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Thursday, October 3, 2013
Still plenty of dunks ahead

By Arash Markazi

SAN DIEGO -- Doc Rivers doesn’t have a nickname as catchy as “Lob City” for the offense the Clippers will run this season but thinks it will be much more effective in the playoffs than the offense the Clippers ran in the past.

“We don’t want to be one dimensional. We want to be a basketball team,” Rivers said. “We want to win. That’s one thing we always talk about. I’ve told them that lobs are great but winning is better. Let’s try to get them both but . . . I think the message there is people look at us as a showtime team and not a winning team and we want to be a winning team but you can do both.”

Blake Griffin told ESPN’s Shelley Smith that he doesn’t want the Clippers to be referred to as “Lob City” anymore.

“Lob City doesn't exist anymore. Lob City is done,” Griffin said. “We're moving on and we're going to find our identity during training camp and that will be our new city. No more Lob City.”

While Rivers is fine with retiring the “Lob City” nickname he said the Clippers will still have plenty of lob dunks this season.

“I don’t think anybody is setting up a play to get a lob. Lobs happen,” Rivers said. “We have two guys that you could throw the ball anywhere. We would be crazy if we took that out of our offense. I want more [lobs] if we can get them. That’s two points. It’s very difficult to foul D.J. [DeAndre Jordan] when he’s up there for a lob pass. Half the league won’t try it and the guys who have tried it have learned that they shouldn’t try it. We’re going to get as many as we can. We want [longtime Clippers announcer] Ralph [Lawler] saying, ‘Oh me, oh my!’”

Rivers has spent a good portion of the opening of Clippers training camp, which is being held at UC San Diego, focusing on the Clippers’ motion offense. He wants the Clippers to get out of the isolation offense they were in last season, which saw the ball stop with one player and forced others to simply watch, and into a more fluid system where the players and the ball are constantly moving.

"There’s a difference between running and standard motion,” Rivers said. “Every team talks about running. We want to be a running team but for us, we really want to be a motion team. We want to be a team that’s in constant motion and constantly moving so it’s very difficult to load up on us and help off of us. It’s a rhythm and pace of how we want to play. The pace is not extremely fast, it’s not slow, but there’s always a pace. To me, that’s more effective and that’s what we’re trying to get our guys to do. I think the biggest change will be for our bigs, when to go to the post and when to space the floor.”

Rivers has put added pressure on Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to take their games to the next level in camp. He has gone as far as calling Jordan a candidate for defensive player of the year this season and the captain of the team’s defense. Rivers believes the Clippers new motion offense will give them a chance for success in the postseason they didn’t have last season when the ball would often stop in the hands of one player.

“We don’t want our team to be an isolation team,” Rivers said. “We don’t want our team to be a hold-the-basketball team. You can get away with that in the regular season and then in the playoffs they load up on you and then that isolation doesn’t work anymore. So we have to have a system that the best players can take advantage of and everyone else can function through at the same time. They need that ability. The system comes into play more in the playoffs than it does in the regular season because there’s more pressure and you want your average guys to still function. I think that’s really important.”

Rivers has split up training camp so far implementing his defense and offense but admits it will take more time learning the defense.

“Defense takes longer because you have to sit there and talk about it where offense you can put it in and run it,” Rivers said. “Defense is more about philosophy and just talking about and getting guys to buy into it. It always takes longer especially in camp.”

As good as Chris Paul has been during his career, Rivers believe the team’s new offense will not only cater to his skills but allow him to have success in the playoffs.

“It spaces the floor for him so it gives him more space,” Rivers said. “Even in the [isolations] there’s still movement. Instead of everybody standing still and watching him play or watching Jamal [Crawford] play, Chris, I’m hoping, will get easier shots with less help."

Paul said he has liked what he has seen in practice so far from the team as they implement Rivers’ offensive and defensive principles.

“It only helps us,” Paul said. “I think what it gives us is the defense doesn’t know what’s coming. It keeps everybody engaged on the defensive end and also gets everyone on our team involved on the offensive end… It’s really not that big of an adjustment. For us, it’s just defending, when you defend, you get an opportunity to run so that’s what it is.”

Associate head coach Alvin Gentry has been tasked with heading up the Clippers’ offense this season. It’s an up-tempo style that Jared Dudley is familiar with having played for Gentry with the Phoenix Suns the previous five seasons.

“We have to run,” Dudley said. “This is the most athletic team I’ve ever been on. That’s a strength of ours. I just think we have to take the next step defensively and on offense its half court execution.”