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Young is latest piece to puzzle

3/20/2012

There have been six mainstays in the Los Angeles Clippers rotation since the 2011-2012 season started on Christmas Day: Chris Paul, Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan.

Those six started the season with the team and continue playing in most every game. Then there are the five players the team has added into the mix since then, either by trade, free-agent signing or return from injury. In order, those are Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Eric Bledsoe, Bobby Simmons and, after making his debut in Sunday's win over the Detroit Pistons, now Nick Young.

And that doesn't count mid-year additions Solomon Jones and Courtney Fortson, who both played significant minutes with the Clips before getting released and landing elsewhere.

That's a lot of new pieces to add to a puzzle, especially considering they've all joined the team over an 84-day period in which the Clippers have played 44 games. And, to make matters worse, they've all been separate additions, joining the team weeks apart from each other.

How have the Clippers done it?

"It's not easy," coach Vinny Del Negro said before Sunday's game when asked that question. "We have to do a better job incorporating and getting a feel for guys, and that's tough. But that's the situation we're in.

"You've just gotta work together a little bit better and connect a little bit more as a team, because we're incorporating all types of players and personalities and you have to manage all that."

Blake Griffin put it a little more simply.

"It feels like we add a new piece every month or so," Griffin said after Sunday's game. "It's like every month you're forced to add someone new. I don't want to say it disrupts things, but it changes things.

"We're not used to playing with a guy like Nick. He's been in L.A. for two days now, I think."

Young definitely changed the shape of Sunday's game. Because he logged 29 minutes in the victory, Williams played only 24 -- the shortest time he's been on the court in almost a month. And Bledsoe, who had played in each of the Clippers' last 15 games, didn't play at all.

That was similar to what happened when the Clippers added Simmons at the end of February. Ryan Gomes has only played three minutes since Simmons was signed.

Evans also experienced a slight downturn in minutes right after Martin made his debut in early February.

Del Negro said Sunday he tries to focus on the "rhythm of certain lineups," and that makes sense. But there obviously wasn't going to be much rhythm with Young and the rest of the players on the floor during his 29 minutes against the Pistons.

But, as Griffin said, the Clippers can help ease the transitioning process if they turn up the energy, like they did in the fourth quarter and overtime period Sunday, when they outscored Detroit 30-18. Young was on the floor for 16 of 17 possible minutes in that stretch.

Said Griffin: "The thing is, if we play hard, we can kind of erase or make up for those mistakes that we make because we're new."