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Practice becomes serious business for Clippers

Practice becomes serious business for Clippers
Coach Doc Rivers is stepping up the practice workload for the Clippers in advance of their season opener at Portland. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

In years past, the Clippers were not known as a team that practiced much under Coach Doc Rivers.

But this is a different season and the stakes are higher for the Clippers —  more so than any of the other three previous seasons — so they are practicing more  in preparation for the season opener Thursday night at Portland.

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The Clippers have the extra time for these practice sessions because they only played six exhibition games.

They played their last exhibition game Tuesday night at Sacramento.

The Clippers took Wednesday off, but they practiced Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  The plan is to practice again Sunday (with no media access), take Monday off, then go back at it Tuesday and Wednesday before flying to Portland.

"Nothing like practice, especially for a team like us where when the season gets going, we don't get a chance to practice as much," Chris Paul said. "This is definitely a good time for us to compete, to sharpen things up and really start to introduce a lot of our offense."

Don't think the Clippers are showing up at their facility and just having the exercise of another practice.

They are watching film before practices begin. The second unit is going through five-man sessions to get caught up on the offense. There are referees for the instrasquad scrimmages.

The Clippers are taking these practice sessions seriously.

"We're going hard. We're scrimmaging. We're running. We're playing. We've gotten a lot in," Rivers said. "We've gotten basically everything in. So we're going hard."

Even injured forward Luc Mbah a Moute was committed to practicing Saturday after missing the last two because of a bruised right knee.

He had injured his knee during the game against the Kings when he bumped knees with another player. He said his knee "kind of swelled up a little bit" afterward. He wore a black brace on the knee while shooting before Saturday's practice.

"I'm practicing today," Mbah a Moute said. "I haven't practiced the last two days. Yesterday I did some non-contact stuff. Today I'm going to practice and see how it goes."

He said he would play against the Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

Only forward Paul Pierce, who suffered a sprained right ankle during pregame against the Kings, hasn't been able to practice. In fact, Rivers said Pierce is "not going to practice this week" and he will miss the opener against Portland.

Otherwise, Rivers said, "everybody is good."

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Presumably, that will make for more good Clippers practices.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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