Chris Paul says everybody has to step up in light of all the team’s injuries

Chris Paul

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

 

It was Sunday afternoon and Chris Paul and the Clippers had just been routed by the Oklahoma City Thunder 131-108 at OKC. It was the Clippers’ fourth consecutive loss and gave them a record of 2-5 on this Grammy road trip that ends Monday evening at Dallas.

Paul spoke briefly about the loss itself.

“Tough, tough loss,” said Paul, who then touched on the loss of Blake Griffin, who Monday is slated to have surgery to remove a staph infection from his right elbow; he’ll be out until sometime after the All-Star break.

“Tough losing Blake,” Paul said. “We will try to regroup and get ready for the next one.”

Paul was asked if he now has a burden to step up even more with all the injuries; shooting guard J.J. Redick has missed the past three games with back spasms.

“No, it’s just going to be tough,” Paul said. “It’s going to be tough. Everybody has to step up and get ready for Dallas.”

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 131-108 loss Sunday at Oklahoma City

Blake Griffin

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

- First and foremost, we have to acknowledge that the Clippers were without Blake Griffin, who has a staph infection in his right elbow and will have surgery Monday to get rid of it. He’s out until sometime after the All-Star break, the team said, and he has been replaced on the
Western Conference All-Star squad by Portland guard Damian Lillard. Staph infections are no laughing matter and can get serious.

- The losing streak has now reached four. The Clippers had not even lost three in a row under Doc Rivers since Rivers took over at the beginning of the 2013-14 campaign.

- Being that the Clippers (33-19) were such a depleted squad with Griffin out and starting shooting guard J.J. Redick missing his third consecutive game with back spasms – not to mention reserve forward Glen “Big Baby” Davis going down hard and playing just six minutes because of back spasms – it’s no surprise the Clippers did not play well on defense. The Thunder (26-25) shot 52.3 percent from the field, 40 percent (8 of 20) from 3-point range. OKC’s percentage would have been considerably higher had Russell Westbrook (19 points) not brought it down with a 6-for-19 shooting performance; Serge Ibaka made just 3 of 11, for that matter.

- Lost in the one-sided defeat no doubt will be the game had by point guard Chris Paul. He scored 18 points on 7 of 13 shooting with 13 assists, six rebounds, three steals and just one turnover in 36 minutes. The only negative was an 0-for-4 shooting day from 3-point range.

- Another good thing was the game had by Spencer Hawes, who started for Griffin. A starter much of his career before coming off the bench here in his first season for the Clippers, Hawes has struggled as a reserve. He scored 17 points. They were all in the first half, though. Still, he made 7 of 16 from the field, 2 of 5 from 3-point range. But he only had one rebound and that’s not going to cut if assuming he starts for Griffin until Griffin comes back. That’s one rebound in 35 minutes for a 7-foot player. The Clippers were outrebounded 54-29.

 

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Chris Paul fined $25,000 for comments made about referee Lauren Holtkamp

Chris Paul

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

 

Chris Paul has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for comments he made about rookie referee Lauren Holtkamp after the Clippers’ 105-94 loss Thursday at Cleveland, it was announced Saturday by Rod Thorn, president of basketball operations for the NBA.

Here’s what Paul said regarding the technical foul Holtkamp assessed him in the third quarter of that game, as told to ESPN.com:

“I think we have to show better composure, but at the same time some of (the technical fouls] were ridiculous. The tech that I get right there was ridiculous. I don’t care what nobody says, I don’t care what she says; that’s terrible. There’s no way that can be a tech. We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court, and when we did that, she said, ‘Uh-uh.’ I said, ‘Why, uh-uh?’ And she gave me a tech. That’s ridiculous. If that’s the case, this might not be for her.”

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Clippers beaten by 16 in Toronto after holding a 20-point lead in first quarter

Blake Griffin

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

 

The Clippers on Friday night led by 20 points in the first quarter at Toronto. When the final horn sounded, they had been defeated 123-107 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

When Spencer Hawes made a 3-point basket with 2:33 to play in the first quarter, the Clippers led 30-20. When Toronto’s Greivis Vasquez made a 3-pointer with 5:52 to play in the game, the Raptors led by 24 points at 119-95. That’s a 44-point turn-around  in less than three quarters of play.

The Clippers (33-18) have now lost three consecutive games and four of five.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 26 points with nine assists and six rebounds. Chris Paul scored 22 and also had nine assists and six rebounds and Jamal Crawford scored 20.

The Clippers were again without starting shooting guard J.J. Redick (back spasms). Austin Rivers started in his place and scored 11 points with four steals and two assists.

Toronto (34-17) got 24 points from DeMar DeRozan, 21 from Kyle Lowry,18 from Louis Williams and 16 from James Johnson.

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Report: Michele Roberts, executive director of NBPA, has Chris Paul’s back

Chris Paul

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

 

Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, on Friday released a statement declaring her support for Chris Paul regarding Paul’s post-game comments Thursday after a loss at Cleveland.

The Clippers were whistled for five technical fouls in the game. One, against Paul in the third quarter called by rookie referee Lauren Holtkamp, drew the ire of Paul and he pulled no punches afterward.

