Clippers’ hectic schedule means practice falls by the wayside

Clippers guard J.J. Redick tries to take a charge against Pelicans' guard Tyreke Evans earlier this month. Redick took three charges against the Bucks on Saturday.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Lots of games. Barely any practices.

That’s the reality facing the Clippers, who are 16 days into a 26-day stretch in which they will play 15 games without consecutive days off.

So far, they have practiced all of one time since this portion of their schedule began Dec. 6.

Things have become so hectic that the Clippers used white tape to form an imaginary free-throw line on the carpet in the middle of their locker room to stage a walk-through Saturday at Staples Center before playing the Milwaukee Bucks.


“It’s difficult to stay sharp and not only [not] practice, we haven’t really been able to do a whole lot in shoot-around and we’ve had a lot of walk-throughs in the hotel or just meeting here like we did [Saturday],” said shooting guard J.J. Redick, who persevered just fine with 23 points during the Clippers’ 106-102 victory.

“So the schedule, yeah, it actually affects you because there’s slippage on both ends. Your execution isn’t as sharp. It happens.”

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers cited the lack of practice time in his team’s repeated slow starts, though he has opted to continually give players days off between games during busy portions of the schedule. They did not practice Sunday before flying to San Antonio to start a two-game trip Monday against the Spurs.

Rivers said he decides whether to hold practices based on visible fatigue and internal team statistics but conceded it’s often a guessing game. The coach is also considering holding players out of a game or two to provide rest.

Of course, no practice doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no work. Veteran players often trickle into the practice facility to shoot, and younger ones such as rookie C.J. Wilcox and second-year forward Reggie Bullock routinely show up to scrimmage each other.

Forward Blake Griffin said the continuity of a starting lineup that has remained largely intact the last few years has helped the team endure the lack of practice.

“We’ve been doing it for a while, so I think we can be better no matter if there are practices are not,” Griffin said. “But it does help tremendously to have a practice.”

It’s conceivable the Clippers may not have one before Jan. 2, the second day of a two-day break before facing the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center.

“I just keep telling our guys, ‘Hey, what do you want me to do?’” Rivers said. “I can’t change the schedule, so we have to play the games.”

Practicing is another matter entirely.

Happily bowled over

Redick, who isn’t exactly known for defense, took three charges against the Bucks. He said he thought it was the first time he had done that in his nine-year NBA career.

Then, again, maybe there should be an asterisk attached.

“I would really say that maybe the first one wasn’t a charge,” Redick said, “but the other two I thought were. I think I’ve taken two before but never three.”


When: 5:30 p.m. PST, Monday.

Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio.

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 980 .

Records: Clippers 19-8, Spurs 17-11.

Record vs. Spurs: 0-1.

Update: San Antonio has lost four consecutive games for the first time since late in the 2010-11 season, in part because of injuries to top players. Point guard Tony Parker is expected to sit out a sixth consecutive game Monday because of a sore hamstring and forward Kawhi Leonard will sit out a fourth consecutive game because of a torn hand ligament. Two of the Spurs’ recent losses came in consecutive triple-overtime games, prompting Coach Gregg Popovich to rest Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili on Saturday against Dallas. San Antonio rallied for an 89-85 victory over the Clippers on Nov. 10 after trailing by five points with less than three minutes to play.

Twitter: @latbbolch