Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro wants to see more intensity from his players… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Clippers are 8-2 in their last 10 games, but both losses have similar characteristics.
The Clippers fell behind by big margins and made late, furious rallies, only to fall short.
So during Tuesday's film session in preparation for their game Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro warned his team about bringing intensity from the start.
The Clippers trailed the Lakers by 15 points, then took a lead, but lost last Wednesday. And they trailed the Grizzlies by 17 points in the fourth quarter Monday night at Memphis, then got to within three points before losing by nine.
"We have to lock in [Wednesday] for a difficult game. We have to execute the game plan and not get outworked in areas," Del Negro said. "The guys realized that they have to raise their level of play. I thought we did kind of in the second half, maybe in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter [at Memphis]. But that's not enough."
In a 114-91 loss to the Thunder here March 21, the Clippers were outworked in key areas. They were outrebounded, 49-31, and outscored in the paint, 44-22.
Oklahoma City (42-15) is trying to maintain the best record in the Western Conference and the Clippers (34-23) are trying to remain one of the top four teams in the conference and secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
"We have to understand that these are like almost playoff games," Del Negro said. "Everyone is vying for position. Everyone is trying to get into the playoffs. Everyone is fighting for their lives right now and we have to have that sense of urgency."
Paul doing fine
After Monday night's game, Chris Paul felt pain in his bruised right elbow. Paul insisted after the game that he was fine and said after the practice Tuesday, "Yeah, I'm good."
His shooting, however, wasn't so good against Memphis. Paul missed 10 of 17 from the field and three of four three-point attempts.
"I've just been missing a lot of shots," Paul said. "I've got to find my rhythm. I came here early this morning and worked out, so I'll see how I feel tomorrow."
Mo Williams, who has missed 10 games because of a sprained left big toe, played some one-on-one and two-on-two at practice Tuesday, but Del Negro said the reserve guard remains listed as day to day.
"He's been playing [in practice], but the other day he played a little bit and he was pretty sore afterward," Del Negro said. "So we just have to see how bad it is."