Clippers’ Blake Griffin almost ready to return to the lineup

Prior to Friday night’s match-up with the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers fielded questions about the eventual return of all-star forward Blake Griffin to the Clippers starting line-up.

 Griffin’s been out since partially tearing his left quadricep tendon in a Christmas Day win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Griffin was expected back sooner until he added fractured right hand a month later punching a Clippers assistant equipment manager outside of a Toronto restaurant.

Since first being sidelined, the Clippers have posted an impressive 26 and 14 record without Griffin. That’s great for a bench that’s gotten extended playing time because of the adjustments being made without Griffin.

The team’s efficiency on both sides of the ball without Griffin has it in the top ten in the league based on 100 possessions per game.

The Clippers rank seventh in the league in offensive efficiency scoring 108 points per game, fifth in the league in defensive efficiency holding opponents to 102.2 points per game.

That puts the Clippers at an impressive fifth overall in the league at plus 5.8 points per game versus the rest of the league.

Including Friday’s game with the Trail Blazers, the Clippers have 12 regular season games remaining and are, at this point, locked in as the fourth overall seed in the Western Conference with home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs basically assured.

So, when is Griffin coming back? The hand is healed so the quad is still what’s keeping him out.

He still has to sit out a four game suspension handed down by the league for the altercation in Toronto which means if he’s to get some playing time to get acclimated to the team and vice versa before the playoffs, it seems imperative he gets back in the lineup in the next ten days.

Rivers answers questions involving Blake’s health and imminent return in the video provided which also shows Griffin working out prior to the Portland game with one of Doc’s assistants, Dave Severns.

Clippers look to salvage one against the World Champions

The Los Angeles Clippers (43-26) will try to salvage the fourth and last regular season game against the defending world champion Golden State Warriors (63-7) this season when the rivals meet Wednesday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

The Warriors have won the last eight regular season meetings between the two pacific division foes.

In the three prior meetings this season, the Clippers held a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter of first two games before falling to the Warriors and rallied in the last meeting from a double-digit fourth quarter deficit that fell short on a last second heave by C.J. Wilcox to send the game into overtime.

According to the Clippers – who continue to play without injured Blake Griffin – a win over the Warriors Wednesday will be just that. A win.

However, it would still go a long way in the confidence department if the Clippers could come out with a win.

With just 13 games remaining in the regular season for the Clippers, it’s important to remember they’re the last team to beat the Warriors in a seven game playoff series two seasons ago.

Before Tuesday’s practice, I discussed that with head coach Doc Rivers and all-star point guard Chris Paul.

Tip-off Wednesday is set for 7:30 p.m. PDT.

 

 

Clippers ink forward Turkoglu; sign guard Morris to 2nd 10-day deal

Hedo Turkoglu inks his name to a Clippers contract Thursday morning. Thanx: L.A. Clippers
Hedo Turkoglu inks his name to a Clippers contract Thursday morning.
Thanx: L.A. Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers today signed 13-year NBA free agent forward Hedo Turkoglu who was waived by the Orlando Magic two weeks ago.

“It feels great. I’m really excited. A little bit nervous.”  Turkoglu told the Clippers after signing his contract. “It’s a new chapter for me. I’m just happy to be part of this great organization.”

To read the rest of this story and hear Clippers coach Doc Rivers talk about Turkoglu, please click here.

Clippers hold off pesky Celtics. Los Angeles beats Boston, 111-105

Clippers' Blake Griffin battles for a rebound with the Celtics Kris Humphries. Thanx: nbcsports.com
Clippers’ Blake Griffin battles for a rebound with the Celtics Kris Humphries.
Thanx: nbcsports.com

In his pregame press conference, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was asked how he was going to have his team approach his former one – the Boston Celtics.

 “We have to approach our team.” Said Rivers. “That’s how we approach the Celtics. With all the injuries and thing’s we’re dealing with, we can’t afford to look at anything but our team every night.”

To read the rest of the story and view the postgame comments, click here.

