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The National Basketball Association today announced that L.A. Clippers guard Chris Paul has been named Western Conference Player of the Month for games played in the month of April. Paul George of the Indiana Pacers was the Eastern Conference winner.

Paul won his eighth career Player of the Month award by helping the Clippers to a 5-0 month behind averages of 21.2 points, 9.8 assists and 5.0 rebounds, helping LA clinch home court advantage and the fourth seed in the First Round of the Playoffs against the Utah Jazz. The nine-time All-Star shot 54.4 percent from the field, 52.6 percent from three-point range and went 22-for-22 from the free throw line in April. On April 8, he finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a 98-87 road win against the San Antonio Spurs.

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It’s often said in boxing that styles make fights. In the NBA, particularly in the playoffs, those styles are dictated by the talents of a team’s personnel.

The Los Angeles Clippers are well acquainted with who and what make the Utah Jazz play the way they do, and vice versa. These teams have seen each other six times since October—twice in the preseason, four times during the regular season—so there won’t be much mystery between them when they take the court at Staples Center for Game 1 of their first-round series at 7:30 pm PT on Saturday night.

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When it comes to the playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers’ history is short and not at all sweet.

The once-beleaguered franchise has never made it past the second round, and in two of the last three years under coach Doc Rivers they’ve blown comfortable series leads and ended up going home.

At least they’re going to open these playoffs at home, and given the team’s recent history, that’s no small thing.

Neither is the momentum they’re riding.

The Clippers won seven in a row and 11 of 13 to end the regular season. They clinched home court for the first round against Utah six months after starting the season as the NBA’s hottest team at 14-2.

“This really could be their year,” Sacramento coach Dave Joerger said. “They could really do something. They’re in a rhythm, they’re playing well.”

The Clippers have shown maturity down the stretch, seizing home court after the Jazz put the pressure on by winning on Wednesday night. The Clippers had to beat the Kings to end up tied with Utah at 51-31, and they owned the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the season series 3-1.

“This team has grown a lot,” Blake Griffin said. “Maybe more than any other season that we have had here.”

The Clippers survived a combined 42 games without Griffin and Chris Paul, going 19-23 in their absence. Their worst stretch was a six-game skid between Christmas and New Year’s and they responded by starting the new year on a seven-game winning streak, equaling their longest of the season.


“When you have as many injuries as we did, the ups and downs of the season, the length of the season, you go through a lot of adversity,” Griffin said. “You always say that when we come out on the other side we are going to be better for it, and I truly believe that we are.”

The Big Three of Griffin, Paul and DeAndre Jordan are in their sixth season together and still in pursuit of their first title.

Their sense of urgency may never be greater.

Paul and Griffin are in the final year of their contracts, which include player options for 2017-18. Jordan has a year remaining, with a player option for 2018-19.

A year ago, the Clippers owned a 2-0 lead against Portland in the first round only to lose in six games after injuries to Paul and Griffin.

In 2015, they gave up a 3-1 lead against Houston and blew a 19-point lead in Game 6 with a trip to the Western Conference finals on the line. In 2014, Paul had an infamous meltdown, twice turning the ball over and fouling Russell Westbrook, who made three straight free throws to beat the Clippers by one point in Game 5 of the conference semifinals. They lost Game 6 back at home.

In fact, the Clippers have lost at least once at home in their last six playoff appearances.

“Because of the experiences we’ve had, I think we’re concentrating on finishing,” Paul said. “Trying not to have those different lapses in games. That’s probably where we’ve showed a little bit of growth and we won’t really be able to tell until the playoffs.”

Heading into Saturday’s playoff opener, the Clippers are healthy, with the exception of backup guard Austin Rivers, who missed the final six games with a strained left hamstring. He could return soon.

Despite their recent failures, Doc Rivers insists he never goes into a new playoff series thinking about the past.

“Does that mean there’s no residual effect?” he asked. “I can’t say.”

