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Basketball / Sports

Defense still his biggest concern for Clippers

LOS ANGELES--The Los Angeles Clippers' up-and-down defense is back on the downswing.

Earlier this season the Clippers were giving up the most points in the NBA, but their defense tightened and they moved up to the middle of the pack.

But there has been some slippage lately by the Clippers on defense, and it has Coach Doc Rivers concerned.

"We're just not consistent enough," Rivers said after the Clippers' 116-115 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

The Clippers can score, Rivers pointed out, with his team second in the league in scoring with an average of 106.1 points per game.

But the defense is still inconsistent.

The Clippers give up 100.4 points per game, ranking 14th.

"Fortunately, we're good enough offensively," Rivers said. "But later (in the season and playoffs) that's not going to work. You're just not going to roll it out and outscore everybody. You're going to have to get stops. You're going to have to get stops in a row and it has to be consistent.

"And for us to be an elite team, we have to do that. We can be a good team the way we're playing. But if you want to be elite, you have to have something, a standard defensively. That's what we have to set. We're working on it and I think our guys want to do it. We just have to do a better job of it."

Rebounding woes

The Nuggets outrebounded the Clippers by 15 and Rivers was particularly unhappy because his team gave up 17 offensive rebounds.

Center DeAndre Jordan and power forward Blake Griffin did their job for the most part, with Jordan getting 12 rebounds and Griffin 11.

No one else on the team, though, had more than four rebounds.

The Clippers are averaging 42.6 rebounds per game, tied for 19th in league.

"We've got to rebound better as a group," Rivers said. "And it's not on the bigs. It's on everybody."

Rivers said his guards have to stop dribble-drive penetrations.

"The bigs are in help (defense) half the game. We've got to do a better job of controlling the dribble. If we do a better job of controlling the dribble, then our bigs are under the basket rebounding where they should be," he said.

Jordan leads the NBA in rebounds, averaging 14 a game, and Griffin is averaging 9.7 rebounds.

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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