L.A. Clippers go for season sweep of Boston Celtics tonight at Staples Center

Chris Paul tumbles to the floor separating his right shoulder against the Dallas Mavericks. Thanx: USATODAYSI
Chris Paul tumbles to the floor separating his right shoulder against the Dallas Mavericks.
Thanx: USATODAYSI

The Los Angeles Clippers enter their third game without all-star point guard Chris Paul tonight when they host the Boston Celtics at Staples Center.

Paul went down with a separated right shoulder last week in Dallas against the Mavericks that’ll keep him out of the lineup for six weeks.

To read the rest of the story and view the video on Chris Paul’s injury, click here.

Clippers rolling despite “jet-lag.” Jordan’s game “Russell-esque?”

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (#6 far left) fights for rebounding position during Wednesday's 108-95 Clippers win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (#6 far left) fights for rebounding position during Wednesday’s 108-95 Clippers win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Traveling across country is always a difficult proposition for anyone. Especially for professional athletes – let’s say like a basketball team.

Thanks to the Disney On Ice holiday extravaganza taking over Staples Center the first two weeks of December, the Los Angeles Clippers took to the road for an east coast swing where they were able to win four out of the seven games on the roadie.

To read the rest of this story and see the video feature, click here.

Clippers’ Paul previews tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets

Dwight Howard makes his first return to Staples Center tonight since leaving the Lakers when the Houston Rockets visit the Clippers. Thanx: ESPN
Dwight Howard makes his first return to Staples Center tonight since leaving the Lakers when the Houston Rockets visit the Clippers.
Thanx: ESPN

After losing the season-opener to the corridor-rival Los Angeles Lakers the Los Angeles Clippers have reeled off two straight wins and look to get a third tonight when they host ex-Laker Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets (3-0).

It’s Howard’s first visit to Staples Center since leaving the Lakers. He’s averaging 15 points, 17 rebounds and two blocked shots per game for the Rockets.

To read the rest of this story and view the video report, click here.

Clippers’ Rivers keeps practices playoff intense

First year head coach Doc Rivers wants to make sure these Los Angeles Clippers aren’t your parents’ Clippers.

(LtoR) Clippers' Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan & Blake Griffin are ready for the bright lights in "Tinsletown."
(LtoR) Clippers’ Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan & Blake Griffin are ready for the bright lights in “Tinsletown.”

That’s assuming, of course, your parents were fans during that era of futility which is 90% of the Clippers history.

To read the entire article and see the video, click here.

Lakers Take Epic Game 7, Seize 16th Championship…Here go the Dominoes.

Make room for "#16"

It’s been a week since the Lakers beat the Celtics in an epic game 7 to capture franchise title number 16, just one behind Boston’s all-time 17 NBA championships. Back to that in a few paragraphs.

And with Lakers head coach Phil Jackson leaning towards retirement because of health issues, the rest of the league is getting ready for next season with today’s draft that’ll, most likely, see Kentucky point guard John Wall chosen first with the top overall pick by the Washington Wizards.

The Zen Master at work.

Funny how the Zen Master is THE DOMINO. When he falls, so will free agents, including LeBron James.

Here’s why. Jackson’s health could prevent him from returning to the Lakers Bench next season and end any talks of a fourth, three-peat. Waiting in the wings is former Lakers guard Byron Scott.

Scott won three championships with the “Showtime Lakers” in the 1980s and covets the Lakers coaching job. He’ll always be “family” when it comes to the Lakers and his good friends Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Dr. Jerry Buss. Scott guided the New Jersey Nets to two straight NBA finals. He’s won Coach of the Year honors with the Nets and New Orleans Hornets.

Scott’s one of the hottest coaching commodities with prime jobs like the Cleveland Cavaliers bench spot open. With Michigan St. coach Tom Izzo deciding to decline the Cavs offer, Scott’s the prime target in Cleveland. The job’s his if he wants it. He’s decided to wait to see what Jackson decides next week. If the Lakers job is available, Scott will want it. That’s assuming one of Jackson’s current assistants, namely former Lakers guard Brian Shaw, isn’t promoted to the top spot.

