Clippers return to practice after nearly a month of busy game schedule

Clippers return to practice after nearly a month of busy game schedule
Jamal Crawford talks with Blake Griffin during the first half of a game against the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 27. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Sneakers squeaked, balls bounced and voices carried across the court.

Twenty-eight days later, the Clippers practiced again.

In his six seasons with the team (he sat out one season because of a knee injury), forward Blake Griffin could not recall having gone this long between practices.

"It's like a weird feeling being here getting taped, getting ready for practice," Griffin said Friday morning before a session that was expected to last about 90 minutes.


Coach Doc Rivers said the Clippers would work on "a lot of stuff," including execution and pick-and-roll defense, to address some of the areas in which they had slipped since their last formal practice Dec. 5.

The team went 9-6 over a nearly monthlong stretch in which it did not have more than one day off between games. Rivers had contemplated resting his players for a game or two but instead gave them time off when they weren't playing.

"I don't think there's really much else to do," Griffin said. "I mean, you could practice, but I think the biggest thing for all of us is having our legs for games, and that's kind of the way to do it without sitting guys out of games."

Griffin, 25, said he would have been against sitting out a game to rest.

"I don't really like sitting out unless you're hurt, especially for me," Griffin said. "This is my fifth year [playing]. There are other guys that have a lot more years, a lot more mileage on them, so I didn't want to sit out."

Rivers anticipated practicing more in the coming weeks, even though his team has only four instances this month in which it will have more than one day between games. One possible tradeoff, Rivers said, would be to reduce the number of shoot-arounds before games.

The coach said his team would practice again Sunday even though it has games Saturday and Monday. That would make two practices in three days, something the Clippers have not done since early in the season.

A developing situation

Rivers said the Clippers were mulling an attempt to acquire their own Development League team for a variety of reasons beyond developing young players.

"It's good for management too," Rivers said. "You can bring coaches in to run your stuff, you can see if they're capable people, even down to the administration, marketing, PR, everything. It builds your whole organization and gives young people a chance to get in on the ground floor and build up the organization."

Rivers said he did not think the growth of rookie guard C.J. Wilcox and second-year forward Reggie Bullock had suffered as a result of not being assigned to a minor league team, in part because Bullock was injured for much of last season.

"That one you go back and forth on," Rivers said of sending players to the D-League. "I think a lot of the good teams send [young players] down for a couple of games but bring them back because they think it's more important for them to be around the [NBA] team than away from the team."

Summer plans

The Clippers will participate in the Orlando Summer Pro League this year, and not just because it's close to Rivers' off-season home.

"It's the perfect summer league to me," Rivers said. "Not too many games, I like the small audiences. It's not a show."

Other teams scheduled to participate are the Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons.

Rivers said he did not know whether the Clippers would also play in the Las Vegas summer league as they have in the past. Unlike its counterpart, the Orlando Summer Pro League is closed to the public.

"It's a teaching summer league to me," Rivers said.

Twitter: @latbbolch