“I think we have to show better composure, but at the same time some of (the technical fouls) were ridiculous,” Paul told ESPN.com afterward. “The tech that I get right there was ridiculous. I don’t care what nobody says, I don’t care what she says; that’s terrible. There’s no way that can be a tech. We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court, and when we did that, she said, ‘Uh-uh.’ I said, ‘Why, uh-uh?’ And she gave me a tech. That’s ridiculous. If that’s the case, this might not be for her.”

The notion that Paul might have been guilty of sexism was shot down by Roberts with this statement that ran in a follow-up story on ESPN.com Friday afternoon:

“Any suggestion that Chris Paul would ever conduct himself in a disrespectful manner towards women is utterly ridiculous, outrageous and patently false,” Roberts said. “His personal management team, which includes several accomplished women who play a major role in virtually all of his business affairs is, alone, evidence of that fact.”

Paul is president of the NBPA and was a big proponent of Roberts’ election to executive director in 2014. Roberts became the first female to lead a major men’s professional sport’s union in North America.

“The Players Association is a strong Exhibit B,” her statement Friday continued. “Anyone paying attention is aware that Chris and his executive committee colleagues were instrumental in making me the first woman executive director of a major men’s professional sports union. Further, Chris and the committee were nothing but wholly supportive of my recent hire of Chrysa Chin – a woman – as the NBPA’s first ever executive vice president of strategy and development.”

Roberts’ response came after the National Basketball Referees Association came with this statement:

“The NBRA has carefully reviewed the calls made by Lauren Holtkamp and deems them fully justified,” NBRA general counsel Lee Seham said in a statement. “Furthermore, the NBRA deplores the personal and unprofessional comments made by Chris Paul. She belongs.”

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Relax, Chris Paul is not the type to call out a referee just because of gender

Chris Paul

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

 

OK, so once again here is what Chris Paul said following his team’s loss at Cleveland on Thursday, a loss that saw the Clippers whistled for five technical fouls. One of them was on Paul in the third quarter:

“I think we have to show better composure, but at the same time some of (the technical fouls) were ridiculous,” Paul told ESPN.com. “The tech that I get right there was ridiculous. I don’t care what nobody says, I don’t care what she says; that’s terrible. There’s no way that can be a tech. We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court, and when we did that, she said, ‘Uh-uh.’ I said, ‘Why, uh-uh?’ And she gave me a tech. That’s ridiculous. If that’s the case, this might not be for her.”

The “her” Paul was referring to was rookie referee Lauren Holtkamp. Now, I’m not going to go on and on about this because it is the opinion here that this is more of a non-story than anything. First of all, Paul had to say “her” because Holtkamp is a female. That doesn’t mean Paul was insinuating that perhaps “this might not be for her” just because Holtkamp is a woman. It could be he just thinks Holtkamp was way too quick on the trigger and perhaps does not belong in the league if she’s going to continue being that way.

Or do I have to remind people that Paul was a big proponent of Michele Roberts being named executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. Here is a July 29, 2014 story from ESPN.com the day of her election, in which Paul is quoted:

“Today, we started out by telling the players how monumental today was,” said Paul, the president of the players association. “We’ve never had this amount of players here for a meeting, to give their input and feedback. After all the hours and time (put in by) our executive committee, along with an amazing search committee that helped throughout this process, it’s an unbelievable feeling to have the wonderful Michele Roberts now as a part of our team.”

Sure, these are different things. Roberts is an executive in a males-only league and Holtkamp is on the floor having something to do with the outcome because she’s a game official. But as someone who has gotten to know Paul over the past couple of seasons as the Clippers’ beat writer for this newspaper, I can tell you that Paul is just not the type to hold gender against someone. That is not him. He is not a sexist pig.

To anyone thinking otherwise, forget about it. Let it go. There is nothing to this, other than frustration from a player whose team is struggling to live up to its lofty preseason expectations.

 

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Five things to take from Clippers’ lopsided loss Thursday at Cleveland

Chris Paul

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

 

- The Clippers received a total of five technical fouls in this one. Sure, some seemed a bit quick. But these guys bark more at referees than probably anybody in the league. Afterward, Chris Paul was caught criticizing rookie referee Lauren Holtkamp, who T’d up Paul early in the third quarter when he was trying to take the ball out quickly. “I think we have to show better composure, but at the same time some of (the technical fouls] were ridiculous,” Paul told ESPN.com afterward. “The tech that I get right there was ridiculous. I don’t care what nobody says, I don’t care what she says; that’s terrible. There’s no way that can be a tech. We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court, and when we did that, she said, ‘Uh-uh.’ I said, ‘Why, uh-uh?’ And she gave me a tech. That’s ridiculous. If that’s the case, this might not be for her.”

- Forget the score (105-94). This was a 30-point loss, period. The Clippers were down 31 after three quarters and only garbage time when their reserves outscored Cleveland’s made this score somewhat respectable. Bottom line is, the Clippers were beaten every which way by a Cavs team that has now won 12 concecutive games.

