Exhausted Clippers Get Down To Their Final Hope
April 28, 2016
When the Clippers lost to the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night in Staples Center they became one defeat away from having their once-promising season come to an end.
Trailing three games to two in the best-of-seven first round NBA playoff series the Clippers needed to win both remaining games.
The deadline has arrived for this week’s Observer. Whether or not the Clippers were eliminated will be reported in next week’s paper.
After Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were injured in Game 4 Monday night and both were declared out for the remainder of the playoffs the Clippers had no room for any more serious problems.
But there was the matter of their task, trying to catch up to the Trail Blazers with a new-look starting five. The Clippers lost, 108-98
Paul Pierce, Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford joined the starting lineup, completing a unit that had started very little together all season.
The Clippers did OK in the first half but couldn’t sustain the effort after that.
Particularly when Blazer star Damian Lillard scored 16 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter.
“Our players were emotionally exhausted,” said Coach Doc Rivers. “I called a couple of early time outs but they were exhausted. That’s emotion.”
Two players being counted on for scoring, Crawford and Pierce, didn’t have good nights.
Crawford made only six of 23 shots. Center DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and 17 rebounds and Jeff Green scored 17 but the Clippers couldn’t take advantage of having the home court advantage.
Lillard thanked his teammates for encouraging him to shoot after he got off to a slow start.
“They kept telling me to keep shooting,” said Lillard. “Their encouragement meant a lot to me. ‘Throughout my NBA career I’ve tried to ignore what happened in the first three quarters when the fourth began.”
Lillard had been stopped in the first two games of the series by an aggressive Clippers defense. But scorers of his caliber often figure out how to combat extreme defensive tactics.
Lillard’s backcourt partner, C.J. McCollum, was the game’s high scorer with 28 points.
When Griffin was sidelined for 45 games this season with a broken hand and a quad injury the Clippers managed to win 35 of those games.
Paul had taken charge and exhibited his leadership and talent in all-star fashion.
But losing Paul in addition to Griffin was too much for the Clippers to overcome in the Game 5 loss.