Clippers keep making progress


Clippers forward Luc Mbah a Moute, left, talks to coach Doc Rivers during the first half against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. (Darren Abate / Associated Press)

Doc Rivers insisted yet again on Saturday night that the media has refused to pay heed to his message and to buy into his selling points on how his team has lifted its play in recent times.

So the Clippers coach felt it was best to reiterate those thoughts during his opening remarks following his team’s impressive victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Clippers pushed their winning streak to five consecutive games and have won nine of their last 11 games.

And Rivers wanted to make sure the media gathered around him at the AT&T Center in San Antonio acknowledged those feats that have put the Clippers in a good place.

“I’ve been saying it for 10 games. Some guys haven’t been hearing it,” said Rivers, referring to the media. “Really.”

It’s not that Rivers’ comments have been challenged by any means.

It’s just that some of the wins during the streak even made his players pause and the losses were cause for alarm.

And then there is the benchmark of the season, when the Clippers started off 14-2.

That was when they played their best basketball of the season, and it’s a level they are still striving to get back to.

Perhaps, it was suggested to some of the Clippers, they are now edging toward that seemingly long ago time when they had the best record in the NBA.

“No, I don’t think so. We’re closer,” Blake Griffin said Saturday night. “I thought defensively at the beginning of the season is really what set us apart. We’ve been better this stretch, but we can still be better.

“I thought our resolve at the beginning of the season was unbelievable. When teams would make a run, or it would be a close game, might not be a blowout, but we’d still kind of keep playing the same way and keep that spirit. So that’s what we’ve got to get back to.”

The Clippers have two games left in the regular season to see whether they reclaim the entire force they played with in November.

“I think we’re close, for sure,” J.J. Redick said Saturday night. “I don’t want to look too much into winning streaks. I think it’s just how you feel, sort of the spirit, and I feel like our spirit has gotten a lot better in the last couple of weeks.

“We had some bad losses there and then the Sacramento game and another one. But we’ve responded since that game.”

The Clippers have put themselves in position to have the home-court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs against postseason foe Utah.

L.A. only has to win its last two games and the Clippers will host Games 1 and 2 at Staples Center when the playoffs start next weekend.

“I think we had too many guys that care and too many guys that are good basketball players to not eventually start playing well,” Redick said. “I said this a couple of times last week. I don’t read anything like going into the playoffs. You’re playing well, but it doesn’t guarantee you anything in the playoffs. But I’d much rather be playing well than the opposite heading into the playoffs.”



When: 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: TNT; Radio: 1150, 1330.

Records: Clippers 49-31; Rockets 53-26 through Saturday.

Records vs. Rockets: Clippers 0-2.

Update: The Clippers allowed 131 points per game in the first two losses to the Rockets. James Harden, an MVP candidate, was tied for second in the league in scoring (29.2 points) before Sunday night’s game. The Rockets are second in the league in scoring (115.2).