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Vinny Del Negro downplays rivalry again

Del Negro's Clippers are making strides, but the focus remains on improvement, not the Lakers.

November 03, 2012|By Broderick Turner
  • Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro talks with Eric Bledsoe during game against the Lakers on Oct. 24 2012.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro talks with Eric Bledsoe during game against… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

Over and over, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro has repeated that there isn't a rivalry between his team and the Lakers.

Del Negro knows that the Clippers play in the same city and in the same building. He knows that the Lakers have won 16 NBA championships, the Clippers none.

But Del Negro's team is making strides, beating the winless Lakers, 105-95, Friday night to show anybody listening that the Clippers are a team on the rise.

With Chris Paul running the show with 18 points, 15 assists and six rebounds, the Clippers improved to 2-0. The Lakers are 0-3.

Blake Griffin had 15 points and eight rebounds before fouling out.

Jamal Crawford, the team's super-sub, had 21 points for the Clippers, who play the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night at Staples Center.

Before the game, the media asked Del Negro whether the Clippers players ever talk about the Lakers, just in passing.

"Not really, no," Del Negro said. "You guys [in the media] do. But, really, we're focused in on us and not anybody else, whether it's the Lakers or Memphis in the first game."

Bledsoe gets coach's attention

Like most of the reserves, backup point guard Eric Bledsoe is seeking more playing time.

But he's playing behind Paul, an All-Star point guard, which is the primary reason why Bledsoe's minutes won't be high this season.

Still, Del Negro said he would like to get Bledsoe more playing time if it's possible.

"There's no question that he has been playing well," Del Negro said. "Just his athleticism, his activity. But you can't always get away with that, just because of his size factor. And Chris is going to be out there. But Eric deserves minutes. "

Bledsoe played well in his 14 minutes, scoring 10 points on four-for-eight shooting.

Del Negro has a deep team and doling out minutes isn't easy.

He can play 10 players, maybe even 11, on any given night.

"I've talked to everybody about their role, accepting their role and what I expect from them," Del Negro said. "I don't think there are going to be any surprises there. They understand it. Not everybody is going to like it at times, but that's just part of it because they are competitive and they want to be out there to help their team."

Del Negro likes the idea of having veterans with lots of experience and veterans with youth coming off his bench.

It gives him a nice mix of athletes to use.

"I think we have a nice balance on our roster from younger guys to guys in the prime of their careers to some veteran guys that have been through it," Del Negro said. "So hopefully the leadership of those veteran guys will kind of help in that area."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

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