Culver City Observer -

Now Those Daffy Clippers Are Winning

They Go 5-0 On A Trip Without Griffin

 

January 7, 2016



By Mitch Chortkoff

Sports Editor

The Clippers have earned a reputation for being a talented team that can’t close out games.

They blew a 19-point second half lead in their second round playoff series last season against the Houston Rockets, lost the game and then failed to reach the Western Conference Finals.

They lost two close games to the defending champion Golden State Warriors this season after coming close to a victory both times. In a game at Staples Center they were 20 points ahead. Then the Warriors caught up. The Clippers rallied to go 10 points ahead in the fourth quarter but the Warriors won.

Although the Clippers have this problem they often entertain fans as their two all-stars, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul lead the way.

But lately they’ve become quite unpredictable. On a road trip last week Griffin was injured on the first game of the journey, yet the Clippers won all the games without him.

It was the first time in franchise history the Clippers had swept a five-game trip.

I wanted to learn more about this so I talked to Coach Doc Rivers when the Clippers came home and improved their winning streak without Griffin to six games by defeating the Philadelphia 76ers.

The coach informed me of a startling statistic. ”In the last three years Chris missed some games once with an injury and Blake missed some games with an injury last season and again now. In those games the Clippers’ record is 26- 12.

So-called experts around the NBA have a hard time figuring out the Clippers. So do fans.

“Other guys have come through,” said Rivers.

Yes, coach, but they’re not the ones fans expected. Two high profile off-season acquisitions, Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith, haven’t upgraded their games as much as others.

Cole Aldrich, regarded as a capable backup center when he signed with the Clippers last summer, rarely got off the bench in the first 25 games but has suddenly emerged.

He has played so well that DeAndre Jordan can get more rest. Jordan was so fresh with less minutes that he made nine dunks against the 76ers, making nine of 10 shots.

Alldrich, best known for defense and rebounding, even has shown off a hook shot. He’s no Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with it but the ball goes in the basket.

Paul Pierce, an outstanding player with a long history of NBA success, has had some big games. He scored 24 points in one victory of the trip. When he plays well it’s not a surprise.

But when the Clippers acquired him last season there was a question of how good he’d be at an advanced age.

“Young players should study what he does and apply it,” said Rivers. “I don’t mean how he played when he was younger. I mean how he’s playing now.”

Despite the recent Clippers’ success without Griffin Rivers isn’t fooling himself.

“We’re a better team with Blake,” he said. “When he’s cleared by our medical staff to play we won’t rush him. “It’ too early in the season to do that. We need him healthy.”

So the daffy Clippers go on and on. Sometimes they disappoint their followers. Sometimes they amaze them.

 

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