Clippers’ Doc Rivers still unsure about Chris Paul’s availability for Game 3

Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul signals from the sidelines during the first half of Game 1 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Houston Rockets, Monday, May 4, 2015, in Houston. Chris Paul is out for game 1 with a strained left hamstring. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul signals from the sidelines during the first half of Game 1 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Houston Rockets, Monday, May 4, 2015, in Houston. Chris Paul is out for game 1 with a strained left hamstring. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Less than a week ago, Chris Paul left a lasting impression by securing a first-round series on a game-winning bank shot while hobbling a strained left hamstring.

Since then, the only images of Paul has entailed sitting on the Clippers’ bench in dapper clothing, while mentoring his teammates. Behind the scenes, however, Paul has furiously worked to heal his hamstring so he can help the Clippers break a 1-1 series tie when they host the Houston Rockets for Game 3 on Friday at Staples Center.

“I think everything is going well,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Thursday on a conference call. “But we still don’t know anything about tomorrow yet.”
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Houston’s Corey Brewer fined $5,000 for flopping in Game 2 win over Clippers

The NBA fined Houston Rockets forward Corey Brewer $5,000 on Thursday for flopping in the team’s Game 2 win over the Clippers on Thursday at Toyota Center.

Replays showed that Brewer dramatically fell backwards and landed on floor underneath the basket after Clippers guard Lester Hudson mildly pushed him away during an inbounds play. Hudson was called for the foul on the call.

The monetary penalties for flopping increase with each offense in the playoffs, including fines worth $10,000 (second offense), $15,000 (third offense) and $30,000 (fourth offense). A fifth violation could prompt the NBA to punish with both an increased fine and suspension.

The NBA defines flopping “as any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the
referees to call a foul on another player.” The league mostly determined if a player committed a flop based on whether “their physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.”

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Austin Rivers has been Clippers’ x-factor in playoff games
Without Chris Paul, Clippers fall 115-109 to Houston Rockets in Game 2

Follow L.A. Daily News’ Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 115-109 Game 2 loss to the Rockets

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

– Remember Game 1 when the Rockets held a 13-point lead in the second quarter and the Clippers came back and got them? Well, the Clippers held a 13-point lead early in the third quarter of this one, and the Rockets came back and got them. It just goes to show how quickly the momentum can change. That’s why staying focused on the task at hand 100 percent of the time is so darn important. Think about it. The Clippers outscored the Rockets 41-21 in the second quarter and once they took that 13-point lead, they appeared almost a cinch to come back to L.A. up 2-0 in the series. They had all the momentum, the Rockets appeared bewildered and their fans were really bummed out. Poof, just like magic, the Rockets started to roll.

Jamal Crawford had his fourth poor shooting night in nine playoff games. He made just 6 of 22 from the field, 1 of 8 from 3-point range. He is now shooting 37.3 percent in the postseason, just 21.7 percent (10 of 46) from 3-point range. He has to be better. He did have five rebounds and five assists to go with his 19 points.

– The Clippers were whistled for 40 personal fouls to 27 for Houston. The Rockets were 42 of 64 (65.6 percent) from the free-throw line, the Clippers 25 of 32 (78.1 percent). Doc Rivers did not blast the officials afterward, but he jokingly said, “They shot 117 free throws tonight.” Some of them were because of intentional fouls.

Blake Griffin scored 26 points in the first half on 11 of 14 shooting and appeared on his way to 40 points or more. But he was just 2 of 9 in the second half for eight points and a total of 34. Sure, Griffin still had a solid game. The Rockets made some adjustments, the Clippers kept going to Griffin and the results were not good.

– If the Clippers had won this game to take a 2-0 series lead, we might have been saying the Clippers could afford to set Chris Paul one more game to make sure he’s good for the next round. But if he’s close to 100 percent, he needs to play because the Clippers needs him – plain and simple. And he will because he has plenty of heart. This was a season-saving victory for the Rockets. And if they steal one at Staples Center, they’ll have back their homecourt advantage and that could be dangerous.

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Clippers outscore Rockets 41-21 in second quarter to lead 65-56 at break

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers trailed by 11 points at 35-24 after one quarter Wednesday night in Game 2 against the host Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. But the Clippers roared back to outscore the Rockets by 20 points (41-21) in the second quarter to take a 65-56 lead into the halftime break.

This, without Chris Paul, who remains out with a left hamstring strain.

Blake Griffin was unbelievably good. He scored 26 points on 11 of 14 shooting. He also grabbed five rebounds and doled out three assists.

DeAndre Jordan contributed 10 points even though he didn’t play much of the first quarter after getting two quick fouls. Lester Hudson came through with two big baskets and five points.

The Rockets, who got 16 points from Dwight Howard and 12 from James Harden in the half, continued their turnovers trend with 10. Harden, who had nine in Monday’s Game 1 loss to the Clippers, had five of those.

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Chris Paul to miss his second consecutive game with hamstring strain

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

As soon as Clippers coach Doc Rivers walked into the interview room for the pregame news conference ahead of Game 2 at Toyota Center in Houston on Wednesday night, the question was posed: will Chris Paul play?

“No Chris tonight,” Rivers said.

Rivers said at the morning shootaround he doubted Paul, who is suffering from a strained left hamstring, would be able to go.

“I thought it, but then watching him, no,” Rivers said. “He’s not moving well, so …”

Rivers was asked about his level of concern.

“It concerns me, yeah,” he said. “But again, we have a couple of more days and we’ll see. He’s moving better today than he was, so that’s a good sign. But not good enough to play a basketball game.”

