The Clippers finished their exhibition season Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers. They went 2-6 in preseason play.
Their season opener is Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. But before they play the Thunder, starting a stretch of four games in five nights, let’s take a look at what happened in Clipperville last week.
Steve Ballmer attended his first home game. The new Clippers’ owner sat baseline near his team’s bench and cheered his head off. He was so loud that reporters sitting about 20 rows up, near midcourt, reported that they could hear him clapping and screaming.
One of the best point guards in the NBA praised one of the former greats. Upon hearing that the Lakers’ 40-year-old point guard Steve Nash is out for the season because of a back injury, Chris Paul took a moment to say what Nash meant to him.
“When I came into the NBA, he was the guy I was coming after,” Paul said. “He was the guy -- I remember the night before I played him the first time, I couldn’t sleep because I wanted to play against him so bad.”
Clippers’ Coach Doc Rivers revealed how Hedo Turkoglu ended up on the team this season -- Rivers gave Turkoglu an ultimatum. “I told him at the end of the year, he’s back if he’s in shape,” Rivers said. The 35-year-old, 14-year NBA veteran has made an impact on and off the court for the Clippers so far this year.
Rivers argued that the preseason should be cut in half. Instead of playing eight games, Rivers thinks the teams should only play four. If the teams could stretch the regular season over another week, he argued, the fans would see better basketball because the players would be less exhausted.
“We have some of these TV games where guys have played five games in eight nights, and they’re on the road, and the game looks terrible because they’re tired, Rivers said.
Clippers star power forward Blake Griffin is being investigated by Las Vegas police for allegedly assaulting a man in a nightclub. A spokesman for the Police Department said the man claimed in his report that he and Griffin had an altercation involving a camera at Tao nightclub in the Venetian resort.
“I trust Blake 100%,” Rivers said. “He’s a great kid. We’ll figure it out and get through it.”
A survey of NBA general manager’s survey was released, and the Clippers came in tied with the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder as the third most likely team to win the NBA championship this season. The Clippers received 11.5% of the votes for third place, trailing only San Antonio (46.2%) and Cleveland (15.4%).
The Clippers’ rebounding woes continued. Despite having DeAndre Jordan, who was the top rebounder in the league last season, the Clippers are still a subpar rebounding team. They were outrebounded in each of their preseason games. Rivers said the team will focus on rebounding during practices this week. “Bill Russell isn’t going to walk through the door,” he said.
Small forward Matt Barnes is in a shooting slump. He entered Friday’s game against Portland shooting three for 36 this preseason. Against the Trail Blazers, he was three for eight from the field, including missing both of his two three-point attempts.
When asked how he would deal with Barnes, Rivers said, “Some guys come in your office and you have a talk with them, and some guys it’s like a pitcher that’s having a no-hitter. You stay away from them. With Matt, it’s probably somewhere in the middle of those two.”