Traveling across country is always a difficult proposition for anyone. Especially for professional athletes - let’s say like a basketball team.
Thanks to the Disney On Ice holiday extravaganza taking over Staples Center the first two weeks of December, the Los Angeles Clippers took to the road for an east coast swing where they were able to win four out of the seven games on the roadie.
The schedule makers weren’t too kind on Doc Rivers’ bunch scheduling the San Antonio Spurs at home a day after returning from the trip. Then, two days later, the New Orleans Pelicans.
No worries. The Clippers won both games improving to 18-9.
At some point jet-lag was going to kick in after all that traveling and the unkind schedule.
It did with Rivers canceling practices from Sunday through Thursday of this week so acclimation to west coast time could be had. They did have a walk-through Wednesday morning to prepare for the Pelicans that night, but it was a light one.
And after a much-needed day off from basketball Thursday, the Clippers got back to a full practice Friday to prepare for tonight's game at Staples Center against the Denver Nuggets.
Us media types spoke with Rivers, guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin Friday about the time off. You can see those interviews in the video feature with this story. You’ll notice Paul is, understandably, still a little sluggish during his comment.
I, also, talked to coach Rivers about center DeAndre Jordan and his defined role on the team. Jordan had an impressive 14 point, 20 rebound and five blocked shots in Wednesday’s 108-95 win over New Orleans.
Wearing number six, he reminds me of Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell whose hall-of-fame career numbers read 15 points, 23 rebounds, four assists and six blocked shots per game.
Mind you, I’m not comparing Jordan to Russell. I just see many similarities between the two especially when you consider Russell’s role - given him by Celtics coach Red Auerbach on those Boston teams that won 11 titles during Russell’s 13 year career – was that of defender, rebounder and rim protector to trigger fast-breaks and easy buckets. Scoring was secondary to Russell.
As far as free throw shooting – DJ’s “Achilles Heel” – Russell averaged just 56% from the charity stripe for his career. Still, a little bit better than Jordan’s current average of 40%.
Room to grow for DJ who gets hacked late in every fourth quarter.
Tonight’s game against the Nuggets (14-11) is the first of a back-to-back with the Clippers hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday at Staples Center.