Clippers get some rare practice time

It had been a month since the Clippers conducted a full-fledged practice — the last one was on Feb. 27.

Even the practice session they had Tuesday wasn’t all-out, but it still gave the Clippers a chance to watch some videos, run a few drills and get in some shooting.

The condensed NBA schedule is the reason the Clippers have had so few practices.

This week brings three home games in four days, starting Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center.

“There were some things we talked about today,” Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said Tuesday. “But we didn’t drill them as much as we would like just because I think the guys need to get their energy back, and obviously we’ve got three games in four nights.”

For shooting guard Nick Young, it was his first practice with the Clippers since he was acquired from the Washington Wizards on Feb. 16. “Today wasn’t like a real practice,” Young said. “But we went over a lot of plays, trying to get used to the names and the play-calling.”

Suns’ zone defense

When Phoenix defeated the Clippers at Staples Center on March 15, the loss stung L.A. even more because Suns Coach Alvin Gentry gave veterans Steve Nash and Grant Hill the night off.

More telling was that the Clippers looked so disjointed when the Suns went to a zone defense in the fourth quarter. The Clippers shot just 21% (three for 14) from the field in the fourth, 17% (one for six) from three-point range.

“Yeah, I think it slowed us down a little bit,” Del Negro said. “We didn’t execute very well. I think we missed some shots and they got a nice run off of it. But we have to handle that better, there’s no doubt about that.”

Looking ahead

Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the team’s vice president of basketball operations, Neil Olshey, offered support for their embattled coach in a Times story Tuesday.

Del Negro, who came under heat after a three-game losing streak last week, said he appreciated the support and that he wants to be the coach of the Clippers going forward.

“Obviously the speculation . . . is bothersome just because I have a family and no one wants to lose their job,” Del Negro said. “I have a great job and I also know how hard my staff works and how hard we work.

“Have we had our bumps in the road? Of course. But it’s nice to get everybody pulling in the same direction. And then hopefully we’ll get some good results and the fans and Mr. Sterling and the organization are proud of what we do this year.”

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