It’s a brave new world in Clipperland

first_imgL.A. as in Lives Again …You remember the postseason. Came in spring when Shaquille O’Neal was rounding into playing shape and setting aside his differences with Kobe Bryant, or, after he left, making up rap lyrics about him.Courtside was awash in movie stars and studio heads. Phil Jackson lived for the second Sunday in May when he would tell the press, “Happy Mothers Day, all you mothers.”Not that you need me to tell you, but this isn’t like that. With Blake Griffin and their Lob City highlight package, the Clippers are nobody’s idea of a bland team but they don’t have high-profile feuds or, in fact, high-profile anything.The movie star they showed on the scoreboard TV screen Saturday was Morris Chestnut, not Jack Nicholson or Denzel Washington. The former athlete they showed was Dave Winfield, a baseball player for those whose memories don’t go back that far, not David Beckham. The rapper was Jazzy J, not Snoop Dogg.Saturday?The Lakers played Sundays, not Saturdays. As arch-fan Jimmy Goldstein said before the game, “The biggest game in Clipper history and they’re a warmup for a fight.”The victory, on the other hand, was a the maraschino cherry on the sundae of a classic game, the one the Clippers waited their whole challenging existence for. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img The game-winning shot, Chris Paul’s running, or limping, half-hook, was the one the gods owed him for playing so well for so long and so bravely on a pulled hamstring.If anyone wants to know what CP3’s legacy is now, I don’t know what the bottom line will be, but he just created a lasting memory.As for this moment, it’s the community’s to savor, if it can pull its head out of Laker woes long enough to recognize that the real team in town at the moment just did something remarkable.Lakers teams were judged according to whether or not they won a title.This Clippers team should be judged by another standard. It was all it could be and more, against the odds, amid drama and, finally, emerged victorious.No one expected them to win this series, coming out as underdogs in Game 1 on their floor, rallying from 2-1 and 3-2 deficits, both on the Spurs’ floor.No one in his right mind expects the Clippers to win a title. Winning another series would be enough of an achievement with Paul limping into action and only Austin Rivers, a shooting guard until he got here, backing him up.Nevertheless, if 56-win Houston is hardly a relief, San Antonio was the Clippers’ worst nightmare, not just because of the Spurs’ experience and heritage.The Spurs were as deep as the Clippers were shallow.For the series, San Antonio’s bench outscored the Clippers reserves, 299-156.The average Spurs starter played an average of 29 minutes. The average Clipper starter had to go 37.Worse for the Clippers, Coach Gregg Popovich could put DeAndre Jordan on the free-throw line, shutting down their offense (as in Games 2 and 5, if not in Game 6 when it backfired, slowing down Pop’s Spurs when they were rolling).Before Game 6 when J.J. Redick scored 19 points and even Matt Barnes, shooting 29 percent for the series, went 3 for 3 from the floor, it was a miracle the Clippers could even compete.At full strength, the Clippers go eight deep, their starters plus Rivers, Glen Davis and their lone threat off the bench, Jamal Crawford.Crawford is a force of nature when he’s hot and a snowball rolling downhill when he’s not. Before Games 6-7, he was mostly in snowball mode.That made seven.With Barnes throwing up bricks for the first five games, that made six.With Redick unable to get into the offense, that made five.Rivers and Davis are role players so as far as front-line Clippers, that left three.With Popovich putting Jordan on the line, or making the Clippers take him out as Doc Rivers did in Game 7 — after which the Spurs punished the Clippers on the offensive boards—that left two.With Paul tweaking his hamstring in Saturday’s first quarter and again in the third, that should have left Blake Griffin to carry the load by himself, although that’s not how it worked out.After all these years, it’s a Brave New Clipper World. Enjoy it while it lasts.last_img