After long trip, Clippers know first game at home will be challenging

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The Clippers returned home for the first time since Jan. 16, fresh off a successful seven-game, 11-day trip that took them to some of the coldest parts of the country.

They met the challenge of playing hard in the final game in Milwaukee on Monday, and the win gave them a 5-2 record on the trip.

But the Clippers now face the task of finding enough energy to play the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

“The toughest game is always the first one when you come off a long road trip,” guard Jamal Crawford said Monday night. “It’ll be a challenge for us.


“You have to get used to seeing your family again. You have to get used to the West Coast time change. And just being home, it throws your rhythm off a little bit. But for us, we’re not going to make any excuses. We’re going to continue to try to keep this train moving.”

The Clippers will play three more games this week. They face the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night in Oakland, then play host to the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on Saturday night.

The Clippers didn’t practice Tuesday, taking some much-needed time off to recharge.

“We look at this as a nine-game trip,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “We go home for 24 hours, play a game and then we fly right back on the road, and we have four [games] in five [nights]. So this is clearly a very difficult trip, tough teams. Mentally, these are going to be tough games for us.”


Turkoglu making strides

When the Clippers signed veteran free-agent forward Hedo Turkoglu just before they left for their seven-game trip, they really didn’t know what to expect.

But Turkoglu, 34, has made some progress along the way. He’s displayed the ball-handling skills he had been known for, hit some outside shots and improved his conditioning.

He played his best game with the Clippers in Milwaukee, scoring six points and adding seven rebounds and three assists in 19 minutes.

In his seven games with the Clippers, Turkoglu has averaged 2.7 points on 38.9% shooting, 3.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 12.3 minutes per game.

Turkoglu didn’t play in any games with the Orlando Magic this season before he was waived on Jan. 3.

Last season, Turkoglu played in just 11 games with the Magic because of injuries and a 20-game suspension for testing positive for steroids.

“He’s getting it,” Rivers said. “His rhythm is coming. The thing he can do is he can handle the ball. That’s been important. Blake [Griffin] is helping DC [Darren Collison] handle the ball with the first unit and Turk is helping Jamal and those guys handle the ball with the second unit.”


Twitter: @BA_Turner

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