By Vincent Bonsignore
The last straw for the Clippers came in a home loss to Indiana nine days ago. April Fool’s, to be exact.
It was the Clippers third straight loss to finish a near month-long stretch in which they had muddled about no better than a .500 team.
Everything they’d built during the best regular-season in club history was on the verge of collapse. Home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, any sort of momentum heading in the postseason – all of it was slipping right through their fingers.
Worse, there was speculation their best two players – Blake Griffin and Chris Paul – were at odds.
It was a crossroads, to be sure.
And Paul and Griffin both sensed it, which is why they decided to sit down and talk to each other.
The gist of the conversation being the Clippers fate rested on their shoulders, and that their actions from that point on would set the tone for the entire team.
“We talked about how we always need to be on the same page. We always need to be communicating,” Griffin said. “Even if we might not have a good offensive game we can still contribute defensively and by passing the ball and in how we talk and how we lead during timeouts. Things like that, we can always do well. We always have control over those things.”
“It definitely starts with me and Blake,” Paul said “On the offensive end and the defensive end. When me and him are on the same page everyone else has no choice but to fall in line. Me and Blake realize we have to bring the energy every night and everyone else will feed off on it.”
The Clippers have won three straight games since the meeting, their defense picking up and their offense playing smoother and at a more up tempo pace in the process.
And at the perfect time, with four games remaining and a chance to grab home-court advantage from the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.
“We said enough is enough,” Paul said. “We were tired of losing and we didn’t want to back into the playoffs and we realized we controlled that. Not the coaches, not the media not anyone else. And we decided to pick it up.”
The key being, win or lose the Clippers want it to be on their terms.
“If we lose it can never be for a lack of effort,” Griffin said. “It has to be because the other team played better than us and that has to be our focus. To play with a lot of intensity and pace.”
The Clippers have done that the last three games.
Now they hope it continues.