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Extra practice is paying off for Clippers during preseason

Extra practice is paying off for Clippers during preseason
Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) and forward Blake Griffin look up during the first half of a preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 13. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Clippers believe each practice during training camp has provided opportunities for growth.

They have used those opportunities to fine-tune what had already been a potent offense during the 2015-16 season, implementing new wrinkles Coach Doc Rivers has installed.

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They practiced three consecutive days after their Oct. 5 preseason game against Toronto, then practiced one day between exhibitions against Utah and Portland last Monday and Thursday at Staples Center.

Chris Paul sees the benefits of the extra sessions.

"Our game against Portland, the things that we worked on a couple of days in practice before, you could see it," Paul said before the Clippers practiced Saturday. "It's a few screens that we were missing. I think we cleaned it up a little bit. We've got to get sharper, but that's what practice is for."

The extra practices have also allowed the Clippers to develop a bond with four new players — Raymond Felton, Marreese Speights, Alan Anderson and Brandon Bass.

They will practice again Sunday before playing at Utah on Monday and finishing their exhibition schedule at Sacramento on Tuesday night.

Then the Clippers will have eight days to practice — if Rivers chooses to use all of them —  before opening the regular season at Portland on Oct. 27.

By cutting the number of exhibition games from eight to six for the second consecutive year, Rivers has been able to teach more because of the extra practices.

"I just think eight [games] is too many," he said. "Obviously we looked at it and felt we could have more practice time. It's really two more days, but I've always felt eight preseason games are too many. Maybe it's not, but I think it is. I know it is."

Speights providing instant offense

Speights loves to shoot, and that's fine with Rivers.

Speights loves to score, and that is not an issue with Rivers.

After all, when the Clippers signed Speights to a free-agent contract over the summer, they knew offense was what he did best.

Speights didn't develop his nickname "Mo Buckets"  for being shy.

So to see the nine-year veteran average 12.5 points in 16.8 minutes per game in the exhibition season is not a surprise.

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Speights, a 6-foot-10 center/forward, is making 41.7% of his shots, 30% of his three-point attempts and 93.3% of his free throws.

"We know he loves offense. We want him to love offense," Rivers said. "That's the thing. I think he's felt some freedom there, because we really encourage him to be Mo."

Injury update

Austin Rivers, who didn't play Thursday night because of a groin injury, was back at practice Saturday.

Forward Alan Anderson didn't practice for what the team called precautionary reasons related to  his ankle. Anderson, who has now missed two practices, had two surgeries on his left ankle last season while playing for the Washington Wizards.

Rivers said the Clippers will have to monitor Anderson's foot "through midyear."

"We just have to let it heal and get it right," Rivers said.

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner

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