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Clippers have week of tough games ahead

With a 4-2 record so far this season, the Clippers repeatedly say it will take time for the team to jell as new additions Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler get acclimated.

But they would be well-served to come together quickly this week.

The Clippers face the tall task of playing the Trail Blazers in Portland on Tuesday, then a home game the next day against the Miami Heat and then host the Lakers at Staples Center on Saturday.

“Nothing easy, but the schedule is there and we’ve got to be ready for it,” Coach Vinny Del Negro said after the team practiced Monday in Playa Vista.

He also cautioned against expecting the Clippers to suddenly become a well-oiled machine simply because they’re facing tough teams in three consecutive games.

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“We still have a lot of growing to do, like I talk about all the time,” he said. “There are no shortcuts.”

The Clippers defeated Portland at Staples Center, 93-88, on New Year’s Day but only after the Clippers nearly let the game get away. They also struggled against the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Saturday but managed a 92-86 victory.

“We’re going to have to play better than we did last game, that’s for sure,” Del Negro said.

How?

“Doing the little things,” he said. “It’s not always about all the spectacular plays. It’s rotations defensively, it’s [getting] loose balls, it’s making free throws.”

The Clippers also need to rebound better. “When the ball goes up we’ve got to get a body on somebody,” Del Negro said. “Everyone has to do a better job.”

Jones settles in

One of those bodies will be Solomon Jones, a free-agent power forward/center the Clippers signed last week to bolster their defense off the bench.

The 6-foot-10 Jones, 27, played three seasons for the Atlanta Hawks and then two with the Indiana Pacers.

His mandate?

“Defense, block shots, run the ball, run the floor hard,” Jones said, adding that he was thrilled to join a team “where I best fit, to get in the right situation.”

Short-term view

Del Negro, Billups and other Clippers said they were too focused on Portland to give much thought to playing the Heat and Lakers later this week.

“You can’t lose sight of the next day in this league,” Billups said, adding that the Trail Blazers are “a really, really good home team so it will be a big challenge for us.”

Added Del Negro: “You put so much preparation into Portland, and then you worry about the next game after that.”

james.peltz@latimes.com


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