Clippers point guard attempts to drive around Miami guard Dwyane Wade. (David Santiago / MCT )
NEW YORK — Basically, Chris Paul told reporters in the locker room after the Clippers were routed by Miami on Friday night, don't kill my vibe.
By no means was Paul fine with the Clippers losing, but he was reassured about what is ahead for his team because of the full complement of players they have for the first time this season.
Paul had missed nine consecutive games with a bruised right kneecap, and he wasn't himself in his first game back against the Heat.
Still, Paul was encouraged.
"For me, I'm just excited. It was exciting to run out and have all the bodies," Paul said about the complete 13-man roster the Clippers finally have ready to play.
"Right now, we're watching guys' minutes because guys haven't played and guys are injured and stuff like that. We'll be all right."
Chauncey Billups was back after missing 34 games with tendinitis in his left foot. Blake Griffin was back after missing two games with a strained left hamstring and Jamal Crawford was back after missing a game with a sore right shoulder.
After the game, Griffin wasn't cool with the idea of this being a process to integrate all the new players, but his veteran teammates were taking a different view.
"It's going to be a small little adjustment period," Billups, a 16-year veteran, said after playing despite a stiff back during the game. "We get guys back. The rotation is going to be a little different."
The Clippers will see whether they make those adjustments Sunday when they play at the New York Knicks.
"Hopefully, it won't take long," Paul said. "With the group we've got, it won't take long at all. Luckily, we've got guys who know how to play. We're going to be just fine."
It has been a common theme all season: The Clippers don't defend the three-point shot well.
Coach Vinny Del Negro admitted that "my biggest concern" is his team's inability to defend beyond the arc.
"Hopefully we can play the Knicks much better" than against the Heat, Del Negro said. The Knicks "open the court up. We have to do a better job of having a sense of urgency on the close-outs."
The Clippers allow teams to make 37.7% of their three-pointers, the fourth-highest percentage surrendered in the NBA.
Their three-point defense will be tested again by the Knicks, who make 38.3% of their three-pointers, fifth-best in the NBA.
"We really need to hold each other accountable," Griffin said. "I think when we play great defense, it gets us out in transition and we get some easy buckets. It gets everybody going and kind of gets a better tempo. We have to be sharp defensively from the beginning."