Clippers use first practice in a month to work on problematic areas

There was a new wrinkle in the Clippers’ latest game preparation on Friday.

They had a practice.

It had been nearly a full month — 28 days to be exact — since the Clippers had a practice — and ample time — to work on problematic areas.

"It’s like a weird feeling being here getting taped and getting ready for practice, we haven’t done it in so long," Blake Griffin said before practice. "I think everyone is excited about it. Hopefully, we come in and focus in and have the right mindset and get some work done."

The previous time the Clippers practiced was Dec. 5, when the Clippers also had two days off between home games.

"It’s going to be good to compete and get after each other a little bit," Chris Paul said. "(There are) us guys that play just about all the minutes every night, but it’s tough sometimes on the younger guys. They’re not playing much in the game and you don’t really have much practice time. It’s good for them and all of us to get up and down and sharpen some things up."

It had been so long since a practice that Griffin recently checked his schedule to figure out when the last time the team practiced.

Doc Rivers’ practice philosophy, especially in this hectic schedule, is usually to not practice when there’s one day off between games. Since Dec. 5, the Clippers have played 15 games in 33 days.

Rivers said he checks in with players on whether to practice or not as well.

"They go back and forth but I try to use what I hear from them and use my own judgment," Rivers said. "It’s one of those things you get wrong half the time and right half the time and you just live with it."

The Clippers’ defense has been an Achilles heel all season, and now there’s time to get to work on it.

"Defensively I think will be the main focus for us," Griffin said. "(Also), offensive pace but defensively, transition defense, defending the 3, defending the second and third effort, pick and roll, stuff like that."

The Clippers closed out the new year by winning three of their last four games, including their last two games against Utah and New York. The Clippers (22-11) play 4-win Philadelphia on Saturday but host Atlanta (23-8), which is second in the Eastern Conference, on Monday.

"We need to play better against better teams and have better showings, at least," Griffin said. "It is nice to have a couple wins. We’ll take those no matter what."