Five things to take from Clippers’ 104-93 loss to Denver Nuggets

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Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes is 2 of 24 from the field/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

- Jamal Crawford started in place of J.J. Redick, who was given the night off by coach Doc Rivers. Crawford has been a real bright spot on the offense thus far, and he was again with 23 points on 6 of 12 shooting. He made 4 of 7 from 3-point range as well as all seven of his free throws in 36 minutes. Crawford has played in four of the five exhibition games (the Clippers are 1-4). He has scored 14, 23, 25 and 23 points while making 27 of 48 (56.2 percent) from the field.

- Rivers started Australian Joe Ingles at small forward like he said he would. With Rivers still trying to confirm the starter there, Ingles did nothing eye-popping. He played 19 minutes, missed both of his field goal attempts and made 3 of 4 from the free-throw line for three points. He also had three rebounds, an assist and four personal fouls.

- What in the heck is going on with Matt Barnes? He missed all nine of his field-goal attempts, and was 0-for-6 from three-point range in 28 minutes off the bench. In playing four of the five games, Barnes is 2-for-24 from the field. Seriously. That is 8.3 percent.

- As a unit, Los Angeles shot just 37 percent (27 of 73), 24 percent (6 of 25) from 3-point range. Much of that damage was done by Barnes. Blake Griffin shot 9 of 19 and had 27 points, Chris Paul shot 5 of 13 for 13 points. Spencer Hawes, who has been real good, had an off night. He made just 1 of 4 from the field for six points. DeAndre Jordan was 4 of 4 from the field, but he missed both of his free-throw attempts.

- The Clippers had their highest free-throw percentage of the exhibition season. They made 33 of 45 for 73.3 percent. Their other percentages were 71, 59.1, 72.7 and 59.3. Besides Crawford’s 7-for-7 night, Griffin made 9 of 13. Ingles, Chris Paul and Hawes all made 3 of 4 and Jared Cunningham 7 of 9 in just eight minutes of action.

 

 

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Matt Barnes believes team is pressing because of emotional 2013-14

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Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

Matt Barnes told reporters Wednesday at the team’s training facility in Playa Vista that he believes the Clippers are, perhaps, trying too hard to get off on the right foot after such an emotional 2013-14 campaign. That’s why they are 0-3 in exhibition play ahead of Friday’s game against Utah at Staples Center.

“I think everyone’s pressing a little bit,” Barnes said before practice. “I think on paper we have the team to beat, I personally think, and I think we feel that way. And after everything that happened last year, you know, we want to come out and have it so bad. And I think everyone’s just overthinking the game a little bit. And we’ve been talking to ourselves a little bit about this lately and everything seems to come down to playing basketball.”

His advice to himself and his teammates?

“Relax, relax,” Barnes said. “I mean, I found myself overthinking. I’m talking to Chris (Paul) and J.J. (Redick) and some of these guys, and we’re pressing a little too much. Like I said, we want this so bad and want this to be such a magical season that our foot’s all the way on the gas right now. We have to realize that, like Doc (Rivers) said, ‘You have to appreciate the process, enjoy the process and continue to get better.’ “

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 119-114 loss Sunday at Portland

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Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

- First and foremost, the Clippers need to defend better – in particular, the 3-point shot. The Trail Blazers shot 53.9 percent overall from the field, an almost-unbelievable 68 percent (17 of 25) from 3-point range.

- Sixth man Jamal Crawford had his second solid performance in as many exhibition games. He scored a game-high 23 points while making 8 of 13 from the field, 6 of 8 from 3-point range. In the team’s first exhibition – a 112-94 loss to Golden State on Oct. 7 – Crawford had 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting, 2 of 6 from 3-point range. Crawford recently tweeted that even at 34, he believes he’s getting better. Perhaps, he’s right.

- The Clippers shot just 59.1 percent (13 of 22) from the free-throw line. Most of the damage to that percentage was done by none other than DeAndre Jordan, who made just 3 of 9. Jordan needs to find his way at the free-throw line. He has a career percentage of just 42.5; he shot 42.8 percent this past season.

- Newly acquired reserve post Spencer Hawes had his second strong game with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. He shot just 5 of 13 from the field, but was 3 of 6 from 3-point range. He also had a really strong drive in traffic for a layup that may have opened some eyes.

- Matt Barnes had his second poor shooting night in succession. He was 1-for-7 from the field after shooting 1 of 4 against Golden State. He was 1 of 5 from 3-point range, meaning he is just 1 of 8 from there in two games. Barnes would rather come off the bench, and he did that Sunday after starting Oct. 7.

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Matt Barnes: Spencer Hawes gives team another hard-nosed player

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Spencer Hawes

Spencer Hawes/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

Matt Barnes is a hard-nosed player. Dirty, perhaps, at times. Apparently, that’s one of the things he likes about his new teammate – 7-foot post Spencer Hawes.

Hawes had 12 technical fouls, two flagrants and one ejection last season with Philadelphia and Cleveland.

“I think the biggest (addition) is going to be Spencer,” Barnes said. “Someone 7-foot who can shoot the ball, pass the ball, playmaker,  a dirty guy, a tough guy, probably one of the biggest free-agent pickups of the summer that people really aren’t talking about as much as they should.”

Barnes was speaking at Clippers Media Day on Monday. When it was time for Hawes to take the dais, he was told of Barnes’ comments about his style of play and agreed they were on the money.

“I think so,” Hawes said. “I think as I’ve gotten a little older I’ve been able to contain a little more. But I think that’s just kind of my personality and I think with a guy like Matt, there are some similarities there. And I think that’s what kind of makes me good and sometimes what draws me back, so there’s a fine line there.”

Hawes has career scoring and rebounding averages of 9.7 and 6.4, respectively. He has seven seasons under his belt even though he is just 26 because he was in the league at age 19.

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Hard-nosed Matt Barnes took positive steps in controlling his temper

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Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes left Clippers forward Blake Griffsecond from left tangle with OklahomCity Thunder forward Serge Ibaksecond

Photo by Associated Press

Matt Barnes just completed his 11th season in the NBA, and he put up some of his better numbers. He averaged 9.9 points – his career-best is 10.3 – while pulling down 4.6 rebounds and doling out 2.0 assists. He also shot 43.8 percent from the field, 34.3 percent (97 of 283) from 3-point range.
One of the things about Barnes, he is one tough hombre. He doesn’t shy away from contact, he is not afraid to take a crucial shot with the game in the balance. If he is
having a good game, the energy with which he plays seems to pump up his teammates.

Barnes also took some positive strides when it comes to technical fouls and such. In 2012-13, he had 10 technical fouls, four flagrant and two ejections during the regular season. In this just-concluded 2013-14 campaign under first-year coach Doc Rivers, Barnes had just four technical fouls, three flagrant, two ejections.

This was an issue that both Rivers and Barnes discussed with reporters many times during the season. Rivers said he tried to impress upon Barnes that playing hard and committing needless technical and flagrant fouls are not the same thing. One can play very hard without creating unnecessary hardship for his team, the thinking was.

Barnes also had some very bright moments on defense, making him an important part of the Clippers’ lineup.

That doesn’t mean Barnes should rest on his laurels. After all, there were some games where he contributed very little. Invisibility is the type of thing that every player wants to avoid.

Barnes should be in the fold again next season as he is signed for 2014-15 for $3,396,250, with a club option for 2015-16 for $3,542,500.

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Doc Rivers fined $25,000 for blasting officials after Game 5 defeat

Coach Doc Rivers on Thursday was fined $25,000 by the NBA for his sharp criticism of officials that worked Game 5 of his team’s Western Conference semifinals series at Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Rivers lashed out in the post-game news conference after his team blew a 13-point lead with 4:11 to play, losing 105-104 to fall behind 3-2 in the series. The play in question was an out-of-bounds play where the ball certainly appeared to go off the hand of OKC’s Reggie Jackson with 11.3 seconds to play. Officials said the replay was inconclusive and the call made on the court stood, the Thunder retaining possession of the ball.

That led to Chris Paul’s 3-point area foul on Russell Westbrook with 6.4 seconds left, and Westbrook made all three free throws for the winning points.

Afterward, Rivers referred to the call as “brutal” and “horrendous” and suggested officials were making up for not having called a foul on Matt Barnes on said play; it did appear Barnes fouled Jackson.

Barnes had Rivers’ back at the morning shootaround ahead of Game 6 Thursday night at Staples Center.

“I think it was needed,” Barnes said. “He’s done a great job all year of being a shield for this team with all the unfortunate stuff that’s come up during the playoffs.”

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Matt Barnes longs for days when physical play was more tolerated, then again …

Forward Matt Barnes – known as somewhat of a bad boy in the NBA – told reporters at practice Friday that he longed for the days when the game was more physical and players could get away with being that way more than they can today..

This was the result of Barnes on Thursday watching ESPN’s “Bad Boys” on 30 for 30, a documentary centering on the rough Detroit Pistons of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their reputation for hard-nosed, dirty play earned them that moniker.

Barnes was asked what would happen if he was fouling that way in this day and age.

