New-look Clippers aim to mesh quickly, make playoffs
In Danilo Gallinari’s eyes, the next step for the Clippers in the wake of Blake Griffin’s trade is a simple one.
“Win,” Gallinari said. “The goal before was winning and the goal right now is the same. We want to keep winning, but with different guys.”
Those different guys are Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic, the players who came from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Griffin, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson.
The Clippers have spent the last three days trying to integrate Bradley, Harris and Marjanovic into their system.
But with 32 regular-season games left, there is precious little time for the trio’s successful transition. The Clippers (24-24) currently are ninth in the Western Conference standings, one spot out of the playoffs behind No. 8 Denver (27-25) and only four games behind No. 5 Oklahoma City (30-22).
“What we told them yesterday is that we can’t ease in to this,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We can’t expect to wait five or six games at this point in the season to mesh, and that’s what it usually takes or more than that. But you do that and you’re out of the playoffs.
“So I told them, ‘Here’s the good news. We’re together. The bad news is we can’t wait to get good. We have to come out of the games expecting to win.’ I said, ‘We’ll figure it out on the floor.’ I said, ‘But we have to play to win every game right now.’ ”
They will start that process Saturday afternoon in a game against the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center.
Then the Clippers will play Dallas at home Monday night before starting a four-game trip Friday against Griffin and Detroit.
Again, Gallinari said it’s a simple thing for the Clippers and their new teammates.
“Win a lot of games,” Gallinari said. “That’s what we need to do. With the guys, we had a chance to practice already today and it was great to spend some time together and practice again and get ready for the game.”
The practices have been pretty seamless for Bradley, Harris and Marjanovic.
Now it’s seeing how it translates on the court.
“They’ll mesh pretty easily,” Rivers said. “It’ll take time just playing with each other. But just watching Avery just defensively on the floor alone was really nice to see. Tobias and Gallinari had a good chemistry going. So I think it’s going to work really well.”
Rookie Tyrone Wallace, who is on a two-way contract with the Clippers, was named Friday to the Midseason All-NBA G League team in the Western Conference. Wallace averaged 22.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 23 games for the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario. He has averaged 12.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 13 games for the Clippers.
When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570, 1330.
Update: The Bulls are ranked next to last (29th) in the NBA in field-goal percentage (43.9%) and tied for 25th in points allowed per game (109.3).
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