The Clippers’ reserve unit remains a work in progress.
But despite the bench’s uneven play in the first three games, Coach Doc Rivers says he’ll be patient.
“We just need time together on the court,” said forward Matt Barnes, one of the Clippers’ primary reserves. “It’s always hard to simulate a game situation when it’s anything but a game. I think Doc will do a good job of kind of stealing minutes or a little extra time for all us bench guys to be together to try to get our chemistry down. Down the road, we all know how important it is to have a solid bench.”
Barnes, sixth man Jamal Crawford and center Ryan Hollins were with the team last season and have an idea of how to play with each other. But they’re still learning how to play with newcomers like Darren Collison and Byron Mullens. Rivers has even played those five together at times.
It hasn’t helped that Barnes missed the first seven exhibition games because of a sore left calf.
“It’s tough right now because everyone has been in and out with injuries,” Barnes said. “Everyone is finally healthy, but the season has started so we haven’t had too much time to work together.”
Rivers has concerns
Rivers said his assistant coaches have crunched some numbers, and when they combined second-shot opportunities allowed with Clippers turnovers, the team is giving up “46 points” a game.
Rivers, whose team averages 16.7 turnovers per game, is concerned about how that affects the Clippers’ defense.
“If you’re giving up 46 points a game on second shots and turnovers, you can be the ’85 Bears and you’re still going to struggle defensively,” said Rivers, referring to the legendary defense of the 1985 Chicago Bears’ Super Bowl champions. “We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball.”