CLIPPERS

Clippers' Doc Rivers finally will coach against Rajon Rondo

Doc Rivers finally will face Rajon Rondo when the Clippers host the Mavericks on Saturday

Doc Rivers has had his tearful return to TD Garden.

He's hugged Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen before and after coaching against the stars who helped him win his only NBA title.

That leaves Rajon Rondo as the last significant link from Rivers' 2007-08 Boston Celtics team that he has not faced since becoming the Clippers' coach.

That changes Saturday afternoon when the Clippers play the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center.

It could be another emotional reunion for the coach who once famously told Rondo that his Celtics teammates didn't like playing with him because of his dour nature and inability to shrug off their mistakes.

"Rondo and I had a hell of a relationship," Rivers said Friday. "It was up and down, but for the most part it was really good."

Rivers helped make Rondo a four-time All-Star after the point guard was selected late in the first round of the 2006 draft. The coach said he doesn't deserve much credit for Rondo's becoming an elite NBA player.

"Rondo had greatness in him long before I met him. You could see it," Rivers said. "There are certain guys that it just spills out and you have to get them there, you have to help them get there. I was his coach for the first part of his career and we had to get him to see what we saw. Sometimes they don't see it, but he's just smart."

Rondo missed both meetings between Boston and the Clippers last season while recovering from knee surgery. The Celtics traded him to the Mavericks last month, transforming them into an immediate contender in the Western Conference.

Dallas (26-11) has won seven of 10 games since Rondo's arrival to move into fourth place in the West standings, 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Clippers (24-12).

"It's a scary thought to add Rondo, one of the best passers and facilitators in the game to a team with that many weapons," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said of a team that also includes Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons.

Rivers said the good old days rarely come up when he talks to his former Celtics players.

"We don't talk about 2008; we talk about '09 and '10," Rivers said, referring to seasons in which Boston failed to win the NBA title. "I think when you win, you get hungrier, you get thirstier. We had the best record in the NBA in 2009 and then Kevin went down [with an injury] and they actually talk about that year even more than '10 because they thought we were better in '09, but it is what it is.

"It's funny how your mind works; you should only talk about '08 but no one does that."

Something in reserve

Clippers point guard Chris Paul may not be selected an All-Star starter for the first time since 2008.

He is fourth among West backcourt players in the latest fan ballot with 401,945 votes, trailing Golden State's Stephen Curry (958,014), the Lakers' Kobe Bryant (862,568) and Houston's James Harden (690,843). The top two backcourt players and top three frontcourt players in voting will start for each conference.

Is it fair that a player in his prime such as Paul, 29, could be left out of the starting lineup in favor of an aging Bryant, 36, who has had to sit out games to rest as he nears the end of his career?

"I think we all know where he should be," Griffin said of Paul, the most valuable player of the 2013 All-Star game, "but sometimes it doesn't work out like that and it's unfortunate. But we'll have to see how it plays out."

Paul is considered a lock to be selected as a reserve by coaches for the All-Star game Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York. He did not speak with reporters before practice Friday.

Griffin was second in the latest frontcourt figures with 490,786 votes, behind New Orleans' Anthony Davis (922,381).

CLIPPERS VS. DALLAS

When: 12:30 p.m. PST Saturday

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 980, 1330.

Records: Mavericks 26-11; Clippers 24-12.

Record vs. Mavericks (2013-14): 3-1.

Update: Forward Blake Griffin said he hoped the Clippers could repeatedly duplicate the way they played Wednesday during a 25-point rout of the Lakers in which their passing, spacing and defensive intensity was as good as it has been all season. "It's a mind-set coming out of the gate ready to defend, ready to move the ball, ready to play with that pace," Griffin said. "The big thing is even when we score or they score, still get the ball up quick and get up the floor playing with a good pace."

Twitter: @latbbolch

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