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Clippers aim to improve defense and rebounding

Defense. Rebounding.

Rebounding. Defense.

No matter what order is chosen, both have been issues for the Clippers during this young season.

Now the question becomes: Can the Clippers solve what ails them?

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They have been so deficient in the rebound and defense departments in the first three-regular season games — and in the two exhibition games as well — that is has become a constant subject.

Let’s start with the defense, something the Clippers harped on during Saturday’s practice.

“We’re trying to put an emphasis of being on a string, particularly on the weak side” Caron Butler said. “It’s just guys shrinking the floor, playing alongside each other. We’re just picking up each other’s tendencies on defense.”

Entering Saturday’s games, the Clippers had allowed 105 points per game, most in the NBA.

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They had allowed teams to shoot 48.3% against them, fourth worst in the league.

It may be just three games into the season and they may be players still figuring one another out after being brought together, but it’s a problem the Clippers maintain they can fix.

“Ah, we will get better,” Butler said. “We put this team together 2½, three weeks ago and we’re all learning each other on the fly. We don’t have a problem putting up points. But on the defensive end of things, we’ve got to continue to stay on a string.”

The Clippers will face a Portland Trail Blazers team Sunday night at Staples Center that averages 106.3 points a game, second most in the NBA.

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And, Portland averages 48 rebounds per game, fourth best in the league.

The Clippers, on the other hand, are averaging just 34.6 rebounds per game before Saturday’s games, fourth worst.

“Gang rebounding, that’s important that we do that,” Butler said. “It starts with defense. It’s like defense’s cousin. If you play good defense, block out and rebound, then good things will happen.”

The Clippers have been outrebounded in every game they have played this season and people want to know why.

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“I don’t know,” center DeAndre Jordan said. “It’s not a lack of effort. I’m hearing you guys [in the media] say that, and it’s false.”

Jordan is averaging just 6 rebounds per game but he is averaging 4.7 blocks and 8.7 points.

Billups hopes to play

Chauncey Billups took some shots after practice Saturday, a test to see how his sore right groin felt.

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Billups didn’t play in Friday night’s game because of the injury, but he said he hopes to play Sunday against Portland.

Billups said he was injured during Thursday’s practice.

“I’m going to come in [Sunday] and see how it feels,” Billups said. “I want to play, but we’ll just have to see how things go.”

If Billups, 35 and entering his 15th season, doesn’t play Sunday, he’ll get two more days to rest the groin because the Clippers don’t play again until Wednesday.

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broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner


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