Clippers owner Steve Ballmer asks fans to come early, cheer often
There’s something Steve Ballmer wants from Clippers fans: more energy early in games.
The new team owner delivered his request at an event for season ticket-holders Thursday night at Universal Studios after hearing from players that the decibel level inside Staples Center was too low in the opening minutes.
“They said the first quarter can be a little lonely,” Ballmer said.
While acknowledging that he wasn’t an expert in Los Angeles traffic, Ballmer asked fans to arrive for tip-off.
“I will just tell you, 10 minutes earlier in your seat and Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are really going to love you,” Ballmer said.
Ballmer said he planned to hire someone to run the business side of the team and would be a regular at games starting with the season opener Oct. 30 against Oklahoma City.
“I don’t expect to be a meddler, but you can expect to see me lots of nights unless my son’s got a game that night,” said Ballmer, whose son plays high school basketball. “I’ve already told everybody, when he plays in Seattle, I’m up there, not down here.”
Ballmer said he expected “lots of wins” from a team that compiled a franchise-record 57 last season.
“We want to play in April, in May, in June,” Ballmer said. “You’ve got to make sure everybody’s pushing and pushing to get better and improve every day, and if we do that with the talent we have in place, with a little bit of good luck, we’re going to be the last guys playing.”
Play it forward
On a team with all five starters and six of the top seven scorers back, there remains one great unknown: What will the Clippers’ small forward rotation look like?
Starter Matt Barnes returns, but Coach Doc Rivers said he was open to bringing Barnes off the bench if it meant getting more production out of Reggie Bullock, Chris Douglas-Roberts or Joe Ingles.
“Maybe Matt’s better on the second unit and that may help one of the guys play better with the first unit,” Rivers said. “Matt can play with either group; that’s the one thing we do know.”
Rivers has tried different combinations in the early part of preseason. Barnes started the exhibition opener Tuesday against Golden State and Bullock was the first small forward off the bench, but Douglas-Roberts started the second half and Bullock played with the starters during a brief scrimmage Wednesday.
Douglas-Roberts showed bursts of energy and defensive tenacity against the Warriors, badgering Klay Thompson into a turnover. If he can develop into a lockdown defender, it will significantly enhance his chance to play significant minutes.
“That’s why we signed him,” Rivers said of Douglas-Roberts’ ability to make an impact. “He’s athletic, he’s wiry, he’s always in the right place. He just has a great sense.”
Bullock is coming off an injury-plagued rookie season in which he missed 15 games with a sprained left ankle. He also recently disclosed he had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right knee over the summer but said he wasfully healthy.
Ingles, a training camp invitee who has played exclusively overseas, is vying for the final roster spot. He played two minutes and did not score in the first exhibition game.
Broadcaster Ralph Lawler said former Clippers forward Corey Maggette would be part of game telecasts on Fox Sports. … The Clippers did not practice Thursday.
Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.
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