As the Clippers eased by the hapless Houston Rockets minus the ego-man, they set a franchise record that is important to them, but makes little impact on Los Angeles basketball fans use to the continual success of Staples’ Center’s “other” occupant, the Lakers. By winning last night, the Clippers make the NBA Playoffs for the third consecutive season. Never before, in their storied history, has the team accomplished this feat. On the other hand, this season marks the first year in the memory of most Lakers’ fans that the purple and gold will NOT play in the post-season.
But, reminiscent of Clippers’ seasons past, as the team was about to bask in such playoff glory, things that could go wrong did go wrong.
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|First, MVP contender Blake Griffin, who has stepped up his game to vast new levels this season and who has truly become indispensable to Clippers’ success, had to leave the game a bare six minutes into the game, with a back injury. Past seasons in Clippers’ history begun with promise were frequently destroyed by injuries, as were the blossoming careers of future stars derailed. Established stars acquired in trades and signed as free agents also often went down to injury, never duplicating their past success while in a Clippers’ uniform. From the dust of Derek Smith, Marques Johnson, Danny Manning, Baron Davis, Elton|
Brand, Loy Vaught, et al., a “New” Clippers mystique has been formed the past three seasons, and the undisputed leaders have been Doc RIvers, Chris Paul, and Griffin.
As the Clippers fight for a top spot in playoff seeding, they might be without Griffin. Though scant details of his injury are yet known, what has been said by Rivers is that he will use Griffin little or maybe not at all through the rest of the regular season if he is not fully recovered, and hope that he will be well for the playoffs. It is also now known that this
Second in the “go wrong” department is what later transpired last night between the recently acquired Glen “Big Baby” Davis, and Doc. When Davis was taken out of the game in the second quarter in favor of Ryan Hollins, he apparently lived up to his nickname with a tantrum that did not sit well with Doc, who had Davis escorted to the locker room and who as soon as possible let it be known that Davis would not return to the game.
Whether this will quickly be over, or whether it will become a lingering problem, as such matters so often became throughout Clippers’ history, will have to play out. Suffice it to
part of a deep bench that also includes Hollins and Jared Dudley. Without one of the team’s kingpins in Griffin and possibly without an important backup in Davis, a major strength becomes a suspect weakness, especially as the team battles to both stay ahead of Houston and hopefully move closer and maybe even overtake Oklahoma City over the final two-and-a-half weeks of the regular season.