While they can’t change their painful past, they recognize it and clearly want to get past it.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Jamal Crawford, three-time Sixth Man of the Year. “Ultimately, we’ll be one of the teams judged on our postseason success, so we’re ready for it.”


Sue Ogrocki/AP

The NBA world seems split on the league’s tightest, most exciting MVP race in years.

Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and LeBron James have all had historic seasons and could all justifiably win the award.

While players like Harden and Leonard top Westbrook in efficiency, defense, and team success, Westbrook’s case is built upon his record-breaking 42 triple-doubles and the relentlessness with which he played all season.

Blake Griffin, who tweeted that Westbrook should win MVP on Sunday, explained to HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy that, just as important as stats, the way Westbrook played and how other players view that should make him MVP.

“It almost blows my mind to think that anybody else could win MVP this year. That’s not taking anything away from James [Harden] and Kawhi [Leonard] and LeBron [James] because they’ve had excellent seasons too, but Russ’ production is crazy. And the things that set it apart are their record when he’s had triple-doubles, his PER and his PER in the clutch. As a player, those are all the things you look for – a player who’s going to make his team better, a player that wins games for you, and a player who performs when you need him to. I honestly never thought I’d see someone average a triple-double. That’s why Russ’ run has been so mind-blowing. It takes an insane amount of energy to do that. You have to be involved in everything and have such a high motor.”

Griffin’s perspective may differ slightly from a media member voting on the award. Some argue that Westbrook’s triple-doubles are over-inflated and that he could have helped the Oklahoma City Thunder win more games by taking a step back, involving teammates, and focusing more on efficiency.

However, as Griffin sees it — while also factoring stats like PER (Player Efficiency Rating, a comprehensive stat that looks at a player’s overall production) — that Westbrook could even have the energy to dominate in so many areas and average a triple-double is mind-blowing. Energy and stamina can sometimes be lost on people viewing the game from afar, but to players, it’s a huge part of playing. Few people have it in them to use as much energy as Westbrook did this season. Furthermore, as Griffin notes, the Thunder had a 33-9 record when Westbrook posted a triple-double. Fellow players value that production and the physical cost of it.

None of this means that Westbrook is inarguably the rightful winner of the MVP award, but it’s worth noting that players put a higher premium on some of the things Westbrook did this season.



It’s no secret the Oklahoma City Thunder will be interested in pairing Blake Griffin with superstar point guard and MVP candidate Russell Westbrook this offseason, when the Los Angeles Clippers power forward, who has an early termination options come season’s end, will almost certainly be a free agent.

One thing they’ve got going for them, other than that Griffin is from Oklahoma City and spent a year playing for the Sooners: He is thoroughly impressed with Westbrook’s 2016-17 campaign, and thinks it’s ludicrous that anyone else would be considered for the MVP award.

HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy asked Griffin if Westbrook’s season is “the best individual season [he’s] ever seen.”

“Yes,” Griffin responded. “It almost blows my mind to think that anybody else could win MVP this year. That’s not taking anything away from James [Harden] and Kawhi [Leonard] and LeBron [James] because they’ve had excellent seasons too, but Russ’ production is crazy. And the things that set it apart are their record when he’s had triple-doubles, his PER and his PER in the clutch. As a player, those are all the things you look for—a player who’s going to make his team better, a player that wins games for you and a player who performs when you need him to. I honestly never thought I’d see someone average a triple-double. That’s why Russ’ run has been so mind-blowing. It takes an insane amount of energy to do that. You have to be involved in everything and have such a high motor.”

Back in August, Basketball Insiders reported that sources close to Griffin said he will re-sign with the Clippers after the season. When Kennedy asked Griffin about free agency, he focused his answer on the upcoming playoffs but also didn’t go out of his way to say he’d be returning to Los Angeles.

