and it’s not ‘EBled’ on you, it’s almost like you’re in a rocking chair.”

 

Eric Bledsoe makes one list of the NBA’s most improved players

Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe has gone from dud to stud, according to a story in The New York Times on the NBA’s most-improved players so far in 2012-13. Bledsoe joined fellow point guard Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers, a former UCLA standout, and Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks on the Times’ list.

Of the hyper-kenetic Bledsoe, the Times wrote:

“In his first two seasons in the NBA, Eric Bledsoe was largely an unproductive bench player for the Los Angeles Clippers. Entering this season, his true shooting percentage — a measure of scoring efficiency that takes into account 2-point field goals, 3-pointers and free throws — was .489 for his career.

“To make matters worse, he was turning the ball over on about 26 percent of his plays (a play is defined as an offensive sequence that results in a shot from the floor, three throws or a turnover), one of the worst rates in the league over that time.

“The Clippers were not ready to write off the 22-year-old Bledsoe, and he has rewarded them for their patience: his true shooting percentage this season has improved to .563, and he has reduced his turnover rate to 16.7 percent.

“Bledsoe has managed to become a much more efficent player despite taking on a larger role in the offense, as his usage percentage — the percentage of team plays a player uses while he is on the floor — has improved from a career average of 18.1 percent entering the season to 26.3 percent this season.”

Or as we used to say in my neighborhood, “Dude can play.”