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Clippers rank in NBA's second tier, says Steve Kerr

CLIPPERS FYI

Kerr sees the Clippers as a good young team that isn't on the level of his top three: San Antonio, Miami and Oklahoma City.

March 06, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • TNT NBA Analyst Steve Kerr says the Clippers are a notch below the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat.
TNT NBA Analyst Steve Kerr says the Clippers are a notch below the Oklahoma… (Matt York / Associated Press )

It still may be the regular season, but Steve Kerr said it's still OK to judge the Clippers on how they have played recently against the NBA's top three teams.

The team has lost recently to San Antonio, Miami and Oklahoma City, the three teams with the best records in the league.

And that's a troubling sign for the Clippers' hopes of going far in the playoffs.

"The Clippers are a young team and it does make sense to sort of gauge them when they run into top competition just to see where they are," said Kerr, an NBA analyst with TNT. "To me, they are a notch below those teams.

"They are a notch below San Antonio, even though they beat them a couple of times early. And Miami is the defending champs and Oklahoma City is the defending West champs. So, there's nothing at all wrong being just below those teams. But the step is to try to get to them."

In Kerr's eyes, the Clippers are one of the second-tier teams in the NBA, along with Memphis, Denver, New York, Indiana and maybe Boston.

He said he understands that the Clippers have seven new players and are trying to reach new levels as an organization.

"When you talk about the three best — Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Miami — they are great teams," Kerr said. "And it's not easy to be great in the NBA."

He said Miami — with LeBron James — and Oklahoma City — with Kevin Durant —have the top two players in the NBA. .

And Kerr said the Spurs' core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and 15 years of continuity with Gregg Popovich as the coach have helped the team win four NBA championships since 1999.

"So it's not easy to beat those teams," Kerr said. "That's what puts those three teams ahead of the rest of those other teams we just mentioned."

Turnovers an issue

The Clippers had 16 first-half turnovers against Oklahoma City on Sunday. They had five in the second half.

Coach Vinny Del Negro is not happy with the way the Clippers are taking care of the basketball. The team averages 15.1 turnovers per game, the 13th-most in the league.

His players are "trying to play a little faster than we need to," Del Negro said. "Not play our pace. Trying to make passes in crowds. I think our spacing has to continually get better. We can say it's because different guys are in and out of the lineup or whatever. But the bottom line is we have to protect the ball better than we have."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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