Rivers looking for Clippers to grow up


LOS ANGELES -- When Doc Rivers was on the opposing bench, watching the Los Angeles Clippers from afar, he would often notice they would let little things get to them.

A bad call would turn into a technical foul that would result in a free throw and a change in momentum. A bad turnover wouldn't just result in one layup but pouting that led to a couple of layups. It's one of the main things Rivers is trying to get his team to get past during training camp and the preseason.

"We can be really good, but we have to have a stick-to-it-ness," Rivers said. "That's going to be a challenge for us. We have to be able to stick to us and we tend to get sidetracked, and that's where we have to improve as a group. When things go good, of course, that's easy, but when things go bad, that's when we have to be good. That's when we have to embrace it. No one wants to embrace being bad, but you have to sometimes, it happens. You get through it and keep pushing through it. That's going to be the key for us."

There are several times during practices and scrimmages that Rivers or his assistants have to remind players to move past a play and focus on the next one, reminding them they can't waste time complaining once the season starts.

"Calls, missed shots, not playing well, executing, it creates frustration," Rivers said. "That's a good thing, but you have to move to the next play. The clock keeps ticking. There's no four-second timeout so you can get over the frustration as a group. You have to keep playing. We have to get them to see that."

When Rivers speaks about the Clippers' shortcomings in the past, especially during the playoffs, he always says "we" even though he was coaching the Boston Celtics while the Clippers were losing four straight games to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round last season. Rivers said that has a lot to do with inheriting the Clippers' past, good and bad, as soon as he took the job.

"I own them. They're mine now. I adopted them," Rivers said. "The minute I said I'm the Clippers' coach, any problems that we had are my problems."

Rivers pointed to a couple of moments at the end of Wednesday's scrimmage held at USC's Galen Center that showed how much the team still needs to improve on moving past plays that don't go their way.

"We hung our heads after Chris [Paul] turned the ball over," Rivers said. "You can see our guys and that's when I jumped in and said, 'Guys there's five seconds left. There's a ton of time. You're down two points and there's five seconds left. That doesn't mean you lose the game.' The next thing you know, they turn the ball over and we get the ball back to win the game. Those lessons are invaluable to your team. The game is never over. That's what our team has to get. If we can get through that, we're going to be really good. And if we're not, we won't."