It’s true the Clippers’ road record of 19-16 is not terrific. However, during their recent 11-game winning streak, they did win all five of their away games.
Interestingly, coach Doc Rivers said that is all immaterial as it relates to the playoffs, which begin in less than a month.
“It doesn’t matter right now,” Rivers said ahead of Saturday’s game against the visiting Detroit Pistons. “We’re going to have to win on the road in the playoffs. Bottom line. Whether we lose the rest of the road games in the regular season, we’re going to have to go in somebody’s building and win a big game on the road.
“That’s just it. There is no preparation for that, there really isn’t. You can win all your regular season road games, it still doesn’t prepare you for it. You’ve just gotta to out and win on the road, and you’ve gotta know that going into it. And if you don’t, then we’ll be back home, and that’s a fact.”
Matt Barnes has a reputation as being a hard-nosed player and a live wire, and sometimes it gets him in trouble with officials. Though he is not the league leader, he does have three flagrant fouls this year and two ejections. His coach, Doc Rivers, is not bemoaning that one bit.
“Well, I think half of that’s earned, half of that’s misunderstood,” Rivers said of Barnes’ stature. “But I don’t think you’re given a reputation, I think you earn one, for the most part. And sometimes if it’s not true, you have to live your life or whatever and try to dispell it.
“I like what Matt brings and I like his reputation. He’s on the edge, and that’s good. He’s keeping it clean, and that’s good.”
Well, somewhat clean, anyway.
Jared Sullinger of Boston leads the NBA with six flagrant fouls.
One of the topics of discussion at Thursday’s practice was the two days off the team received from coach Doc Rivers. In other words, no mandatory practice Tuesday and Wednesday.
Chris Paul told reporters he liked having the time to spend with his family. Rivers agreed that’s a big deal.
“I think it’s important,” Rivers said.
That doesn’t mean the players stay completely away, however, and Rivers likes that.
“I think every team’s different,” he said. “I mean, I think in most cases even on the days off most guys work out anyway; they’re going to do something. This group has been very good at that. … I would say 95 percent of them come in and get work in. We have one of those groups. It’s a working group.
“We don’t really have any slackers, other than some of you guys.”
He got a laugh out of reporters..
“No, no, really, it’s a good group,” he said. “And it’s a little surprising for me because they’re young and sometimes the young guys, you’ve gotta tell them. This is not one of those groups, and that’s nice.”
Guard Jamal Crawford has missed eight of the past nine games with a strained left calf. At Thursday’s practice in Playa Vista he talked about how badly he wants to get back in the game, and he said he may play Saturday when his team hosts the Detroit Pistons.
One person in his family, his young son J.J., is wondering why the heck his pops has not played lately.
“It’s funny, but my son, J.J. – because he still comes to the games even when I don’t play – he was like, ‘Dad, why aren’t you playing basketball anymore?’ And I’m like,’Yeah, OK, it’s time for me to get back out there.'”
Crawford turned 34 on Thursday.
J.J. Redick has been an important part of the Clippers this season, but staying healthy has been an issue for the guard out of Duke. He has missed 39 of his team’s 69 games, including the past 18 with a bulging disc in his lower back.
Coach Doc Rivers said before practice Thursday at the team’s facility in Playa Vista that he just isn’t sure when Redick will return to action.
“If J.J. comes back tomorrow, we’re good,” Rivers said. “If J.J. comes back in three weeks, we’re good. If J.J. comes back in eight weeks and we’re still alive, we’re good. So I don’t
think there is a timetable.”
Redick has averaged 15.7 points and 2.2 assists in the 30 games in which he’s played.
Point guard Chris Paul is averaging a league-high 10.9 assists this season. That is absolutely terrific, and there is no question he is headed toward an eventual date with the Hall of Fame.
But the 28-year-old out of Wake Forest has a long way to go to catch those in front of him on the all-time leader board. He has 5,996 assists overall, which puts him in 27th place. The leader is John Stockton, who had 15,806 over 19 seasons. He is well ahead of second-place Jason Kidd’s 12,091. Paul will climb much higher on that ladder before he’s done, but it will be all but impossible to catch Stockton.
Average-wise, Paul is in much better position. He is averaging 9.9. That is third all-time behind Magic Johnson (11.1) and Stockton (10.5). Johnson, by the way, is fifth in total assists with 10,141 in 13 seasons.
Paul is currently in his ninth season.