Clip­pers spend week re­group­ing

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - Brian Golden Val­ley Press Staff Writer [email protected]­PRESS.COM

With Paul Ge­orge’s lat­est civic phi­lan­thropy at Domenic Mas­sari Park on Dec. 29, Mayor Steve Hof­bauer pro­claimed Palm­dale the cap­i­tal of Clip­pers Na­tion.

That makes the City of Cham­pi­ons one of the few not ob­sessed by the events in Iraq and Iran this week.

The Clip­pers had their own DEF-CON 1 sit­u­a­tion to deal with.

It’s the first au­then­tic cri­sis of the sea­son for the Not-YourFather’s-Clip­pers.

The Clip­pers, who were 12-1 on Sta­ples Cen­ter hard­wood at one point this sea­son, went just 3-2 in their last five games.

It was how they lost that was the most trou­bling.

A team that was among the top three in the NBA for the fewest points al­lowed per game was sud­denly giv­ing up more than 118 ev­ery night.

The big­gest red flag was the 140 points the Clip­pers hem­or­rhaged in a mati­nee loss to the Mem­phis Griz­zlies last Satur­day.

They ended up post­ing the worst home­court loss of the sea­son, by 26 points.

A day later, a team that

rou­tinely lim­ited op­po­nents to un­der 50 points in a half belched 45 by the New York Knicker­bock­ers in the first quar­ter alone.

At 26-12, the Clip­pers have slipped to fourth in the Western Con­fer­ence, passed by the Den­ver Nuggets and Hous­ton Rock­ets.

They’re 4½ games be­hind the Lak­ers that they’re 2-0 against this sea­son.

“There’s been some slip­page,” Clip­pers coach Doc Rivers told re­porters this week. “We’ve been through a stretch where we didn’t have prac­tices, and in some cases, we didn’t even have shoot arounds.”

Af­ter Sun­day’s come-frombe­hind win over the Knicks, the Clip­pers had their first four straight days off at home of the sea­son. Wel­come to Camp Clip­pers. Rivers and his team got back to the ba­sics on a reg­u­lar prac­tice sched­ule.

They rested PG-13’s trou­ble­some ham­string, and Kawhi Leonard’s knee.

Palm­dale’s Fa­vorite Son, Leonard and guard Pa­trick Bev­er­ley are three of the best de­fend­ers at their po­si­tions in the NBA.

So these last five games have been per­sonal, not just busi­ness.

“We had to tighten some things up,” Bev­er­ley told re­porters. “We made re­ally good use of this week. We’re not go­ing to get an­other break in the sched­ule like this for an­other month.”

The re­cal­i­brated Clip­pers host the Golden State War­riors tonight. The Dubs have lost six straight.

Nei­ther they nor their past glo­ries are the fo­cus now.

The Clip­pers’ po­ten­tial fu­ture glory is.

These last two weeks have been a jolt.

Even with PG-13 and Kawhi, they’ve man­aged to look like your fa­ther’s Clip­pers.

Now they have to re­spond to the sea­son’s first real cri­sis.

The Clip­pers have to turn up the de­fense, and turn down the echoes of yes­ter­year.

Right now.

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