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CLIPPERS FYI

Blake Griffin is learning his place

The rookie has lots to remember, but his skills are improving both on and off the court.

October 23, 2009|Lisa Dillman

Lessons for a rookie, Part 9.

There's plenty for Clippers rookie Blake Griffin to remember and, by all accounts, he's doing a standout job, on and off the court. But even the most diligent of pupils can slip up from time to time.

"Biggest thing I've learned?" he said on Thursday. "Being in somebody's spot when you're a rookie, you've got to move. I've been kicked out of so many spots."

Such as the wrong chair on the side of the court, wrong seat on the bus, wrong yoga mat . . . and wrong shower.

Shower?

Griffin nodded. "You've got to remember," he said. "I think I've got it down now."

Almost.

"Ricky [Davis] was in the bathroom and there was a [yoga] mat open. I'm stretching and all of a sudden I look up and Ricky's standing over me, like, 'You must have forgot,' " Griffin said.

" 'You're right. I did.' "

Forgetfulness on the court has been rare in camp. Griffin quickly answered any outstanding questions about his defensive abilities and worked tenaciously on his shot since the Clippers took him with the No. 1 overall pick in June.

"He wasn't an overly active defender in college," Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "When I brought it to his attention, he said, 'Coach, they just wanted me to play straight up and don't get in foul trouble at all.' "

Said Griffin: "I was a little passive at times last year because I didn't want to get in foul trouble."

Still, there was always a strong foundation of defensive skills, formulated years ago.

"That's just from being around the game and just knowing different stuff," Griffin said. "In high school, my dad [Tommy] stressed fundamentals a lot. Our first 45 minutes in practices was all fundamentals, like defensive drills, defensive rotations, stuff like that.

"It's something that somewhat comes naturally, but it's a little different now."

The initial plan, before camp, was to have Griffin come off the bench. But with Marcus Camby (sprained left ankle) still out of the lineup and not practicing, and with the regular-season opener on Tuesday, it seems increasingly likely Griffin will start.

If not, he's fine with that too.

"To be honest, if we're a better team with me coming off the bench, I wouldn't mind coming off the bench." Griffin said.

"I would enjoy starting. For me, especially right now, as I'm still learning, I don't have a problem at all coming off the bench."

And, finally, the teammate-bestowed nickname, "Amazin'," is better than something negative.

"As long as it's not something bad, like, 'Not Amazin'," Griffin said.

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Etc.

The Clippers' final exhibition game is tonight against the New Orleans Hornets at Staples Center, and Al Thornton, who has been out because of an injured right arm, said he thought he would play.

Additionally, there are no plans to rest any of the healthy players, including point guard Baron Davis.

"He had a day off yesterday," Dunleavy said. "He doesn't need a rest. I told him that we'd try to give him two half-games off. Against San Antonio, he played shorter and the last game [against Tel Aviv] we played shorter. We only have 15 guys, nobody has the night off."

Thornton on Griffin: "He plays hard, man. He's either going to hurt himself or he's going to hurt somebody. That's how hard he plays."

--

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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