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Clippers face Warriors again, but it won't be the same

Clippers face Warriors again, but it won't be the same
Clippers point guard Chris Paul, left, steals the ball away from Golden State's Andre Iguodala during Game 7 of the Western Conference quarterfinals last season. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The rivalry that has produced a hallway confrontation, technical fouls galore and more verbal exchanges than a prison yard will probably not generate another dramatic chapter Tuesday.

It will only be the preseason when the Clippers and Golden State Warriors play their exhibition opener at Staples Center.

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"I don't think it will be quite the same atmosphere," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said Monday.

Then again, you never know.

The last time these teams met, the combativeness spilled off the court. Players from both teams engaged in a heated confrontation between the locker rooms after the Clippers defeated the Warriors in Game 7 of a first-round playoff series.

"I heard it was just kind of a misunderstanding," Griffin said, "so I don't think it was even really a big deal."

The Clippers hope the story lines Tuesday are confined to the starters rounding into form; newcomers Spencer Hawes and Jordan Farmar integrating themselves into the rotation; and a spirited battle for the final roster spot between Joe Ingles and Jared Cunningham.

After a week of intrasquad practices and scrimmages, the Clippers are ready for a new opponent, even if it is the dreaded Warriors.

"It's one thing to practice against each other every day," guard Chris Paul said, "but it's cool to play against somebody else."

New lineup addition?

Coach Doc Rivers has devised a plan to introduce new owner Steve Ballmer before games.

"We're going to do the starting five and then say 'and at owner' so he can run out and give high-fives," Rivers joked.

Ballmer isn't expected to attend the preseason opener, but players have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the energetic billionaire at games based on his lively introduction to fans at a welcome rally in August.

"I'm sure he's going to be visible and lively, which is great," Griffin said. "You love for an owner to have the same interest that the fans have and the same interest that we have, so we would welcome him bringing that same kind of energy to games."

Money matters

The NBA's new nine-year, $24-billion television rights contract could lead players to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement in 2017 and begin a fractious round of negotiations with owners over increased salaries.

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But first things first: some celebrating was in order.

"Amazing news," said Paul, who is president of the players' union. "It really shows that our game is a global game and it's great for us players, it's great for the fans, it's great for the entire NBA."

Dodger boo

The Dodgers always welcome Paul at Dodger Stadium.

Their fans? Not so much.

Paul was booed again Saturday when he attended Game 2 of the National League division series. Not even appearing alongside minority owner Magic Johnson on the video board could save Paul from fans voicing their displeasure.

Paul didn't seem to take it personally.

"That doesn't mean I'm going to stop cheering" for the Dodgers, he said.

Paul's experience wasn't entirely bad. Close friend Matt Kemp's eighth-inning homer gave the Dodgers a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"To see him hit the home run," Paul said, "I actually got chills because that was a big play and a huge win for the Dodgers."

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