Five things to take from Clippers’ 98-92 overtime victory over 76ers

Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul (3) goes up for the shot with Philadelphia 76ers' Nerlens Noel (4) defending during overtime of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Philadelphia. The Clippers won 98-92 in overtime.

Chris Paul goes up for a shot while Nerlens Noel of Philadelphia defends/AP photo by Chris Szagola

 

– This is the second consecutive game in which Chris Paul got off to a horrible start shooting the ball. He began 1 of 7 and finished 5 of 18, 0 of 3 from 3-point range. He did make 9 of 10 from the free-throw line, doled out seven assists and made four steals. In Sunday’s win at Miami, Paul started 0 of 9 before finishing 8 of 23 from the field.

DeAndre Jordan had a dominant performance inside, pulling down 21 rebounds to go along with scoring 12 points and blocking three shots. Jordan is now averaging 14.0 rebounds and he’s inching closer to Andre Drummond of Detroit, who is averaging a league-high 14.9.

J.J. Redick showed good recovery skills in this game. He started by making just 1 of 9 from the field, but made six of his final nine shots to finish 7 of 18 with 23 points. Redick hit a 3-point basket with 10 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

– The Clippers shot a very poor 36.8 percent from the field, a woeful 22.7 percent (5 of 22) from 3-point range. Wesley Johnson was the worst offender, shooting just 3 of 13, 1 of 7 from beyond the arc. Although the Clippers did well to come back from 19 points down in the second quarter, if they had played anyone other than the 76ers (8-44) – the team with the league’s worst record – they don’t win.

– With Austin Rivers (fractured hand) on the shelf, the bench was not at full strength. Jamal Crawford picked up the slack by scoring 23 points on 9 of 21 shooting in 39 minutes. He also had three assists and two steals.

BONUS TAKE: The Clippers (35-17) are now 18-4 without Blake Griffin (fractured hand).

Chris Paul knows how important this trip is for the Clippers

 

DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers, left, gets ready to go up for a shot while being defended by Orlando’s Aaron Gordon during Friday’s game won by the Clippers/AP photo by John Raoux

 

Considering how well the Clippers have done since Blake Griffin went out, the last thing they want is to ruin their work by going into a slump before the All-Star break. That’s why Friday’s 107-93 victory at Orlando was big, especially considering the Clippers were coming off an unlikely loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday at Staples Center.

“We just tried to come into the game focused and understand how important this trip is for us going into the break,” said point guard Chris Paul, who scored 21 points, doled out six assists, made four steals but committed six turnovers. “We tried to play with a sense of urgency and that is what we did.”

The Clippers – 16-4 without Griffin – next play Sunday morning at 11 at Miami (29-22). The Clippers (33-17) will play at Philadelphia on Monday and finish the trip Wednesday at Boston.

“We have to keep it going,” Paul said. “At the end of the day, it’s about wins and losses. It is a good win for us and now we have to go to Miami.”

The Clippers return from the All-Star break to play host to San Antonio on Feb. 18 and Golden State on Feb. 20.

Doc Rivers downplays his Coach of the Month award

Doc Rivers/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill

 

Doc Rivers this week was named Western Conference Coach of the Month by the NBA. Not only did the Clippers go 11-3 in January, they of course did it without the services of leading scorer Blake Griffin.

Rivers is not one to jump for joy over such an accolade, and he gave credit to everyone but himself.

“It doesn’t mean much,” Rivers said. “It means that our team is playing well. I was surprised I got it. I mean, I figured someone else had a better record or did something better. But it’s nice, obviously, whenever you get an award. It usually means that your players are really, really playing well, you’re staff’s doing well.”

Rivers said he found out about the award, which was announced Monday, when his phone started making noise that morning.

“It’s funny, I get all these texts and I’m like, ‘Who in the heck’s texting me?’ ” he said. “And then I actually had to read them. And that even made it worse. But it’s nice when you ever get anything.”

Doc Rivers would love to talk only about basketball, but Blake Griffin drama standing in the way of that

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

Although L.A. Clippers coach Doc Rivers would love to just talk about basketball, that won’t happen until the Blake Griffin saga is resolved. That will materialize when Griffin’s punishment is meted out for him punching team assistant equipment manager Matias Testi on Jan. 23 in Toronto, Griffin sustaining a fractured right hand.

The word had not come down as of Tuesday morning.

“The league hasn’t said anything yet,” said Rivers, whose team will host the Minnesota Timberwolves (14-35) on Wednesday night at 7:30 at Staples Center. “We’re just waiting and we’ll figure it out when it’s done.”

Rivers answered every inquiry, if grudgingly. He said Griffin might go with the team on its upcoming four-game road trip that begins Friday in Orlando. He intimated that will depend on whether Griffin’s punishment is doled out by then.

Rivers said Testi is “doing good” and said he had not heard that Testi – according to a story on ESPN.com that cited sources – has been having debilitating headaches since the incident.

“No, I don’t know where you guys get these reports,” Rivers said.

Rivers was also asked what the locker-room dynamic might be like upon the return of Griffin and Testi.

“Just so you know, in the NBA, these things happen,” Rivers said. “I swear this is not the first time this has ever happened. It’s happened with players in practice and they tend to heal up, they tend to get better. So I know you guys want to stay on this. I swear we’ve got a basketball (team) to talk about. It’s going to be healed, it’s going to be OK.”

Bottom line, Rivers said, other than the discipline, this is a dead issue.

“Honestly, it’s over with, as far as we’re concerned,” he said. “The only thing is we have to get the punishment from the league and see where we’re going and then other than that, we’re good.”

The Clippers (32-16) have gone 15-3 without Griffin, who hasn’t played since Christmas as the fractured hand was preceded by a quad injury.

How long will it take Blake Griffin to get shooting stroke back?

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

Blake Griffin and team assistant equipment manager Matias Testi were absent from Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center. Griffin fractured his right hand when he punched Testi on Jan. 23 at a Toronto restaurant.

Including the five weeks he has already missed because of a quad tendon injury, Griffin will be out at least a total of two months before he gets back, and probably longer, because of the hand fracture. Then, how long will it take him to get his shooting stroke back, being it’s his shooting hand?

“I don’t know,” coach Doc Rivers said. “Obviously, not being able to shoot for a long period of time has to have an impact on you. Especially Blake, he’s a guy that works on his shot so much every day that going through this stretch of not shooting has to have some kind of impact.

“But I don’t know how long it’s going to take. We’ll see. If it just comes down to work, he’ll be fine, because no one works harder.”

Griffin is shooting 50.8 percent from the field and is averaging 23.2 points. He had already missed 17 consecutive games before Sunday, with the Clippers going 14-3 in them.

Jamal Crawford talks about getting through latest adversity

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

The Clippers on Friday defeated the Lakers 105-93 at Staples Center. That means the Clippers have gone 14-3 without Blake Griffin, who will now be out at least another month after fracturing his right hand when he punched out team assistant equipment manager Matias Testi this past Saturday in Toronto.

Jamal Crawford scored 15 points for the Clippers (31-16) on Friday. Afterward, he spoke about getting through this controversy in one piece.

“I think it would be difficult if we were a younger team,” he said. “Since we have veterans and high-IQ guys, we are able to adjust on the fly. At the end of the day, we play for each other.

“It can be somebody’s night one night and not somebody’s night the next. But that is just part of being a team.”