Clippers' Darren Collison likes to get defensive

Which is the priority for the Clippers' Darren Collison, offensive production or defensive intensity?

It's no contest, really.

"I think the biggest thing is, I want to rely on my defense," the backup point guard said Monday before the Clippers played the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center. "I really want to take on the challenge of being one of the best defenders on this team."

Unfortunately for Collison, he hadn't been much of a factor on either end of the court for much of the season's first two weeks before a minor breakthrough against the Houston Rockets on Sunday in which he scored 10 points and flustered James Harden and Patrick Beverley into subpar shooting efforts.

Even so, Collison began Monday's game averaging 5.1 points and 1.9 assists in 14.4 minutes per game, far removed from his preseason averages of 16.4 points and 5.4 assists in 28 minutes.

Coach Doc Rivers said Collison's offensive misfortunes had produced a carryover effect on defense.

"Where D.C. has struggled is in the first couple of games, his offense was struggling and it took away his defensive energy because he was thinking about his offense," Rivers said. "We're trying to get him to understand that if you keep doing that, your offense will come and it did the other night" against Houston.

A handful of other factors also seemed to be contributing to Collison's drop-off. He suffered a bruised left kneecap late in the preseason and acknowledged he has had difficulty adjusting to life as a reserve after primarily being a starter for each of the last three seasons.

"It's extremely hard, not for guys that start off coming off the bench but for guys like myself that have started pretty much their whole NBA career and then to come off the bench behind an All-Star player like Chris Paul," said Collison, who had four points and no assists against the Timberwolves. "It's hard to find that rhythm. But once I get adjusted to it, I'll be fine."

If Collison seemed to be dragging a bit lately it might be in part because his wife gave birth to a boy Oct. 28. Is the new father getting enough sleep these days?

"I'm trying," he said with a chuckle.

Slow start for J.J. Redick

J.J. Redick didn't do much for the Clippers in the first quarter against Minnesota and it qualified as news.

The shooting guard had averaged 9.1 points in opening quarters before Monday, the third-highest average in the NBA. He scored two points against the Timberwolves, making one of two shots, before going to the bench with two fouls midway through the first quarter.

Minnesota's Kevin Love and Kevin Martin, the only players ahead of Redick in first-quarter production, finished the quarter with seven points apiece.

Twitter: @latbbolch

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