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Friday, February 22, 2013
Clippers look for fresh start against Utah

By Arash Markazi

LOS ANGELES -- As Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro walked off the practice court Friday afternoon, he had a smile on his face as he talked about the start of his team's season after the All-Star break.

"It was good to see that everyone got back here safe after the break," Del Negro said. "And our first game after the break will be tomorrow night."

Wait, what? Didn't the Clippers lose to the San Antonio Spurs, 116-90, on Thursday in their first game after the break?

Apparently not. The Clippers are hitting the reset button and acting as if that game never happened, and Saturday's game against the Utah Jazz is their first game after the break.

"Yeah, we got to reset," Del Negro said. "We got to reset a little bit. Some of the guys were still in Hawaii and Cabo during the All-Star break. We have to get out of the lethargic, slow, no intensity mentality. I was very disappointed in the effort last night but it's always a test. We have to bounce back and get back on track."

Del Negro says he doesn't think Thursday's blowout is an indication of things to come. He says he thinks it was more a matter of a team having a one-week break and still thinking they were on vacation as they took the court.

"We won four in a row going into the break and [were] playing pretty well," Del Negro said. "We're getting healthy and rotations changed but last night we were awful. We have to try to get back into rotation and work through that. We have to get back to playing harder, better, faster, stronger, tougher and we will."

Some players, such as Jamal Crawford, didn't watch tape of the Spurs game. Crawford normally makes it a point to watch all games that are on national television to hear what is said about his team. Matt Barnes didn't plan to watch it but after returning home around 3:30 a.m. after taking his wife, Gloria Govan, out for her birthday, he felt compelled to.

"After Gloria's birthday party I couldn't sleep," Barnes said. "I got home and watched it. ... It was just disappointing to have the first game back on TNT and get blown out like that against the Spurs. Everyone knows what that tastes like and we'll learn from it."

Despite the blowout loss, Barnes, like most of the players on the team, didn't put much stock into one loss against the Spurs. They had already defeated San Antonio handily twice this season and feel they can do it again if the teams were to meet in the playoffs.

"It was just one game," Barnes said. "We beat them twice and they beat us once. They definitely got us in vacation mode and they came in attack mode and beat us to the punch. We have to learn from that and we'll have to see them again hopefully in the playoffs."

Before practice, Del Negro and Chris Paul talked about the importance of finishing the season strong. The Clippers have only 25 games left in the season and now is the time for them to not only secure the best playoff seeding possible, but be in the best position to make a long run.

"We're not as consistent as I would like," Del Negro said. "We have improved in some areas and there are some areas we have to continually work on. ... I wish we had played as hard last night as we did in practice today, but we'll bounce back."