Without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers struggled and lost six straight games. However, in their game against the Phoenix Suns, some of their players stepped up to fill the absence of the two superstars.
Last month, Griffin had a minor surgery on his right knee and is expected to return at some point in January. The Clippers considered the procedure a “cleanup” to make sure he’s 100 healthy in the postseason. Before 2016 ended, Chris Paul suffered a sore left hamstring, resulting for him to miss the last seven games.
Injuries proved to be the major reason why the Clippers were easily eliminated by the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the 2016 NBA playoffs. They managed to win the first two games. But after Griffin and Paul were sidelined due to injury, the Clippers lost the next four games.
Recently, they faced a familiar situation and went on a six-game losing streak. The Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, and New Orleans Pelicans took advantage of the situation and managed to win with a single-digit lead. However, against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets, the Clippers lost by huge margins.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers urged his players to play harder even without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Marreese Speights expressed the same sentiment, saying that they shouldn’t use it as an excuse for their poor performance.
“We’ve got to look in the mirror and understand we’ve got to play harder,” Speights said in Oklahoma City. “No excuse with (Paul and Griffin) being out, we’ve just got to step up more.”
CLIPPERS LEARNING TO WIN WITHOUT GRIFFIN AND CP3
When they faced the Phoenix Suns, the Clippers finally found ways to win even without the two superstars. Rivers used a three-guard lineup of Austin Rivers, Raymond Felton, and Jamal Crawford who posted five assists apiece. The Clippers showed good ball movement, resulting in eight different players to score at least nine points.
J.J. Redick, who scored team-high 22 points, observed some improvements on their defense.
“In the second half, we had unbelievable half-court defense,” Redick said. “It reminded me of earlier in the season when we were flying around and covering for each other. Our rotations were phenomenal tonight. That, to me, was why we won.”
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are yet to return to the court. The Clippers will make sure that both of their superstars are 100% healthy before letting them play again. As of now, the Clippers should learn to win with the current talents they have to improve their standing in the Western Conference.
Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons
Video courtesy: Youtube/Ximo Pierto Final