Clippers eye fresh, winning chapter post-Sterling

Fri Oct 24, 2014 4:29pm EDT
 
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Emotionally battered after a racism scandal that left their previous owner Donald Sterling with a life ban, the Los Angeles Clippers can now script a fresh chapter as they aim to enhance their championship credentials.

With former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer now in charge and shrewd head coach Doc Rivers back at the helm, the franchise will strive to go at least one better after being ousted in the second round of the playoffs last season.

The Clippers have never reached a conference final despite advancing to the postseason 10 times but, with All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin established as team leaders, they are now viewed by many as genuine contenders for the NBA championship.

For Rivers, who joined the Clippers in mid-2013 after nine mainly successful years as coach of the Boston Celtics, improved defense will be a top priority for his team this season.

"When you're a high-scoring offensive team, you always fall back on, 'Well, we'll get a basket instead of getting a stop,' and I've always thought you can do both pretty good," Rivers said.

"Even our Boston teams, we didn't score a lot, but if you looked at our offensive efficiency numbers, we were in the top five. So it's proven you can do both."

Renowned for their fan-pleasing, 'Lob City' offense, the Clippers led the league in scoring last season as Rivers guided them to the best record in franchise history, at 57-25, and a second straight Pacific Division title.

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Sep 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, forward Blake Griffin (32),  guard Chris Paul (3), forward Matt Barnes (22), center DeAndre Jordan (6) and guard J.J. Redick (4) during media day at the training facility in Playa Vista. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports