LOS ANGELES – Chris Paul has a sore groin and strained right hip. Blake Griffin has a left hip injury to go with his sprained right knee. Caron Butler has a fractured left hand.
If the Clippers get any more broken down, a tow truck might appear out of a Staples Center tunnel to haul them off the floor. That could happen anyway if they don’t somehow find a way to quickly put the drive back into their game.
The Clippers are being outworked, outplayed, outhustled and simply outclassed by a Spurs team that is sharper than a razor’s edge and has sliced its way to 16 consecutive wins.
It is no longer a question of whether L.A. can win this conference semifinal series, but if the Clippers can earn a measure of respect by winning just one game.
“No excuses,” says Paul.
Give the Clippers credit. At least they’re not whining like the Heat. At this time of the year everybody is bruised, battered and aching and being able to deal with injuries and persevere is as much a part of making a title run as making baskets.
Look at the Spurs, who lost one of their Big Three – Manu Ginobili – a week into the regular season with a broken hand that eventually forced him to miss 32 games. They soldiered on to tie Chicago for the best overall record in the league.
Now it’s the Clippers who have to do whatever it takes with two games on their home court in less than 36 hours to show they are more than just a “Lob City” slogan on the front of a T-shirt. Dinged up or not, Paul has to post a lot more than the 16 total points he scored in Games 1 and 2 and a lot less than the 18 turnovers. Hobbled or not, Griffin can’t have another game where he plays nearly 37 minute as he did in Game 2 and manages to bump into just one rebound. That’s how you lose by 17 points in one game and 16 in another.
“We’re not going into these next two games thinking, ‘Let’s try to keep it close,’ ” Griffin said. “There’s no moral victories and moral losses here.”
There is respect and that’s what’s left for the Clippers.