Doc Rivers on verbal sparring: 'I hate when stuff goes unsaid'

PHOENIX -- The growth of a team can show itself in many different ways, and in Doc Rivers' eyes, watching Chris Paul and Blake Griffin argue on the court while the Clippers were up 23 points just before halftime of their 112-101 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday was an example of the team's growth.

"I hate when stuff goes unsaid," Rivers said. "They were upset over one of the plays. Blake was more upset at himself. I didn't mind it at all ... They were up huge and they were mad at a miscommunicated play, and I kind of like that.

"You need it. I would say a year ago whenever anybody got upset over a play or something no one talked to each other. This group has really grown. We're just so much better at that. That gives you a chance, and in the West, all you can ask for is a chance."

Paul and Griffin engaged in an animated discussion in front of the Clippers' bench after Griffin was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer with less than one second left in the first half. After teammates tried to mediate the conversation, Paul walked toward the bench and Griffin walked toward the court.

"Talk it out. Figure it out. Move on," was written on the whiteboard in the Clippers' locker room after the game.

"It's not about the other team; it's about us and what we're trying to do," Paul said. "I think it shows we're always trying to get it right."

Paul finished with 22 points and six assists while Griffin had 20 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. After the game he said he liked that he and Paul wanted to get things right instead of settling for the way they were playing.

"To me, personally, I think it's a great thing for two guys like that to not settle for being up by 23 going into the locker room," Griffin said. "It's probably a perfectionist thing on both of our parts, but I think it's a great thing. The fact that we're out there talking about that last play shows we've made a lot of growth as a team."

Griffin said the conversation "was about the last couple of plays" down the stretch of the first half.

"We always talk about how we can do a better job at the end of quarters and the end of halves," Griffin said. "Last night we had one, and sometimes, we're kind of on the edge of do we go or do we wait and we should have gotten into something quicker. I was spread waiting on him and he's looking on me, waiting on me; it's one of things we have to be on the same page. At the end of the day, it's not that big a thing."

Jamal Crawford was one of the players in between Paul and Griffin while they were talking and said it was the kind of conversation that wouldn't have been possible when they first became teammates.

"I think when you have your two best players having that kind of conversation and we're up 23 points in the last game of the season, it shows that we're not just playing for now; we're playing for the bigger picture," Crawford said. "It's good to be able to talk about things like that. You don't want one guy to go this way, the other guy to go that way and it festers. Those guys did a good job talking about it. I'm not sure they could have done that year one together, so the growth has happened."