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Clippers aren't surprised to be facing Memphis in season opener

The two teams last saw each other in Game 7 of playoff series that Clippers won. There was animosity, but Blake Griffin says the same amount of physical play shouldn't be expected in opener.

October 30, 2012|By Broderick Turner
  • The Clippers' Blake Griffin reacts during play against the Lakers on Oct. 24, 2012.
The Clippers' Blake Griffin reacts during play against the Lakers… ( Harry How / Getty Images )

When the NBA announced the 2012-13 schedule, Chris Paul wasn't surprised in the least to see that the Clippers would play the Memphis Grizzlies in both teams' season opener at Staples Center on Wednesday.

"We went a seven-game playoff series against them," Paul said. "First game of the season. Why not?... The plot thickens. So it's exciting. I'm sure [Memphis] is ready to play us just like we're ready to play them."

And what a seven-game playoff series it was last spring.

The Clippers trailed by 27 points in the third quarter of Game 1 of the Western Conference first-round series in Memphis and roared back to win that game, 99-98. By coming back, the Clippers tied the largest comeback in playoff history in the shot-clock era.

The Clippers then became only the 22nd team in league history to win a Game 7 on the road.

There was a lot of trash talking in the series. Memphis fans started calling the Clippers "Flop City," a takeoff on the team's nickname of "Lob City."

"I'm sure the [NBA] wants to showcase that matchup," Blake Griffin said. "But it won't be the same. We've played in the regular season before and you can't play that same type of physical basketball in the regular season that you played in the playoffs.

"Your body won't allow you to. So I don't expect it to be as physical, but it's still going to be more physical than any other game."

As the Clippers open a new season, they have a much deeper team than last season. They added seven new players, including Lamar Odom, Grant Hill and Jamal Crawford.

"The strong suit of our team is obviously our depth," Paul said, "and probably our veteran leadership. We have guys here that have been in just about every situation possible."

Odom to play

Odom said after practice Tuesday that he will not miss the Clippers' season opener against the Grizzlies.

"Yeah, I'm playing," Odom said from his car before he drove off. "And don't call it a comeback, either. I'll be ready to play."

Odom had missed two weeks of practice because of a bone bruise in his left knee and sat out the last five exhibition games. He last played Oct. 14, when the Clippers played the Miami Heat in Shanghai.

Barnes suspended

Clippers forward Matt Barnes was suspended Tuesday by the NBA for one game without pay after he pleaded no contest last month to a misdemeanor count of resisting, delaying or obstructing a police officer.

Barnes, 32, will miss the Clippers' game against Memphis.

He was arrested in Manhattan Beach in July on suspicion of threatening a public official, a felony. Barnes was arrested after an officer who was aware he had an outstanding warrant for a misdemeanor traffic violation approached him on foot.

But the Los Angeles County district attorney's office chose to file a misdemeanor and it agreed to a deal on a lesser charge.

Etc.

Hill (bone bruise in right knee) and Chauncey Billups (recovering from left Achilles' tendon surgery) are expected to be out several more weeks.... The Clippers waived second-year guard Travis Leslie.

Twitter: @BA_Turner

broderick.turner@latimes.com

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