Chris Paul and the Clippers were rewarded with a rare day off by Coach Doc… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
The Clippers had played nine games in 15 days, a blistering pace that left them weary and in need of rest more than practice on the rare off days.
And they had played seven of the games on the road, leaving the Clippers fatigued and in no shape for extra work.
So when the team had two straight days off Thursday and Friday, Coach Doc Rivers opted not to practice Thursday so he could rest his players' legs.
The Clippers then practiced Friday in preparation for Saturday night's game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center.
"I really had planned on practicing both days," Rivers said. "Then after watching our performance against the [New Orleans] Pelicans [on Wednesday], I figured we were tired and needed the rest."
The Clippers had returned home from their seven-game, 13-day trip in the early-morning hours Sunday and had to face the tough San Antonio Spurs on Monday night at Staples Center.
It turned out they were more than up to the task, beating the Spurs by 23 points.
But the Clippers were not quite the same team two nights later against the Pelicans — struggling to find their groove despite a 13-point victory.
"We looked real sluggish the other night against the Pelicans," Chris Paul said. "It's crazy because we've played so many games. Doc does a great job of making sure we have our legs."
Rivers' approach on whether to practice or take time off is something Paul favors.
"Well, it's unique to me because I've never had it," Paul said. "I'm not sure how everybody else does it. It's great because even when we do practice, everything is always efficient. We come in and there's no wasted time and we get to it."
Blake Griffin said his energy level was higher when the Clippers played the Spurs coming off the long trip than it was for the game against the Pelicans after being home three days.
"I felt better Monday than I did on Tuesday, which is weird," Griffin said.
Rivers said the Clippers will have practices Monday and Tuesday, "which this team needs."
The Clippers then will play Christmas night at the Golden State Warriors and on Thursday at the Portland Trail Blazers.
Rivers says he always has to weigh whether to practice.
"If it's close, it's no practice, is the way I go with it most of the time," Rivers said. "If I'm contemplating or I think we're tired, then we're probably tired. I use my coaches. And I look at what we need. Like we needed two practices, but I thought it would have been silly to do just with the fatigue."