It was just the preseason, and that qualifies as one of the highlights of the Clippers' 112-94 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night at Staples Center in their exhibition opener. Here are five take-aways from the game:
1. Blake Griffin's outside shooting appears vastly improved. Griffin was far more deadly from 15 feet and out than he was in the paint; six of his nine baskets came on jumpers and he made his only three-pointer, a shot from the corner. If he can consistently make those kinds of shots he will be virtually unguardable. "I can't live and die by that," Griffin, who made nine of 17 shots overall, said of his jump-shooting. "I'm still going to keep working and continue to mix it up and try to stay confident."
2. Conditioning is an issue. A big one. Coach Doc Rivers' opening remarks after the game were about how the Warriors were in better shape than his team. He attributed much of the Clippers' sloppy play and 37 fouls — which led to 47 free-throw attempts for the Warriors — to fatigue and said he was not above making his team line up and run sprints in practice. "I do it when it's necessary and I think it is necessary," Rivers said. "I think that's how poorly conditioned we were. We're just going to have to work extremely hard over the next two weeks, which means we're probably going to play even worse in preseason games because we'll be exhausted. I think everybody came in in great shape, but not in NBA-conditioned shape."
3. The new lights inside Staples Center received mixed reviews. Rivers said the LED lights that accentuate the court and place less emphasis on the crowd are the first of their kind in the NBA. He also said they save "a ton of energy, so [new owner Steve] Ballmer's already saving money." Shooting guard J.J. Redick didn't seem as impressed. "I thought they were doing something for the dancers, to set the mood for a special dance or something," Redick said, "and then 30 minutes later I was like, 'Oh, the lights are still the same? Why are the lights like this?' And then somebody said, 'Oh, that's how it's going to be this year.' "; Will the new lights require an adjustment period? "Just certain areas that you're used to seeing light, you're seeing darkness," Redick said. "It's the darkness, not necessarily the glare. I mean, the lighting is weird. You feel like you're on stage."
4. Chris Douglas-Roberts' energy could be a difference-maker. The small forward didn't put up impressive stats — he missed all three of his shots and had two points, two assists and one rebound in 17 minutes — but he just seems to make things happen. He threw an alley-oop pass to Griffin for a dunk and badgered Golden State's Klay Thompson into a turnover. If he can develop into a lock-down defender, it will significantly bolster his chances to play significant minutes. "That's why we signed him," Rivers said of Douglas-Roberts' ability to make an impact. "He's athletic, he's wiry, he's always in the right place. He just has a great sense."