PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Trust is not built overnight and neither are championship contenders but at some point the two usually go hand-in-hand and Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul said he can already see that taking place.
“Trust,” Paul said when asked where the team has made its biggest strides this season. “I think trust. Even though we’re nowhere near where we want to be you can see the signs of trust. Our communication is picking up on the defensive end and we’re starting to talk a little more and know where each other is going to be and know that we have one another’s backs.”
The Clippers began to improve defensively in their overtime win over the Miami Heat Wednesday night, holding the Heat to 39.5 percent shooting. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade missed a combined seven shots and the Heat were 1-for-10 from the field in the extra period. It was easily the Clippers’ most complete game of the season even though they still rank last in the NBA in rebounds per game and in the bottom eight in points allowed per game.
“Defensively is where we hope to continue to improve,” Paul said. “Some nights we’re going to make shots and some nights we’re not but one thing that can always remain consistent is our effort and our defense.”
After the win against Miami, the Clippers were careful not to label it a statement game and have taken the same approach leading into their much-hyped game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.
“Statement games are big in college but even though we’re playing a shortened season, we’re still playing 66 games,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. “We could win 10 statement games and lose the other 56 and be in a bad position so I’m not really for all that.”
Although the Clippers beat the Lakers in both of their exhibition games, Paul said he doesn’t believe that has any bearing on Saturday’s game.
“We ran a lot of our plays and they ran a lot of their plays,” Paul said. “Preseason is all good and well but it’s really not the intensity of a regular season game. This is a division game for us. This is a big game for us and we have to take care of our home court, which is, I guess, their home court too.”