Doc Rivers praises Kobe Bryant, Warriors and then talks Portland

Warriors Clippers Basketball

Clippers coach Doc Rivers shouts at a referee during the Clippers’ 115-112 loss to Golden State on Feb. 20 at Staples Center/AP photo by Danny Moloshok


Clippers coach Doc Rivers’ second team had just lost 114-105 in Wednesday’s regular-season finale at Phoenix, when he was asked to talk about the Portland Trail Blazers. The Clippers (53-29) and Portland (44-38) will tangle in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, beginning Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center.

Rivers at first went off topic, and for good reason.

“Portland?” he said. “We really should be talking about Kobe right now. We REALLY should be talking about Golden State first, but what Kobe is doing right now is amazing. I think we’re going to try to sign him to a 10-day. It was really cool.”

Rivers was speaking of the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant scoring 60 points in his farewell game Wednesday during a 101-96 victory over Utah, and about Golden State beating Memphis 125-104 to win its record 73rd regular-season game. Rivers finally answered the original question.

“Well, everybody’s wanted us, so we’ll be ready, they’ll be ready,” he said. “We had some really interesting games during the regular season, so I’m looking forward to it. They have two terrific guards (Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum). (Coach) Terry Stotts has done an amazing job with their role players they have around those two guards. I think they’ve improved all year, so it’ll be a tough series.”

The Clippers went 3-1 against Portland this season. They won by scores of 102-87, 109-98 and 96-94 and lost 102-91.


Doc Rivers realizes Wednesday was last time he will coach against the retiring Kobe Bryant

Clippers Lakers Basketball

Chris Paul of the Clippers exchanges pleasantries with the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant before Wednesday night’s game, won 91-81 by the Clippers. Bryant is retiring at the end of the season/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill


Clippers coach Doc Rivers retired as a player after the 1995-96 season. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers did not begin his NBA career until 1996-97, so the two never tangled with each other on the floor.

But as coach and player, they had plenty of hotly contested games. Rivers coached the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA title over Bryant and the Lakers. The Lakers and Bryant got their revenge in 2010, when they beat the Celtics in the Finals and Bryant was MVP of the series.

When Wednesday’s game between the Clippers and Lakers ended – the Clippers won 91-81 – it meant that would be the last time Rivers and Bryant would square off because Bryant will be retiring at the end of this season, which is next week.

It has started to sink in for Rivers.

“Yeah, at the very end it actually did,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think it would, honestly. It’s funny, from a coaching standpoint, you’re so competitive. You just think about beating them, beating them, beating them, beating them and then at the very end, you start thinking ‘Wow, this is it.’ And that’s the first thing he walked over and said, ‘Man, we had some amazing wars.’ And he’s right. It was pretty cool.”


Five things to take from Clippers’ 91-81 victory over the Lakers

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan dunks over Lakers center Roy Hibbert on Wednesday at Staples Center. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers dunks over Lakers center Roy Hibbert during Wednesday’s game, won by the Clippers 91-81/Staff photo by John McCoy


– The first thing that stands out is that Blake Griffin played well in his third game back after missing the previous 45 with injuries and a suspension. Griffin came in having scored a total of just 10 points on 3 of 12 shooting in his first two games back. He scored 13 in this one on 5 of 10 from the field. He also had eight rebounds, three assists, a steal and only one turnover in just under 25 minutes. Griffin had four turnovers in under 17 minutes in Tuesday’s win over the Lakers.

Cole Aldrich, who plays very hard, again made the most out of his time on the floor. In just under 18 minutes, the reserve post scored seven points on 2 of 3 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds. He also had two assists, two steals and two blocks. He’s not perfect, though, because he did have two turnovers.

– After holding the Lakers to 31.3-percent shooting in Tuesday’s victory, the Clippers again were stingy on defense in this one as the Lakers shot just 35.6 percent, 21.1 percent (4 of 19) from 3-point range.

– The Clippers’ starters wanted to go back in the game in the fourth quarter because the retiring Kobe Bryant was in there until there were just under 30 seconds to play. Coach Doc Rivers nixed that idea. “Doc wasn’t having it,” DeAndre Jordan said. “We were like, ‘Come on, can we go back? Let’s go back.’ But he was like, ‘Nah.’ It was cool just to play against him for these past eight years. It was truly an honor.”

– This was another in a line of recent games where the Clippers’ starters didn’t have to play in the fourth quarter. “It’s becoming a nice trend,” Rivers said. “We like it.” Any rest this time of season is good, as the playoffs begin in about 10 days.

VIDEO: Jamal Crawford, Blake Griffin say adios to Kobe Bryant

Wednesday’s game between the Clippers and Lakers was the final time the Clippers will play against the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who is retiring after this season. It figured there would be some emotions between Bryant and some of the Clippers after the Clippers defeated the Lakers 91-81 at Staples Center. There were, which is obvious in these exchanges between Bryant and the Clippers’ Jamal Crawford and Blake Griffin. Check it out:

Five things to take from Clippers’ 103-81 victory over the Lakers

Clippers guard Chris Paul D’Angelo Russell during the first quarter Tuesday at Staples Center. (Stephen Carr/Staff Photographer)

Clippers guard Chris Paul reacts after bumping into Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell during Tuesday night’s game at Staples Center, won 103-81 by the Clippers/Staff photo by Stephen Carr


Luc Mbah a Moute and others made Kobe Bryant work hard for his shot, so on a night the Clippers honored the retiring Bryant, he scored just six points on 2 of 12 shooting. Although fans wanted to see more of Bryant, he did not play in the fourth quarter of a game the Clippers led by as many as 28 points during those final 12 minutes. Bryant played 22 minutes and 15 seconds.

– Since none of the Clippers’ starters played during the fourth quarter, that means Chris Paul’s numbers were outstanding. He scored 25 points on 10 of 14 shooting and also pulled down four rebounds and doled out eight assists in just over 23 minutes. He also had two steals and zero turnovers.

Blake Griffin had another rusty performance. In his second game back after missing the previous 45, Griffin scored just four points on 1 of 5 shooting. He had three rebounds, three assists and four turnovers in 16 minutes and 48 seconds. He would have played a few more minutes had the game not been a rout, but Doc Rivers said he didn’t want to put him back with the game the way it was. Griffin is now 3 of 12 from the field since returning. He was 2 of 7 Sunday against Washington.

Jeff Green had a nice game in 31-plus minutes off the bench. He scored 21 points on 7 of 12 from the field. He also had three rebounds, two assists, a steal, a block and just one turnover.

– The Lakers shot just 31.3 percent from the field, 30 percent (6 of 20) from beyond the arc. Part of that was solid defense by the Clippers. Lakers guards D’Angelo Russell (4 of 17) and Jordan Clarkson (4 of 13) shot a combined 8 of 30 (26.6 percent).

Chris Paul scores 13 as Clippers lead Lakers 52-44 at halftime

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers


Chris Paul scored 13 points and Jeff Green scored 11 as the Clippers on Tuesday night took a lead of 52-44 over the Lakers into the halftime break at Staples Center.

This is the first of a back-to-back with the Lakers, meaning it’s the final two times the Clippers will play against the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who is retiring after this season.

Bryant began the game shooting 0 of 8, but made his final two shots of the half. He has six points. D’Angelo Russell led the Lakers with 12 points and Metta World Peace scored 10.