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Clippers' Baron Davis works hard to erase memory of last season

The point guard likes his team's chances next season if everyone makes a commitment to improve.

August 15, 2009|Mark Medina

Clippers guard Baron Davis awoke from a bad dream and claims not to know what happened.

He cannot recall how the Clippers amassed a 19-63 record last season because of his refusal to reflect on it.

"I don't know who that was last year," Davis said Friday while signing autographs during his basketball camp at his alma mater, Crossroads High in Santa Monica. "I honestly can't remember or tell you anything that happened last year."

But then he does.

He thinks he returned too early from a sprained left ring finger he suffered at the beginning of the season. He says the root of his philosophical differences with Coach Mike Dunleavy stemmed from their failure to understand each other. He says there was not one instance last year of the team bonding. He repeatedly disparages his own play.

Davis vows that will change in the 2009-10 season. Where that will take the Clippers? The verdict is still out.

"The way I see it, we're the worst team," said Davis, who, in his first season of a five-year, $65-million deal, averaged 14.9 points and shot 37% from the field in 65 contests. "We got a huge mountain to climb. The only way we're going to do that is be the team that works the hardest."

Davis says he has made that commitment during this off-season.

He works more on his fundamentals. He arrives at the gym as early as 7 a.m. and departs as late as midnight. He breaks down film with Dunleavy. And most important, Davis says, he stays in shape.

He thinks the Clippers also moved forward in a busy off-season.

Davis likes that they drafted Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin as their No. 1 pick: "I like his work ethic. I like his personality."

He approves of the team acquiring guards Sebastian Telfair and Rasual Butler to give the backcourt depth: "It makes us faster. It makes us scrappier."

And he likes the possibility the Clippers may acquire free agent Ramon Sessions from the Milwaukee Bucks in a sign-and-trade deal: "He's another scorer, another penetrator, another unselfish player. I like his game."

All of which, Davis says, will lead to a much different season. One where he will not be living a nightmare.

"We're going to work hard, I know that," Davis said. "That's the mentality we have to have. We're not the most talented team. We're not one of the best teams in the NBA.

"As long as everybody is working, good things are going to happen."

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mark.medina@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesmedina

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