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CLIPPERS FYI

Clippers' reserves put a stop to the slide

After starters struggle against the Denver Nuggets in first quarter, Coach Vinny Del Negro turns to his bench. They respond by getting stops and changing momentum in 104-98 Clippers victory.

April 18, 2012|By Broderick Turner

DENVER — The Clippers' starters weren't getting the job done in the first quarter Wednesday night against the Denver Nuggets, as they trailed by 12 points.

So Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro turned to his reserves to turn things around in the second quarter, and they responded.

Nick Young had eight points in the second on three-for-five shooting. Mo Williams had five points and Kenyon Martin and Eric Bledsoe both had two.

It was that group that went on a 12-2 run early in the second quarter, turning the game around as the Clippers went on to 104-98 win.

"They just started getting stops for us and got us some momentum," Del Negro said.

No scouting reports done so far

Even though the Clippers already have clinched a playoff berth, Del Negro said they still aren't scouting potential playoff opponents.

Part of that is because the Clippers aren't sure who they will face in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

If the playoffs started today, the Clippers would host Memphis in the first two games at Staples Center.

But the playoff seedings seem to almost change nightly, leaving the Clippers and most every team in a quandary about who it will play.

"We're not there yet," Del Negro said. "There's obviously a few teams, but my focus and our focus right now is these games and trying to get better and stay with the direction we're heading and hopefully get better."

A chance to explore the zone

The Clippers have been mixing in some zone defense with their man-to-man coverages — with mixed results.

There have been games and even moments during the game when the Clippers' zone has been effective and there have been times when the zone has been ineffective.

"Let's just say it's evolving," Del Negro said, smiling, "sometimes toward the positive and sometimes toward the not so positive."

What are the positives?

"If we can get some missed jump shots and rebound out of it and try to change the rhythm of the game a little bit," then that's good, Del Negro said.

And the negatives?

"If jump shots go in and we don't rebound out of it, then that's usually a little bit of a layup drill, which is not good," Del Negro said. "We've got to pick our spots with that."

Etc.

Reggie Evans didn't play against the Nuggets on Wednesday night because of what the team called flu-like symptoms… Martin, who played seven seasons for Denver, had his highlights shown on the scoreboard before the game of his time with the Nuggets. It finished with, "Thank you, Kenyon!" Martin waved to the crowd that booed him when he tipped in the game-winning basket late.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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