Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Life without Chris Paul was GREAT for Portland PG Damian Lillard. The 2016 All-Star snub had a game-high 28 points to go with five rebounds and seven assists, while hitting 4-of-9 three-pointers. Games 5 and 6 marked the first time all series that Lillard scored 20+ points in back-to-back games, and Lillard made 9-of-19 threes in those Games. In Games 1-4, Lillard shot 37 percent from the field and made only 8-of-30 three-pointers (27 percent). Lillard also had a series-low one turnover in Game 6, after averaging 3.8 turnovers per game in Games 1-4.
That was … a boxing match: When Chris Paul exited the floor for the last time, the Clippers were down 58-52 in Game 4. They wound up losing that game by 14 points and Game 5 by ten points. They weren’t dead on arrival in Game 6. Austin Rivers took a shot to the eye in the first quarter, and he comes back and finishes the game with 11 stitches. The Clippers competed, as the Trail Blazers knew they could and as the Utah Jazz can attest to first hand. Like the March 31 game at Oklahoma City, the Clippers got huge games from Rivers (21 points, eight assists, no turnovers) and Jamal Crawford (32 points off the bench, most by a reserve in Clippers postseason franchise history). Like the game in Oklahoma City, the Clippers came up just short. Portland’s three-pointers (14-of-32, including 10-of-16 in 2nd half) kept them close, especially in a second half that saw the Clippers largely outplay Portland. The final margin of victory was three Mason Plumlee free throws, which came directly after the Clippers went on an 8-2 run while holding Portland without a FG over the last 2:16 of the game.
X factor: Shout out to that dude Maurice Harkless. The 15th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, Harkless was included in arguably the most ill-fated trade of the decade when the 76ers sent him to Orlando in the Andrew Bynum-Dwight Howard-Andre Iguodala tragedy. Harkless didn’t even score 500 points this season. But the young fella (will turn 23 years old next month) scored 11 of his 14 points in the 3rd quarter, and he hit a career-high (regular season or postseason) four threes in this game. That came on the heels of a 19-point Game 5 where he scored 17 points in the first half. This was the first time all season that Harkless made multiple threes in consecutive games.
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Doc Rivers on Austin Rivers: "He’s bleeding during every timeout. It looked like a boxing match. He’s a baller." pic.twitter.com/6u9OcVbnfT
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 30, 2016
Anybody who thinks Austin Rivers can only play for his dad is an idiot…incredible performance anytime; more so with one eye…
— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) April 30, 2016
Austin Rivers put some respek on his name tonight.
— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) April 30, 2016
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) April 30, 2016
austin rivers. 21 points, 11 stitches. 8 assists. 6 rebounds. 1.5 eyes. 0 turnovers. but keep hating, per usual.
never been more proud.
— Callie Rivers (@CallieRivers25) April 30, 2016
Kudos to Austin Rivers – lots of respect for what he did tonight. Small consolation prize for another lost Clippers season.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) April 30, 2016
Really was, these Doc coached teams have played hard w/ injuries his entire Clipper tenure. https://t.co/xl3lpeXbwc
— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) April 30, 2016
Series MVP: Mason Plumlee. No doubt. pic.twitter.com/S3otBkZmDF
— Blazer's Edge (@Blazersedge) April 30, 2016
Mason Plumlee: Series MVP for Portland: 8.0 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.7 assists.
— Jason Quick (@jwquick) April 30, 2016
Hope we made you guys proud, thank you for fighting with us until the end! #ClipperNation nothing but love & respect..
— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) April 30, 2016
Check Your Messages
No More Roller Coasters in L.A.
A balmy late summer September day in Southern California made way for a band of new Clippers – scrimmaging and practicing drills in a college gym in Orange County. It is Day 2 of training camp. What is immediately apparent is a significant increase in sheer talent and depth on this roster. Over the past several years, the Clippers have faltered amongst the brightest of lights, falling short, with the preverbal finger squarely pointed at a shallow bench.
The Clippers began these initial phases of the season with premier confidence, knowing for once the starters can sit and a lead won’t subsequently dissipate. It is a luxury most contenders afford themselves and often a prerequisite of withstanding those grueling playoff runs.
A season in the NBA is often akin to a roller coaster and it wasn’t much different for this season’s version of the Clippers. We were blind-sighted by some of the dips, perhaps a bit unexpected, a little too steep. You build as the season moves into the brisk winter months, weather the 7-game road trips, and absorb some inevitable injury. But not much could have prepared the Clippers for the off-court drama and cascading injuries that smacked them from behind.
The talent on this roster is undeniable at its core and yet premature playoff exits speak volumes regardless of the reason. Moving forward into the unknown triggers an uncomfortable aura. Maybe the ride was just a little too rough this time.
– Kaveh Jam
Morality and Mortality
There’s a scene in the film Up in the Air where George Clooney asks J.K. Simmons why kids love athletes. The answer: kids love them because they follow their dreams.
As sports fans, growing from seedling to teenager to adult, there is an idolization of the heights of what athletes are capable of at their peak. This idolization at times also acts as a gatekeeper, hindering the acknowledgement of the player further down on the bench for not appearing as transcendent as the stars of the game.
It’s not so much that these players are incapable as much as it is a denial of mortality; these are the professionals who are supposed to do the things we only hoped to be able to do. Perhaps that’s why the broken fingers can weigh a fan down if it was from their own hand, or why the hamstrings and the sore left heels of a roster’s elite feel like burdens that are shared.
Looking up from the clutter, however, can allow focus on the resolute, and it’s in these moments that we as an audience can perhaps see facets of a person that we never had the opportunity or the willingness to acknowledge before. Watching as Austin Rivers found the basket time after time in that astounding third quarter, laughing in the face of every Trail Blazer three-point attempt that would not miss, it’s hard not to appreciate that his boastfulness — as foolhardy as it seems from an outsider’s view — is perhaps what pushed him to perform the way he did tonight, refusing to be stopped by better talent, an opposing floor, or even an eye that refused to stop bleeding throughout the game. It’s not just that he had what might be his best playoff performance ever, but how he had it.
It may have come in a loss, and with the expectations of what this Clippers team was meant to achieve, it’s difficult for many to put stock in moral victories. That said, it’s performances like these that help change a narrative, and looking around Twitter after the game in reaction to Austin’s performance tonight, it’s not hard to see the page begin to turn.
– Brandon Tomyoy
Thank you, Chris. Thank you, Blake. Thank you, DeAndre. Thank you, JJ. Thank you, Jamal.
Thank you, Austin. Thank you, Paul. Thank you, Luc. Thank you, Wes. Thank you, Cole. Thank you, Jeff. Thank you, Pablo. Thank you, CJ. Thank you, Lance. Thank you, Josh. Thank you, Branden. Thank you, Alex. Thank you, Jeff (2). Thank you, Doc. Thank you, Ralph. Thank you, Mike. Thank you, Kyle, Don, Kristina, Mark, and Corey. Thank you, Brian. Thank you, Steve. Thank you, Chuck.
See (some of) you next year.
And thank you, Brandon, Law, Andrew, Fred, Kaveh, Ben, Roscoe, Kevin, and anyone and everyone who read this nonsense for 88 games. I appreciate you all so much. It’s been a lot of things, but above all, it’s been fun. That’s all I could have asked for.
Good night, have a good summer, and if you’re in L.A. this summer, come on down to the Drew League and say hi. Drew Aid on me.
LOVE ALL YOU GUYS
– Aaron Williams