Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

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By Mitch Chortkoff
Sports Editor 

Clippers Need Paul To Continue Sudden Surge


How surprising. The Clippers went to Houston with short rest, learned that Chris Paul couldn’t play and proceeded to win Game 1 of their second round playoff series.

But I have something to say to Clipper fans. Don’t expect to win this series unless Paul can play at his usual high level.

On Monday night Paul was held out due to a hamstring injury even though they reported that no serious damage had shown up in an MRI.

What happened in the game was something I’ve seen occasionally through the years. A star player can’t play and the opponent loses its focus.

The Rockets didn’t resemble the team that earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

Houston coach Kevin McHale put it best, saying “we look like we’re stuck in mud.”

The Rockets were awful but give the Clippers credit for seizing upon an opportunity. They took charge in the second half.

J.J. Redic, who was scoreless in the first half, suddenly was making shots. Jamal Crawford, best known as a shooting guard, became the point guard. Blake Griffin was spectacular with his scoring and passing.

‘We had to stay together,” said Griffin. “There was no reason to crumble.”

Griffin had another in a recent series of triple doubles. He’s been a high scorer ever since he joined the Clippers but now he’s emerged as the best passer among NBA power forwards.

Matt Barnes, who scored 20 points, talked fondly about Griffin.

“He was incredible,” said Barnes. ‘He gets to the middle of the court, picks out who he wants and delivers a pass like Tom Brady.”

The Clippers added to the joy they had brought to their fans in the first round series when they won Games 6 and 7 to eliminate the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs had earned the reputation of coming through in the biggest games when they’d won five NBA championships.

But the Clippers fought off elimination in Game 6 in San Antonio after losing two home games. Then they came through in Game 7 as Paul made the winning shot with one second to play.

As I was leaving Staples Center an hour after that game someone called my name. I turned around to see it was Andy Roeser, the longtime Clippers president when Donald Sterling owned the team.

Although Roeser is no longer with the team he was happy for the Clippers’ success. He had put in a lot of years of effort and rightfully was proud of what the Clippers are doing now.


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