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Vinny Del Negro isn't happy with where Clippers are on defense

Noticing a slip since the All-Star break, the coach says the team needs to concentrate on such fundamentals as being more physical, communicating better and boxing out for rebounds.

March 11, 2013|By Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times

The Clippers' play on defense has slipped since the All-Star break in mid-February.

And that bothers Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro to no end.

"I don't think our defensive intensity is where it needs to be right now," Del Negro said.

In their three losses since the All-Star break, the Clippers have given up 116 points to San Antonio, 108 to Oklahoma City and 107 to Denver.

"You see some of our defensive numbers dropping a little bit," Del Negro said, "and I don't like that."

For the season, the Clippers have given up 94.3 points per game, the fifth-best defense in the NBA.

So Del Negro knows his team can play defense when his players are committed to it.

Del Negro listed several things he wants to see his team do better on defense: denying passes, being more physical, executing the defensive game plan better, communicating on defense, sprinting back in transition defense, keeping an eye on where the basketball is, running three-point shooters off the three-point line and boxing out for defensive rebounds.

"Just all the fundamentals," Del Negro said. "There's no sidestepping stuff. You earn everything. You earn everything in practice with your preparation. It's the communication.…

"We have to do the ordinary things much better. All the things I just talked about, we have to do much better and consistently. And we're capable of doing that because I've seen us do it."

The Clippers do still lead the NBA in steals, getting 9.8 per game.

That's not good enough for Del Negro.

"I don't feel lately we've been as sharp as we needed to be," Del Negro said. "And in saying that, we've won nine out of 12.… But we've lost to three teams we feel like we're probably going to hopefully face in the playoffs."

Those three teams are the Spurs, Thunder and Nuggets.

Crawford, Bledsoe still injured

Jamal Crawford missed his second straight game because of a sore left ankle and Eric Bledsoe didn't play because of a sore left calf.

Crawford didn't practice the last two days but worked out on the court before Sunday's game before deciding he couldn't play.

Bledsoe also hasn't been able to practice the last two days.

The Clippers play only two games this week. They have Monday and Tuesday off before they play Memphis on Wednesday at Staples Center.

"I feel like I can't play, so I just have to sit out," Bledsoe said. "I've been talking to the older guys on the team who have been through injuries. They said that if you try to keep playing on it, it'll get worse. So I'll just let it get better."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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