The learning curve was more like a blind curve for the Clippers’ youngsters against Portland in the exhibition opener.
After the Clippers’ 28 turnovers, on the way to a 115-86 loss to the Trail Blazers on Tuesday, you can fully understand the sentiment from Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro.
“Lot of work to do with all these young guys,” Del Negro said Wednesday in a telephone interview, after a team practice in Sacramento.
Lot of work, indeed.
That was the message resonating after the game in Portland, one with precious few bright spots. The Clippers, without last season’s starting backcourt of Baron Davis and Eric Gordon, stayed competitive early and then unraveled with a rash of turnovers once they started substituting.
Clippers rookie Al-Farouq Aminu, in particular, struggled in a big way. He fouled out and was 0 for 3 from the field, finishing with one point, four turnovers and no rebounds.
“Look, we had a ton of turnovers,” Del Negro said.
“That goes with understanding the game, understanding what we’re doing, protecting the basketball. All those things are good learning opportunities for these young guys.
“We’ve got a long way to go in terms of getting everyone on the same page as quick as possible.”
Tuesday’s game was the first chance for Del Negro to see Blake Griffin in legitimate NBA action.
Griffin’s last game action was in the Clippers’ final exhibition game last fall when he suffered a stress fracture in his left kneecap.
Against the Trail Blazers on Tuesday, Griffin had nine points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes.
“It’s the same for Blake. He’s got to get the speed of the game down and understand what we’re doing out there at both ends of the court,” Del Negro said. “It was good to see him out there. We didn’t have [Gordon or Davis], but there were some positive things here and there.
“I thought their pressure bothered us and that’s something we haven’t worked a lot on right now. We’ll get to all those things. There’s a priority list and it can’t get done all in one day.”
Rookie guard Eric Bledsoe, slowed briefly by a bone bruise in his knee last week, is doubtful for Thursday’s exhibition against the Kings because of a sprained ankle. Another rookie guard, Willie Warren, (groin) remains doubtful.
Del Negro said Gordon might get some minutes against Sacramento, but he wasn’t so sure that Davis would play Thursday night.
Davis, hampered by a sore knee and strained calf, was able to practice Wednesday. As for Gordon, the Clippers are managing his time carefully because he is coming off a long summer of basketball; he was a key reserve on the gold-medal winning Team USA in the world championships.