“I can’t worry about a decision that I can’t make right now. We still have so much basketball left to play. The playoffs are about to start and this literally what we spent all last summer, the preseason and the regular season preparing for. We were preparing for this,” Griffin said. “To be focused on something else would be a travesty to the rest of my team, to my coaching staff, to our fans, to everybody. Those decisions and whatever happens in the summer will be there in the summer.

“Honestly, I was kind of curious what it would be like going into a contract year and playing the season out like that, but it’s no different. It really isn’t. You always see other players go through it [so you wonder what it’s like], but it really hasn’t been different. Our focus has been really good this year.”


SAN ANTONIO — The Los Angeles Clippers are not where they want to be entering the postseason, but they are a lot closer after toppling the San Antonio Spurs.

Chris Paul had 19 points and the Clippers beat the Spurs 98-87 on Saturday night for their fifth straight victory.

“I think we’re playing with the right spirit right now, the right intensity,” Paul said. “The right intensity. It’s a good win for us, but with us it’s all about consistency. We’ve been so up and down over the season.”

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LOS ANGELES — It’s all down to one game for the Los Angeles Clippers to earn home-court advantage in the playoffs.

They routed the Houston Rockets 125-96 on Monday night to remain tied with Utah in the race for the No. 4 playoff seed. Both teams are 50-31 with one game remaining before they meet in the playoffs with only home court to be decided.

“Our destiny is in our hands,” said DeAndre Jordan, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds.

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Wizards v/s Clippers 03/12/11

LOS ANGELES – The Clippers captured their fourth consecutive win and the eighth in the past 10 games with a 112-101 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday at Staples Center. Blake Griffin scored a game-high 32 points with six assists and four rebounds for the Clippers.

J.J. Redick contributed 25 points, hitting 5 of 8 from 3-point range, Chris Paul added 22 points and 11 assists and DeAndre Jordan collected 20 rebounds to go with 11 points.

“They carried the load. They were fantastic,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

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Before the 2016-2017 NBA season arrived in full force, it was clear that the Golden State Warriors were going to be the biggest story of the campaign. That comes with the territory after adding Kevin Durant to a 73-win team. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets have captured quite a bit of attention as a result of James Harden’s MVP-worthy performance. The San Antonio Spurs are, well, the San Antonio Spurs, and even the Utah Jazz are (finally) coming into their own as a legitimate contender for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

But much of the NBA world has simply forgotten about the Los Angeles Clippers. As early April arrives, the Clippers are locked into a fight with the Jazz for homecourt in what appears to be a likely first-round clash between two contrasting teams, but a closer look indicates that Los Angeles isn’t a team that should be ignored when the playoffs finally materialize.

Chris Paul remains one of the best players (not just point guards) in the NBA and his impact is undeniable. With their All-Star point guard in the lineup this season, the Clippers are a robust 39-18 and that places Doc Rivers’ team on a 56-win pace for the campaign. When Paul sits, though, the Clippers are just 8-13 and that helps to explain why many people appear to be down on the team in a large-scale sense.

Still, a closer look indicates that, at full strength, the Clippers are as dangerous as ever. Few teams outside of the Warriors can match a four-man nucleus of Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and sharp-shooter J.J. Redick, and Los Angeles has quietly been not quite as ugly around the edges this season.

Even with the 21-game absence for Paul and another 21 games (!!!) on the shelf for Griffin, the Clippers boast the sixth-best net rating (+3.7) in the NBA. That number jumps considerably when Rivers is provided with a full complement of options.

Are the Clippers likely to unseat the Warriors in a potential second-round battle? Well, no. However, that has (much) more to do with a brutal match-up situation for Los Angeles than it does with the team being unworthy as a legitimate Western Conference contender.For better or worse, Golden State’s talent is just that tantalizing. The Clippers will have more than a few interesting decisions to make in the offseason but in the midst of what many seem to characterize as a “lost year”, this is actually a very good basketball team. Again.

Where do the Clippers stand when compared to the rest of the NBA as the regular season winds to a close? Let’s find out.


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