Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 3/15/13
PLAYA VISTA, Calif. The Clippers are looking for something theyve lost, but finding it wont be easy. The energy and intensity they showed on defense early in the season isnt as apparent anymore, and regaining it will be important down the stretch. Their first chance will come Sunday afternoon against the New York Knicks at Staples Center. I think its intensity, Blake Griffin said Friday after practice. Its getting back to playing the aggressive style that we were playing with before. Thats what got it for us. Ive said it before, we made mistakes early in the season, but we were playing so aggressive that we could make up for them. Thats what we have to get back to. They didnt have it Wednesday night in an 11-point loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, and lately theyve shown an inability to beat some of the NBAs top teams, even the teams they defeated early in the season. For instance, they beat Miami in November but lost to the Heat last month. They beat San Antonio twice in November, then lost to the Spurs by 26 points on Feb. 21. They played Oklahoma City tough on two earlier occasions but were thumped by the Thunder two weeks ago. The loss to the Grizzlies followed two previous wins over Memphis, once on opening night and again in January. What are we, 10-4 in our last 14 games? coach Vinny Del Negro asked. But weve lost to four teams that were hopefully going to compete against in the playoffs and were all very uncomfortable with that. And when youre uncomfortable you have to do something about it. Thats a good thing. It gives you a chance to grow, to improve, to recognize things. The Clippers are expecting to get starting forward Caron Butler back after he missed the Memphis game with a strained left elbow. Butler took part in Fridays practice and said hes hopeful. I feel like its a strong possibility that I play Sunday, he said. Im feeling better every day, every treatment session, getting motion and strength back. Im feeling really good. The Clippers will have a chance to beat a hobbled Knicks team that played without Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire on Thursday night in a 105-90 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. All three are out with knee injuries; its uncertain if Anthony or Chandler will be available Sunday. The Knicks have lost three games in a row, but a Clippers win would be a welcome relief after the loss to Memphis. Its good were all a little irritated because we havent played our best against the top-tier teams lately, Del Negro said. But earlier in the season we were losing to teams we felt we should have beaten and we were beating some of the top teams. It goes back and forth. You add them up at the end of the season. Finding their lost energy would help. No one is sure where it went, but with the playoffs approaching, the Clippers will need to stoke their fire, and quickly. Asked where the intensity went, Griffin said, I dont know. I wish we had a pinpoint reason. Its not great, especially going down the stretch here. Were not playing terribly, but I feel like its one thing weve got to get over. Weve had it in spurts but we need to be able to bring it against teams that are the top-tier team. Well find it. The Clippers made a roster move Friday, signing forward DaJuan Summers to a 10-day contract. Summers, who played at Georgetown, average 18 points and 7.6 rebounds in 29 games for the Maine Red Claws of the NBAs D-League.
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