“If I did some of those fouls they had last night that I saw, I’d probably have to find a new job,” Barnes said. “Take my kids out of private school, cut my wife’s allowance.”

Reporters were laughing out-loud.

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Can Clippers take advantage of absence of Warriors post Andrew Bogut?

As of now the Golden State Warriors are saying that center Andrew Bogut will not play against the Clippers when the first-round Western Conference playoff series opens Saturday afternoon at Staples Center, and because he has a fractured rib he could miss the entire series.

Although Bogut could materialize at some point if for no other reason than he’s apparently tough and this is the postseason, it will be interesting to see if the Clippers can take advantage of his absence for the time being.

“He’s the anchor of their defense,” Clippers forward Matt Barnes said. “Tremendous rebounder, help-side defender, blocks shots, and it’s going to help us. But they have J.O. (back center Jermaine O’Neal) and (forward) Draymond Green – they’ll probably play small  – so that poses other problems, too.”

Bogut, who is 7-foot and 245 pounds, leads the Warriors in rebounding with a 10.0 average. He also averages 1.8 blocks and 7.3 points.

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Five things to look for in Clippers’ game Wednesday at Phoenix

- Look for the Goran Dragic-led Suns to give an inspiring effort. As of right now they are tied with Memphis for the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings. Ninth-place Dallas is only a half-game behind those two. Phoenix and Memphis are both 44-30 and have eight games left each. Dallas is 44-31 with seven games remaining.

- Look for Chris Paul to continue his terrific play. The Clippers are 3-1 on this road trip. In the game they lost – March 26 at New Orleans – Paul was 0 of 12 from the field and scored just two points. In successive victories over Dallas, Houston and Minnesota, he has scored 31, 30 and 22 points with 30 assists.

- Expect another heavy rebounding night from DeAndre Jordan, who seems to be getting stronger and even more dynamic as the regular season nears an end. Not only is he leading the NBA in rebounding with a 13.9 average, check this out: he has 67 rebounds on the road trip. That’s a 16.7 average. He had 24 Monday at Minnesota.

- If Blake Griffin is out again because of his back, expect Jared Dudley to again be a capable replacement. Keep in mind that even though he did not play Monday, Griffin did dress, meaning he wasn’t that far from being able to go. If Jamal Crawford (calf) also misses his second consecutive game, that could be a lot to deal with against a team fighting for it’s playoff life.

- If Griffin and Crawford play and are at least close to being reasonably healthy, the Clippers win this game going away because they are rolling right now.  Even without those two they could win because along with Paul and Jordan, Matt Barnes and Darren Collison have been heavy contributors.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 118-107 victory at Houston

- First and foremost, coach Doc Rivers is in control of this team. When Glen “Big Baby” Davis went too far in voicing his displeasure over being taken out of the game early in the second quarter, Rivers sent him to the locker room to stay for the rest of the game. Rivers said this in an Associated Press story: “I thought ‘Baby’ was just too emotional and for me if you’re too emotional I just always send you back to the locker room and keep you back there until the next game. But I love ‘Baby.’ I just didn’t think emotionally he was ready to play tonight.”

- The Clippers are really starting to show the mettle it will take them to make a long run in the post-season. When Blake Griffin went down with back spasms after just six minutes of playing time, and then Davis was sent to the locker room early in the second quarter, they were down 13 points. But the Clippers ended up outscoring the Rockets 38-25 in that second quarter on their way to their second consecutive victory on this road trip that still has stops Monday in Minnesota and Wednesday at Phoenix.

- Chris Paul, like a superstar should, is really elevating his game as the playoffs near. As good as he’s been all year, he has shown the past two games what a leader and a great player do when adversity strikes. Paul was 0 of 12 from the field in a loss at New Orleans on Wednesday. He came back with 31 points in a win Thursday at Dallas and 30 more Saturday, when he also came through with 12 assists, five rebounds and three steals. Oh, and he had just one turnover in 39 minutes. Other than that, he didn’t do a thing.

- Really like what Matt Barnes did in this one. Fifteen points and 10 rebounds, including a big 3-pointer late in the game that helped sealed Houston’s fate. Barnes is a hard-nosed guy who plays with lots of emotion. If he’s playing well, it’s such a boost to the team. One thing, his 10 3-point attempts seem a little much. He made three.

- It’s true that center Dwight Howard (ankle) and point guard Patrick Beverley (knee) were out for the Rockets. But Houston was still at home, and the Clippers were still without Griffin – the best player on either team – and reserve Danny Granger (hamstring). This was a solid victory. Keep in mind that’s three road games in three cities in four days for the Clippers.

 

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