- Don’t think for a second that this blowout loss didn’t have at least something to do with what happened Monday in Brooklyn when the Clippers blew a nine-point lead with 1:46 to play and lost 102-100 to the host Nets. Talk about a hangover.

- Two of the Clippers’ technical fouls were against Matt Barnes, and he was ejected from the game after his second in the third quarter. Barnes now is tied for the league lead in technicals with 11. Russell Westbrook of OKC and Markieff Morris of Phoenix also have 11 apiece.

- The Clippers were not helped by the absence of J.J. Redick, who missed the game with back spasms. That meant sixth-man Jamal Crawford had to start for Redick. Crawford shot 6 of 14 from the field and Paul was just 4 of 14, meaning the two starting guards shot a combined 10 of 28 from the field (35.7 percent). That’s not going to cut it in most games.

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Kenny Smith, Marv Albert believe native New Yorkers still into All-Star game in spite of stuggles by Knicks, Nets

Kenny Smith/Photo by ESPN.com

 

Analyst Kenny Smith and play-by-play man Marv Albert are from New York City – Smith from Queens, Albert from Brooklyn. The two were part of a TNT conference call Thursday morning promoting the Feb. 15 All-Star game, which will be played at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Clippers Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will be representing the Western Conference.

One subject broached centered on the notion that since the New York Knicks (10-39) and the Brooklyn Nets (20-28) are struggling, that could lessen the interest in the game in the greater New York area? Neither Smith nor Albert buy that.

“Being a New Yorker, regardless of what the Knicks or the Nets are doing, the city is the mecca of basketball,” said Smith, who played 10 years in the NBA. “There are basketball courts every four blocks throughout the city. Everyone plays the game and everyone thinks they have knowledge of the game. It’s a city game. We own that, and we relish the fact that we are that.”

Albert spoke in similar tones.

“It’s still the mecca of basketball and players get excited about playing there,” said Albert, who will be working his 20th All-Star game. “The place, the site, has such a rich history and the fans are so knowledgeable; although this is not that type of game; it’s more schoolyard with guys throwing stuff off backboards until it gets interesting.”

 

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Chris Paul bemoans Clippers’ latest show of inconsistency after loss to Nets

Jarrett Jack of Brooklyn hits the game-winning shot over DeAndre Jordan on Monday in Brooklyn/Photo by Associated Press

 

Point guard Chris Paul had 20 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, three steals and three turnovers in Monday’s 102-100 loss at Brooklyn. The Clippers held a nine-point lead with 1:46 before melting down.

Paul afterward was queried about the Clippers’ up-and-down nature, something that has been a rather regular topic for a team that still has a fine record of 33-16.
“Yeah, it’s bad,” Paul said late Monday. “It’s sort of like the Super Bowl last night. If we win, it would have been a different story. The Clippers would have been doing really well on this road trip. Then we didn’t, so there it goes.”

The Clippers are 2-2 on this eight-game Grammy road trip. The most difficult part of the trip remains. They play Friday at Cleveland (30-20), Friday at Toronto (33-16), Sunday at Oklahoma City (24-24) and Monday at Dallas (33-17).

 

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 108-103 loss Friday at New Orleans

Eric Gordon, guarded by J.J. Redick, puts up a shot. He scored 28 points in New Orleans’ victory over the Clippers on Friday/Photo by Associated Press

 

- The Clippers have been playing well, so it’s hard to take a shot at them. But to lose this one when New Orleans did not have forward Anthony Davis (groin injury) – one of the top players in the league – has to be tough for them to take. That was Davis cheering from the bench as his team was securing the victory. The Pelicans are 2 1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, so they are very hungry.

- The setback cost the Clippers (32-15) in the Western Conference standings. They went from being tied for third with Houston and Portland to tied for fourth with Portland, now a game behind third-place Houston, 2 1/2 games behind second-place Memphis and 5 1/2 behind frontrunning Golden State.

- The Clippers did not guard the 3-point line as well as they could have. The Pelicans shot 52 percent (13 of 25) from beyond the arc and that is not going to cut it. Forward Ryan Anderson and guard Eric Gordon, in particular, torched the Clippers from there. Anderson made 5 of 11 from 3-point range and Gordon was 5 of 7 as he went for a game-high 28 points. The Clippers, on the other hand, made just 25 percent (7 of 28) from long-distance.

- One could also say the Pelicans won this game from the free-throw line. They shot 26 free throws and made 23 for a whopping 88.5 percent. The Clippers, one of the more inferior free-throw shooting teams in tne league, made 12 of 17 for 70.6 percent. DeAndre Jordan was 0 of 2.

- It’s difficult to take a lot of positives from a road loss against a middle-of-the-road team missing its best player. But Chris Paul had a terrific game. He scored a team-high 24 points with seven assists, eight rebounds and three steals while shooting 10 of 20.

BONUS TAKE: The Clippers were outrebouned 51-38 by a team that, again, was sans Davis, who averages a team-high 10.4 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan had 15, Blake Griffin only four. Remember, Paul had eight and at 6-foot he’s 10 inches shorter than Griffin.

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