x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Los Angeles Clippers cut down to size

It has been the same old story for Griffin and Co as they again finish empty-handed.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin joined his teammates on the bench with an injured knee.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin joined his teammates on the bench with an injured knee.

Things have a tendency to go wrong for the Los Angeles Clippers, and this season has been no exception.

The Clippers appeared to be an unstoppable force early this season. When they obtained Chris Paul in a trade - with an assist from David Stern, the NBA commissioner - they had visions the veteran guard joining Blake Griffin, the reigning Rookie of the Year, to form a powerhouse.

But even when they also added Chauncey Billups and jumped out to a 19-9 record, there was a feeling that it would not last.

Sure enough, in early February, Billups tore an Achilles tendon and was done for the season.

A veteran leader, and someone besides Paul who could make a shot during crunch time, was lost.

The Clippers still finished the regular season 40-26, advanced to the play-offs, won a series for only the second time in 35 years.

Then, just when they were feeling really good about themselves, more problems arose.

Paul injured his hip and a finger in their first-round play-off victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Griffin injured his knee. Caron Butler fractured his left hand. Mo Williams battled a sore hand.

And they were swept out of the second round by the San Antonio Spurs.

Afterward, the Clippers naturally pointed to their future. "I want to win, so this is not a great feeling sitting here," Paul said.

"I think this is just going to make us hungrier. I tip my hat to the Clippers fans, to the Clippers faithful that came out and supported us. And I want them to know that this isn't it."

History, of course, suggests otherwise. No team in American sport has endured as many bad teams, poor personnel decision and just bad luck as the Clippers.

Twelve years ago, Sports Illustrated dubbed the Clippers "The worst franchise in sports history".

Maybe even if they had been completely healthy, they still would have lost to the Spurs. But when you are coming off just your third winning season in 33 years, there is always hope.

"The sky's the limit for this team," DeAndre Jordan said, "if we stay together."

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