Mega-free agent LeBron James could be persuaded to remain with the Cavaliers if they hire Byron Scott. LeBron likes the fact Scott’s been a part of seven NBA finals either as a player or coach. Scott commands respect among players for the simple fact he IS one.

So, it’s up to Jackson. If he comes back for the fourth, three-peat, Scott’s headed to Cleveland with the good possibility LeBron stays. Jackson retires, Scott’s on the Lakers bench with Cleveland back at square one and LeBron entertaining offers from the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, New Jersey and the L.A. Clippers.

…………and there go those dominoes……………

"Black Mamba" Striking

So, with all this on the NBA horizon, gives me a good moment to reflect on last week’s championship game between the NBA’s two most storied franchises.

That was, truly, the best pro basketball game I’ve seen in some time. If nothing else but for the simple fact that it was a game 7 showdown between the Boston Celtics and the, now, two-time defending World Champion Los Angeles Lakers.

It helped they have that finals history going against each other for all the marbles for the 12th time and extending to a game 7 in five of those with the Celtics taking the first four prior to last Thursday’s break-through for the repeat championship by the Lakers at Staples Center, 83-79.

As good as the game was between the two Finals rivals, there’s still no way the series should’ve gone the distance. The Lakers, clearly, were the better team even without 7-foot center Andrew Bynum at full strength. Should’ve been done in five.

Speaking of game five, and backing up my point, the Celtics held the Lakers to 39% shooting for the game while themselves filling it up at a 56% clip, yet were fortunate to come away with a 92-86 win. Same deal in game four.

Down 3-2 and facing elimination, the Lakers just smeared the Celtics in game six at Staples, 89-67. Huge turning point. Celtics lost center Kendrick Perkins to torn knee ligaments early in the first quarter with game 7 looming.

So, that set up the deciding game with Perkins missing from the Celtics line-up and Bynum really ineffective at this point although he did average nine points and seven boards in the series. Pretty good for a guy playing with a knee tear. By the way,  for all you Celtic fans who claim an 18th title didn’t happen because Perkins went down, it can be argued had Bynum been 100%, the Lakers might’ve swept the Celtics.

This series was all about the defense and you’ve got to give it up to both Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Jackson for making the proper adjustments to go for the championship. Game 7 looked more like an NCAA elite eight battle with both teams playing text-book defense. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

For three quarters, the Celtics, with that “nothing to lose so let’s go for it” attitude, looked as if they were going to script another disastrous game 7 ending for the Lakers at home against Boston.

The Big 4 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen , Rajon Rondo and company, were playing championship defense triple-teaming Kobe Bryant and holding the Lakers to 29% shooting from the field in the first half alone.

Problem for the Celtics, the Lakers dominated the boards. Bryant himself had 15. So, although they couldn’t score, the Lakers got plenty of second-chance opportunities they converted keeping them in the game.

"Boom Boom.....PAU!"

After opening a 13-point third quarter lead, the Celtics looked golden. But the old guys ran out of gas and the Lakers took over. While they made their run to take the lead spear-headed by Pau Gasol, the “help, or weak side defense” looked like Duke’s trying to stave off Butler for the championship.

If you’re a Boston fan, you hated it, which is understandable. If you’re  Lakers fan you, obviously, loved it. If you’re a basketball junkie, you had to have been impressed by it for the simple fact they usually don’t play like that in an NBA game.

Plenty were complaining because of the lack of offense in the game. That’s what happens when both teams play good defense adjusting on the fly and one team dominates the glass. Remember what coaching icon Pat Riley likes to say.

No Rebounds. No Rings.

Either way, it was like watching a nail-biter of a Super Bowl. Congratulations to both the Lakers and Celtics for playing a game 7 for the ages.

The Clip Joint

Along with NFL Training Camp hold-outs, here’s another rite of Summer, the Clippers are on the clock!

Who is Al-Farouq Aminu?  Well, “The Chief  Has Arrived”.  That’s what Al-Farouq means.   And, apparently, he IS “The King”.  He descends from a line of Nigerian Kings.  Take that, LeBron!

Yeah. But can THIS King go left?

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