SHANGHAI – The biggest news from practice Saturday was the announcement that Chris Paul would be back in action Sunday against the Miami Heat.
The impact was immediate, as Paul went around from player to player giving little instructions. The team, knowing that they would have their floor general back, already looked significantly better. They played more confidently and dare I predict – the turnovers will be down vs. Miami on Sunday.
Practice was divided into two parts. The first was a closed practice, where the team worked on its plays and defenses. The second was an open practice, where over 8,000 screaming fans got a chance to see what a real NBA practice is all about.
For most of these fans, it will be the one and only time that they get to see an NBA player live and in person. The team looked good in a scrimmage and not surprisingly, every dunk got a wild ovation.
The best player on the court Saturday for the Clippers was Lamar Odom. Odom, when at full strength and focused, is such a unique talent and a welcome addition to this Clippers roster. If Odom returns to his 2011 Sixth Man of the Year Award-winning form, the Clippers bench will be much improved and much deeper with his addition alone.
The bench was a weakness for the Clippers last season, but Los Angeles shored up that area this offseason with the additions of Odom, Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and bigs Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins.
Following practice, the NBA concluded its biggest promotion in China yet. Over four days, the people in Shanghai have taken 1 million shots commemorating the NBA’s visit. Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and both teams participated in the final ceremony and shot the last 40 shots to conclude the promotion.
Dwyane Wade took the 1 millionth shot, a two-handed slam dunk.
The Clipper players participated in several other promotions in and around Shanghai:
-DeAndre Jordan signed autographs and promoted the Under Armour brand.
-Blake Griffin made sandwiches at a local Subway store.
-Paul made a surprise stop at a local playground to give away shoes and play pickup basketball with a shocked and elated group of kids. He played for about 15 or 20 minutes, and by the time he was done had a huge crowd.
The Clippers will take on the Miami Heat Sunday at 9:30 p.m. (PT) before returning home to Los Angeles.