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CLIPPERS FYI

Clippers are looking to play better defense as playoffs approach

'We want our identity to be a defensive mind-set,' says Blake Griffin. Instead, the Clippers have the NBA's fourth-worst defense against three-point shooting.

March 21, 2013|By Melissa Rohlin

The Clippers are known for their soaring lobs and jaw-dropping dunks, but they'd like to be known for something else.

"We want our identity to be a defensive mind-set," Blake Griffin said.

After Tuesday's embarrassing 116-101 loss at Sacramento, the Clippers pored over film, analyzing their poor rotations during a game in which the Kings shot 50.7% from the field and 50% from the three-point line, and outscored the Clippers, 38-18, in the fourth quarter.

A day later, the Clippers held Philadelphia's star point guard Jrue Holiday to two points on one-for-eight shooting, and limited the 76ers to 36.7% from the field in a 101-72 win.

"That's the only way we have a chance going into the postseason, is if our defense is right," Chris Paul said after the win Wednesday.

The Clippers have struggled to defend three-point shots all season.

In their six games before playing Philadelphia, the Clippers allowed opponents to shoot a whopping 47.7% from beyond the three-point line. For the season, the Clippers have the league's fourth-worst defense against three-pointers, allowing opponents to make 37.8% of their shots.

"It's unbelievable how teams seem to shoot the three against us," Paul said. "I mean, like, seriously, the game in Sac, we'd close out and be like, no way can they make this one again, and they'd keep on making them — and it's like every night. Sooner or later, hopefully somebody will miss."

Helping hand

With Eric Bledsoe (sore left calf) and Chauncey Billups (right groin strain) sidelined Wednesday, the Clippers got some much-needed help from backup point guard Maalik Wayns.

Wayns, who the Clippers called up from the D-League and signed to a second 10-day contract Tuesday, had nine points.

He gave the Clippers' second unit some of the quickness it has been lacking, and scored five points in the second quarter to help the Clippers outscore the 76ers, 26-16, in that period.

"He did a great job; forget his scoring, forget his offense," Griffin said. "The way he handled the ball, making it tough for them to bring it upcourt. The way he guarded, the way he was all over the place, just his intensity was huge for us. I think that's what we were used to in the second group, them really coming in and dogging the ball and making it tough for teams."

Etc.

The Clippers did not practice Thursday. Their next game is against Brooklyn on Saturday at Staples Center.

melissa.rohlin@latimes.com

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