Clippers want the best of both worlds

Clippers want the best of both worlds
Clippers point guard Chris Paul, left, defends against Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook during Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals in May. (Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

It's not enough for the Clippers to routinely outscore teams while playing at a high pace offensively.

They also want to pull off the rare double of being one of the NBA's most efficient defensive teams.


"It's an unbelievable combination if you can do both," point guard Chris Paul said Saturday, "and we're going to try to be that team."

You need to look no further than the defending champion San Antonio Spurs to find a template for what the Clippers are trying to achieve. The Spurs ranked seventh in the league last season in offensive efficiency, scoring 110.5 points per 100 possessions. They were third in defensive efficiency, allowing 102.4 points per 100 possessions.

That dual effectiveness led San Antonio to a 62-20 record and a five-game victory over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

The Clippers seem to have the offensive part of the equation mastered, scoring an NBA-best 112.1 points per 100 possessions last season. They weren't as good defensively, giving up 104.8 points per 100 possessions to rank ninth in the league.

Most teams excel on one side of the ball but few are adept on both. There's an easy explanation.

"It's no possessions off," Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said. "It's constant motion to be locked in on both sides of the ball."

Coach Doc Rivers said a team's offensive prowess can actually hinder its defensive tenacity.

"When you're a high-scoring offensive team," Rivers said, "you always fall back on, 'Well, we'll get a basket instead of getting a stop' and I've always thought you can do both pretty good. Even our Boston teams, we didn't score a lot ,but if you looked at our offensive efficiency numbers, we were in the top five. So it's proven you can do both."

Take two

The Clippers' defense was certainly lacking in their exhibition opener, a 112-94 defeat to Golden State.

Rivers said he was seeking a better effort Sunday evening at the Moda Center against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The coach said he was not sure who would start at small forward as he continues to refine a rotation that includes Matt Barnes, Reggie Bullock, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Joe Ingles.

Getting technical

Forward Blake Griffin, who was suspended one game by the league last season for receiving 16 technical fouls, was in midseason form in the exhibition opener, receiving a technical for arguing a non-call midway through the second quarter.


Rivers immediately picked up his own technical after letting officials know he thought Griffin's was unwarranted.

"I got a tech on that because I just thought that was way too quick," Rivers said. "I didn't think Blake did enough to get a tech. Like, what the hell was that? I don't think I've had a tech in the preseason in my career, so there's a first for everything."