Five days before the Clippers' season opener, Chris Kaman walked on crutches, Kerry Kittles stood off to the side and Coach Mike Dunleavy stressed defense during Friday's practice at Los Angeles Southwest College.
A night earlier, the Clippers ended a 2-6 exhibition season with a 109-88 loss to Phoenix, the Suns torching them for the second time in 16 days. They gave up 98.5 points a game during the exhibition season, including two games in which they limited the lightly regarded Golden State Warriors to 81 and 82 points.
"I could live with doing all the right things, from a defensive standpoint ... and somebody just making shots on you or overpowering you because they're bigger or they're better," Dunleavy said after Thursday's loss at Staples Center. "That would tell me, 'OK, well we did everything right, but we haven't been able to stop them because they're bigger than we are or we're short-handed, or whatever.' But I'm not seeing that part of it. The recognition just isn't there consistently....
"Obviously, there have been some extenuating circumstances, but for us to crack, that's not acceptable."
Regarding those extenuating circumstances, Dunleavy hinted that Kaman would join Kittles on the injured list to open the season, leaving the Clippers with two of their projected starters on the shelf.
Kaman suffered a sprained left ankle in Wednesday night's loss to the Warriors. Friday, Dunleavy described it as "black and blue from here up to there," indicating about an eight-inch swath on the outside of the ankle.
"Major discolorization and swelling," he said. "It's big, it's ugly."
He said Kaman, the only Clipper to play in all 82 games last season, probably would be sidelined for about two weeks. The Clippers open the season Wednesday night against the Seattle SuperSonics at Staples Center and play seven games in the season's first 11 days, five on the road. Kittles hasn't practiced because of a sore right knee.
The Clippers are well into negotiations to build a practice facility at the Playa Vista development near the Marina and San Diego freeways, a source said. The team hopes to move into its new practice site before next season.... With no timetable in place for Kittles' return, the Clippers will keep their eyes open as other teams make cuts over the next few days, Dunleavy said.... Backup center Zeljko Rebraca, suffering flu-like symptoms, was excused from practice so as not to infect his teammates. "That's all I need," Dunleavy said.