Austin Rivers says the Clippers are a better, deeper team without Chris Paul

first_imgDefensively, the Clippers were superb, limiting the Lakers to 40.7 percent shooting (37 for 91).“I think we’re better this year, honestly,” Rivers said. “I know people don’t think that, but I think we’re a better team. I absolutely think we’re a better team than last year. Obviously, it’s only one game. We have 81 more to go.“I think we have more talent this year. Look how many pieces we got for one guy. We got a defensive dog (Patrick Beverley). We drafted well. We’ve got new rookies. We’ve got Sam Dekker. We’ve got Willie Reed. Who else? We’ve got Lou Williams.“We’ve got a way better team. We’re deeper. We defend better. We play faster. I don’t even see how it’s close. It’s tough. Chris is such an unbelievable player. People tend to write you off and I understand that, but I think we have a better team this year.”ON THE MENDRivers didn’t like his opening-night play against the Lakers, when he scored only two points and missed 10 of 11 shots in 26 minutes, 26 seconds. Rivers didn’t start, yielding to Milos Teodosic after sitting out for four of the Clippers’ five exhibitions because of a strained glute muscle.“I’ve got to get my rhythm,” said Rivers, who also sat out for six weeks in the offseason after coming down with mono. “I felt like I was playing basketball with no feel. It’ll come. … I was tired and a little out of shape. It’ll come. I’ll be better.”G LEAGUE ROSTERLaDontae Henton, Ike Iroegbu, Marshall Plumlee and Tyrone Wallace, who were with the Clippers during the preseason, will participate in their new Ontario-based G League team’s training camp, starting Monday at Cal Poly Pomona. What’s improved?“Our competitive spirit, our defense, our overall chemistry,” Rivers said. “We have a willing to pass the ball. We have a willingness to cheer people up. I had a rough game (Thursday against the Lakers). The whole bench was, like, ‘Keep your head up.’ Last year, I would have been on my own.“A lot of guys had rough games and we just stuck with it. That’s why we won by (16). Last year, if we would have had that bad of a game I don’t know what the score would have been. We still defended. We were still, like, ‘Next shot, next shot.’ It’s a different vibe here.”No question, the Clippers are a work in progress. Game 2 of their 82-game regular-season slog arrived Saturday at Staples Center with the Clippers attempting to clean up their act after a Game 1 victory over the Lakers revealed several flaws in their game.The Clippers didn’t shoot particularly well, making only 39.3 percent (42 of 107). They mishandled the ball at key times, committing 15 turnovers, which led to 13 points for the Lakers during a 108-92 win that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might have indicated. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Clippers’ Patrick Beverley gives rude welcome to Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball LOS ANGELES — Are the Clippers a better team without Chris Paul than they were with him for six seasons?Most observers would say, no. After spending the past six seasons as one of the top four teams in the hyper-competitive Western Conference, many have picked the Clippers to finish anywhere from sixth to eighth. Some have suggested they won’t make the playoffs without Paul.Related Articlescenter_img Photos: LA Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 108-92 Doc Rivers fires back at Chris Paul, who questions Clippers’ ‘culture’ Clippers guard Austin Rivers would disagree. Count him among those who believe the Clippers are deeper, more talented and more capable than when Paul was their point guard, before he was traded during the offseason to the Houston Rockets for a package of players.What’s changed?last_img