Chris Paul sat out Sunday for the fourth consecutive game and for the seventh time in nine contests because of a bruised right kneecap, which meant Eric Bledsoe replaced him as the Clippers’ starting point guard for the fourth straight game and the seventh time in nine contests.
It’s uncertain when Paul will be sound enough to practice or play, with coach Vinny Del Negro saying there was no timetable for his return to active duty. Paul was injured when he knocked knees with J.J. Redick of the Orlando Magic on Jan. 12.
Here’s Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro explaining the decision to rest Chris Paul for Tuesday night’s showdown against the Oklahoma City Thunder:
“Chris Paul is not playing tonight. Well, he was feeling better. We got him through the Washington game and afterwards he was a little a bit sore, which we expected. He played last night, but it wasn’t really getting any better. You could kind of see he was dragging it out there. He was trying to fight through it. Chris is a tough guy and wants to be out there. We have to look at the big picture. We’ve got to kind of protect Chris, as well, and give him a little bit of rest.
The Clippers agreed to a 10-year extension of their lease at Staples Center on Tuesday, meaning they will stay put until at least June 2024. The team moved from its outdated home at the Sports Arena, playing its first game in Staples Center on Nov. 2, 1999.
“We’re very excited about our present and our future at Staples Center,” Clippers president Andy Roeser said in a statement issued by the team. “It is indeed an honor to benefit from the sustained stability that accompanies being part of the greatest venue in the NBA, and we’re glad to provide this state of the art backdrop to our deserving and loyal fan base.”
The Clippers join the Lakers and the NHL’s Kings as tri-tenants at Staples Center, the only such arrangement in North America. The Clippers considered a move to the Honda Center in Anaheim at one point before moving from the Sports Arena to Staples Center.
“Donald Sterling, Andy Roeser and the entire Clippers organization have been not just great partners, but a huge part of the success of Staples Center,” Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG, said of the Clippers’ owner. “Their contributions have served to make this unique three team anchor tenant relationship both mutually successful as well as mutually beneficial. We are happy for their many achievements and are proud to call them our partners and friends.”
Vinny Del Negro didn’t want to talk about personal milestones Wednesday night. He ignored a question about his 100th victory as the Clippers’ coach, a grinding 99-93 win over the Dallas Mavericks in front of a sellout crowd of 19,362 at Staples Center.
Chris Paul remembers what it was like when the Clippers weren’t a competitive team and Staples Center wasn’t filled to capacity and the building wasn’t electric from the excitement generated by close to 20,000 fans night after night after night.
“It was just a different mindset when you came here to town,” Paul said. “You felt like you were going to get a win. You felt like you could do whatever the night before and still be ready for the game. I don’t know (what they’re saying now). I don’t know. I don’t ask.”
Grant Hill couldn’t say for certain Tuesday whether he would play in the Clippers’ home game Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks. After a light practice Monday and a more strenuous one Tuesday, he made it sound as if it would only be a matter of time before he makes his long-delayed and much-anticipated 2012-13 debut.