Clippers not struggling, just ‘a work in progress’

first_imgIt’s a common complaint in recent seasons from the Clippers, these tall men with a form of Napoleon complex. They are denied some of the respect and courtesies given to rivals in their conference, division and even city.“Maybe because they won a title they get the benefit of the doubt,” Rivers said. “I thought that early in the year. We had all these injuries, no one mentions it. And Golden State has a couple and it’s the end of the world for them.”The Warriors are currently playing without Kevin Durant, while Cleveland – which has lost four of six after beating Detroit on Tuesday – has endured injuries to Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and others.Whether the rest of the league catches on or not, Rivers is optimistic.“I like where we’re at,” he said. “I would like to be playing better, but I think we will. I have a lot of confidence in where we’re headed. So, I don’t look at it as negative as the outside world looks at it.”The Clippers could do a lot to change that perception simply by improving their defense.Tenth in overall defense until mid-February, in the 11 games between the All-Star break and Tuesday (many against some of the league’s top teams), the Clippers allowed 111.4 points per 100 possessions, 26th in the league.“I thought we struggled a little bit before injuries, defensively,” Rivers said. “I did. I thought the slide had started and then the injuries happened and we had to change a lot of the things we were doing and now we have to work our way back there and we have time to do it.”Late-season pick-up?Rivers likes his 15-man roster. Down to Alan Anderson, who provides a strong locker room presence, to developing rookies Diamond Stone and Brice Johnson, everyone has a role.That doesn’t mean Rivers isn’t still looking to make improvements or plan for the future.The coach and president said there is a “50-50” chance the Clippers would either add someone from the buyout market or the Development League, a move that would require waiving someone else.The question came up because of an ESPN report Tuesday that the Clippers could be interested in forward Omri Casspi, waived last month by the Pelicans. While that move doesn’t appear likely, Rivers is keeping open the option of doing something.“We’re always looking at it,” Rivers said, adding, “We’re looking at everything.”A D-Leaguer would be a longer-term play, giving the Clippers a chance to get contract rights to a young player going into next season. “I look at it like a work in progress,” he said.And that’s a matter of perception.“We’re looked at in a different lens,” Rivers said. “I don’t think Golden State is worried about struggling right now. It’s part of the season. Cleveland has lost four out of five, but for whatever reason, if we don’t play great, it’s a different lens.” LOS ANGELES >> The Clippers’ issues can be quickly summed up: a lagging defense, a spike in turnovers and losses at a much higher rate than which they are accustomed.When the Clippers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks on the road two weeks ago, Coach Doc Rivers acknowledged they were in a rut. Before Wednesday’s rematch, he took a more tactful and diplomatic route. The Clippers aren’t struggling, he said.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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