Rivers said the notion that it was easier to sit Paul again because his team won Game 1 on Monday – without Paul – was incorrect.

“No, if he can play, he would play,” Rivers said. “You’ve gotta win four.”

Paul shot free throws and did some work in a swimming pool Wednesday and said he felt good doing that. But he didn’t try to talk his coach into letting him play.

“Nah, he knew it,” Rivers said.

Game 3 is Friday at Staples Center.

“Yeah, yeah,” Rivers said, when asked if he believes Paul will play in this series. “I just don’t know when. I don’t know if I’m discouraged or encouraged about Game 3. But we’re just going to have to take it day by day.”

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Doc Rivers doubts Chris Paul will be able to play in Game 2 against the Rockets; Paul not sure, either

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

Today is Chris Paul’s 30th birthday, so Clippers coach Doc Rivers used his knowledge of that when he was asked about an update on Paul at the Wednesday morning shootaround ahead of Game 2 against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center in Houston. Paul did not play in the Clippers’ 117-101 Game 1 victory because of a strained left hamstring sustained in Game 7 of the Clippers’ first-round series with the San Antonio Spurs.

“It’s his birthday, so that’s the update,” Rivers said.

But will he play?

“Yeah, we’re going to see,” Rivers said. “I pretty much doubt it, to be honest, just from talking to him. But we’ll see how he moves around and we’ll go from there.”

Paul, dressed in practice gear, was next. He seemed a bit more optimisitic about his chances of playing.

“Yeah, I’m going to see how I feel this morning here at walk-through and get with the training staff and we’ll see,” he said.

Paul was asked how difficult it is to make a decision to play or not to play. If it’s the wrong decision, as Rivers noted before Game 1, that could put Paul out for the series.

“It’s really tough,” Paul said, “especially with the way that I play, and it’s only one way I know how to play. And it’s one of those things where you don’t want to make it any worse than it already is.”

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H-Town became Turnover City on Monday, with teams combining for 44

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

For 2 hours and 43 minutes Monday, H-Town was Turnover City. The host Houston Rockets committed 23 player turnovers, the Clippers 21 in their 117-101 Game 1 victory. Clippers sixth-man Jamal Crawford handled the ball more than usual because of the absence of the injured Chris Paul (hamstring), whose starting spot was taken by Austin Rivers. Crawford had six turnovers in just over 16 minutes in the first half.

He had none in just about another 16 minutes of the second half.

“We weren’t playing well, honestly,” Crawford said of the first half. “We thought they played well, but we turned the ball over too much, me specifically. They trapped me a lot and I hadn’t seen that too much, so I had to adjust in the second half. I promised my teammates and coach I wouldn’t get anymore.”

Perhaps Crawford shouldn’t feel too badly. The Rockets’ James Harden had nine turnovers and this week he finished second to Golden State’s Steph Curry in the MVP voting.

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If Rockets did not have energy in Game 1, how did they build 13-point lead?

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin had a triple-double in the Clippers’ 117-101 Game 1 victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday night. He scored 26 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and doled out 13 assists.

 

It was kind of interesting to hear the Rockets talk about their lack of energy after their 117-101 Game 1 loss to the Clippers on Monday night at Toyota Center in Houston. Yet, they seemed very energetic while building a 13-point lead early in the second quarter, at which time the Rockets’ fans were going wild.

Could it be that the Clippers simply took Houston’s energy away? Blake Griffin didn’t say exactly that, but there was that intimation.

“I don’t know if I would say they lacked energy,” he said Tuesday at the team hotel just down the street from the arena in downtown Houston. “I thought they had pretty good energy early on. Like you said, they had the 13-point lead and I thought we just stayed with it.

“I thought we just kind of, like I keep saying, just trusted ourselves and kept going.”

Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals series is Wednesday night at 6:30.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 117-101 Game 1 victory over Houston

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

Blake Griffin took charge in the absence of point guard Chris Paul, who sat out Game 1 with a hamstring injury sustained in Game 7 of the Clippers’ first-round victory over San Antonio, won by the hobbled Paul with a last-second shot. Griffin had his second consecutive triple-double, going for 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists. Doesn’t get much better than that. Yes, he had five turnovers. Big deal. The man was the point forward out there and handled the ball a lot.

– Good job by J.J. Redick. He had zero points in the first half, missing all four of his field-goal attempts – three of those from the 3-point line. He scored 17 points in the second half, going 6 of 9 – 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

– Terrific game by Matt Barnes. He scored 20 points on 8 of 11 from the field – 3 of 6 from beyond the arc. He also had five rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocked shots. Other than that, he didn’t do a thing. He also got into some verbal sparring with Rockets fans. That’s never good, but you have just got to love the emotion with which he plays. Barnes also had a fine showing in Game 7 against the Spurs. If he stays on a roll, and Paul comes back healthy, the Clippers will likely have too many weapons for the Rockets.

– It was kind of interesting that on a night when Rockets fans were chanting “MVP, MVP,” when James Harden made a shot, Harden had nine turnovers. That’s an enormous amount for one game by a player of his stature. Harden did have 20 points, 12 assists and four steals. But some of that was negated by his inability to take care of the ball. Harden this week finished second to Golden State’s Steph Curry in the MVP voting.

– Griffin wasn’t the only player to pick up the slack in Paul’s absence. Jamal Crawford scored 18 points with five rebounds, four assists and two steals while handling the ball more than usual. He did have six turnovers. DeAndre Jordan had 10 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks. And Austin Rivers, son of Doc, started in Paul’s place and went for 17 points. He only had three assists, but he came up with four steals. This is what you call a team pulling together when it’s quarterback was not available to guide them.

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