Inside a quiet, victorious Clippers locker room at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, the phrase tossed around late Thursday night was “kill mentality.”
And the question was whether or not the Clippers have it.
They didn’t show it against the depleted Suns. Or in a loss in which they blew an 18-point lead to Sacramento, or in a loss to Dallas in which the Clippers let a winnable game get away, or much at all lately as the regular season edges to its conclusion.
The playoffs are about two weeks away for the Clippers and the thought of Thursday night was whether the team could summon a kill mentality at will.
“No, you’ve got to have it. You got to have it,” Clippers center DeAndre Jordan repeated Thursday night. “Maybe it’s something you can learn. I don’t believe so.”
Jordan then was asked, do the Clippers have that mentality?
“I would hope so. I would hope so,” Jordan responded. “If not, it’s going to be an early exit.”
That would be an early exit from the playoffs.
Jordan said he has a kill mentality. “But as a team, it takes all of us,” he added. “But, yeah, I do. But we’ll find out. That’s for damn sure.”
The idea of being able to finish games became a topic when Chris Paul was asked where the Clippers stand with five regular-season games left.
The Clippers haven’t quite been killing it on the court these days, going 11-10 since the All-Star break.
“We’re still have a ways to go, but we’re right on the brink of it,” Paul said Thursday night. “I think that’s what it’s telling us. We’re capable of it. We know what to do. We just got to do it.”
Even in the games the Clippers have won, they have lost leads.
Maybe, it was suggested to Paul, this team losses its focus at times.
“It can be,” Paul said. “You can never get too comfortable. And that’s just always having that kill mentality and keeping your foot on the gas. Paying attention to detail, knowing that teams are not going to give up.”
In the Clippers’ eyes, they still have time to reclaim the mentality they once had earlier this season when they were 14-2.
“Definitely need to capture that,” Paul said. “I’ve got to do a better job of making sure we do that.”
Rest coming for Clippers
They played 18 games in 30 days during the month of March, leaving the Clippers fatigued.
“I’m excited about it. I’m excited about it,” Paul said. “First, we’ve got Saturday. But much needed rest. I’m all for it. I’m going to play when we’ve got the games.”
CLIPPERS VS LAKERS
When: 12:30 p.m.
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Spectrum SportsNet; Spectrum Deportes; Radio: 570, 1330, 710.
Records: Clippers 46-31; Lakers 21-54.
Records vs. Lakers: Clippers 2-1.
Update: The Clippers won their two games over the Lakers by an average of 20 points per game. The Clippers have defeated the Lakers 17 of their last 19 games, winning those games by an average of 15.7 points per game. The Lakers have lost nine of their last 10 games, 17 of 19.
Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner
Published at Sat, 01 Apr 2017 01:55:00 +0000
It’s normal for batters to chit-chat with the opposing team’s first baseman after a hit or a walk, but C.J. Cron of the Angels found it peculiar when the same topic kept coming up in conversations with Dodgers players in the first game of the Freeway Series in Angel Stadium on Thursday night.
“When they got to first, all the Dodgers were saying, ‘When did you guys switch to cream-colored pants?’ ” Cron said before Friday night’s game. “I’m like, ‘We didn’t, but we have new lights, and they’re trying to figure these things out.’ ”
The Angels this winter joined a growing list of major league teams to install a new LED lighting system, which is expected to improve visibility, reduce glare and shadows on the field and lower maintenance costs and energy usage.
The Seattle Mariners were the first team to install LED lights in 2015. The Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, New York Yankees and Houston Astros installed LED lights in 2016, and the Baltimore Orioles did so this season.
The first thing players noticed was that the new lights made their white uniform pants look cream-colored. Mike Trout noticed a theater-like effect from his position in center field.
“It seemed like it was darker in the stands,” Trout said. “They’re obviously different than last year. It’s going to take a few games to get used to them, and they’re definitely going to adjust them during these first couple of games and throughout the season. But I like them, for sure.”
Cron was one of several players who struggled to adjust to the new lights.
“I just don’t think they’re locked in yet,” the Angels first baseman said. “It could be because it was our first night game in seven months, but it just didn’t feel perfect. Something seemed a little off. I don’t think there’s supposed to be shadows at night.
“I guess they can tinker with them to get them where they need to be. I guess they’re going to be different [Friday] night. We’ll see if it’s any better.”
Manager Mike Scioscia said the team is working with stadium officials and lighting engineers to iron out any kinks in the system.
“I’m not sure about the technology,” Scioscia said, “but there all kinds of ways to adjust these lights.”
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said Angels third base coach Ron Roenicke turned to him in the sixth inning to say the lights were new and ask if he had any problems with them.
“I saw the ball fine,” Turner said.
Reliever Huston Street credited a platelet-rich plasma injection that he received 2 1/2 weeks ago with promoting the healing of an upper back strain that has sidelined him since early March. The veteran right-hander was cleared to begin a throwing program on Tuesday and could return by May.
“As an athlete, you want to know that it’s healed, and now I can start working confidently,” Street said. “We all play through a lot of stuff, but when you’re injured, you can be working in a negative direction. So we got good news [Thursday] that we’re working in a positive direction.”
Street, who is looking to rebound from an injury-plagued 2016 season in which he went 3-2 with a career-worst 6.45 earned-run average, must progress from flat-ground throwing to bullpen sessions and will need five to seven rehabilitation appearances before returning. He declined to place a target on that return.
“I’m not shooting for anything,” Street said. “I made the mistake last year of coming back too early from the oblique [injury]. That was my fault. You’re a competitor and you want to pitch. I learned a little bit from that mistake.”
Lower-back soreness sidelined Andrelton Simmons for the fifth straight game, but the shortstop completed a vigorous pregame workout Friday, and Scioscia said he “anticipates” that Simmons will play Saturday night. … Pitcher Matt Shoemaker, who underwent emergency brain surgery after being struck in the head by a line drive in Seattle last September, has decided to wear a small carbon-fiber piece of equipment, made by Safer Sports Technologies, inside the right side of his cap to help protect his head.
Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna
Published at Sat, 01 Apr 2017 01:50:00 +0000