The Clippers need to chill.
The Clippers need to stop acting like some young new movie star who feels it necessary to prove his street cred by trashing hotel rooms and tossing bouncers.
So far this season, the Clippers are the best team in Los Angeles and one of the best teams in the NBA’s Western Conference, a talented and energetic group, legitimate contenders who could play deep into spring.
Now they need to start behaving like it.
Now that they are in the process of erasing the traditional Clippers jinx off their resume, they need to lose the traditional Clippers chip off their shoulder and stop turning Lob City into Lob Alley.
Fellas, you’re good. We get it. You don’t need to throw a flagrant elbow to show us. You don’t need to pose after a dunk to convince us. And you certainly didn’t need to subject the city to nearly three hours of cheap stuff and chippiness Wednesday night to make your point.
What happened during parts of their 96-91 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center was unsightly and unbecoming, the Clippers bumping and grinding on the outmanned Lakers to the point of distraction. By the time it ended, it was the Clippers who had been flattened, blowing a game-long lead in the fourth quarter to a Lakers team that had risen to the fight, Pau Gasol lashing, Kobe Bryant snarling, Metta World Peace declaring war.
“All that physical stuff is fine,” said Bryant afterward. “But you better know who you’re messing with.”
In the end, the Clippers messed mostly with themselves, shrouding their high-flying brilliance with 10 more personal fouls that gave the Lakers 18 more free throws, which the Lakers converted into 15 more points. It was particularly ugly during their fourth-quarter meltdown, when the Clippers were hit with two technical fouls and one flagrant foul.
When asked about that chip afterward, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro admitted, “Well, we do have one. I mean, we haven’t done anything yet.”
Sports news from Los Angeles and beyond
The Clippers need to chill.
The first time the Lakers and Clippers met this season, there were five technical fouls. In their second game Wednesday, there were six technicals, one flagrant and an ejection.
Yet the players maintain that there's no rivalry.
"You all use that word," Clippers center DeAndre Jordan said. "We don't look at it like that."
No, the teams haven't had epic playoff battles, but they're neighbors who practice miles away from each other and are competing for the affection of a shared city.
Perhaps the description is simply a matter of semantics. After all, Jordan acknowledged that the game was very "chippy."
In one play late in the third quarter, Metta World Peace and Blake Griffin looked like wrestlers instead of basketball players as they rolled on the floor, legs flying in the air, trying to grab a loose ball.
When World Peace stood up, a bit of a skirmish ensued.
"I was on the ground and next thing I knew there was kind of a scuffle," Griffin said. "I'm not sure if that was between me and him. I mean, I felt him kind of on top of me and then I saw everyone kind of come around."
Jordan immediately stepped in and helped assuage the building hostility.
"I'm just out there trying to protect my teammates," Jordan said. "We're a family out there, so we're not going to let anyone try and run over us."
Jordan's statement is well-founded.
Both teams weren't just trying to win, they were trying to steam roll each other.
The Clippers held the lead for most of the game but committed some costly turnovers down the stretch allowing the Lakers to nuzzle their way to a 96-91 win, tying their series at 1-1. (The Clippers won the teams' first game Jan. 14, 102-94.)
The teams don't play again until April. If the Clippers win that game, they'll win their first series against the Lakers since 1992-93.
Those who have floor seats are strongly advised to wear padding to that game.
-- Melissa Rohlin
In the midst of a hailstorm of trash talk between Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant with 1.1 seconds remaining in the Lakers-Clippers game, Paul Gasol reached down and rubbed Paul's head.
The gesture incensed Paul, who proceeded to smack Gasol's hand away, then retaliate by aggressively touching Gasol's mane.
In the locker room following the Clippers 96-91 loss, Paul was still steaming over the incident.
"Don't touch the top of my head like I'm one of your kids," Paul said.
"I don't know what his intention was, I don't know if he's got kids, but I'm not one of them. I'll treat him like little Chris."
Gasol, however, claimed there was no bad intent in the head rub.
"I'm sorry he felt that way," Gasol said.
"I do that all of the time with my teammates. It's OK, it's like if I touch your shoulder or your back. Nothing mean mean about it."
There is definitely some lingering tension between Paul and Gasol.
The Lakers attempted to make a trade in early December which would have sent Gasol to Houston in exchange for Paul. (NBA Commissioner David Stern promptly put the kibosh on that deal.)
After the team's first exhibition, Gasol said he didn't even speak to Paul.
"There were no words exchanged," Gasol said. "I really have nothing to say to him."
The Gasol-Paul interaction was just one of many chippy incidents in a game with six technical fouls, one flagrant and one ejection.
The Lakers and Clippers series is now tied at 1-1.
Metta World Peace to the rescue?
Pretty much. In a most unusual Lakers season, it was perhaps the most bizarre twist so far.
The small forward who had mostly disappeared since going to the bench this season made a three-pointer that gave the Lakers a late five-point lead, fed Andrew Bynum with a pass that turned into an easy layup and then blocked a shot by the Clippers' Chris Paul, helping the Lakers hold on Wednesday night at Staples Center to pull even in the Hallway Rivalry with one regular-season game to play.
Bynum made a few key late plays himself, including a short jumper and a block of DeAndre Jordan's shot with fewer than 30 seconds to play. Bynum finished with 19 points and six rebounds as the Lakers snapped their three-game losing streak.
The Lakers' Pau Gasol had 23 points on nine-for-13 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and Kobe Bryant added 24 points, making seven of 17 shots.
Blake Griffin scored 26 points for the Clippers but stepped out of bounds with his team trailing by only two points and 48 seconds remaining. Caron Butler and Mo Williams added 16 points each for the Clippers, who held their last lead after a Paul floater gave them an 80-79 advantage. Bryant followed with a jumper and then the Lakers added three more points from the free-throw line following a technical foul on the Clippers' Chauncey Billups.
Lakers forward Josh McRoberts picked up two technical fouls within a span of eight seconds in the final quarter and was ejected from the game.
Rookie Andrew Goudelock, supplanting Darius Morris as the Lakers' backup point guard, finished with a career-high 14 points on five-for-eight shooting. Goudelock collected more points in one night than he did in his team's first 18 games. No other bench player scored until World Peace knocked down his three-pointer that gave the Lakers an 87-82 lead.
Paul finished with four points and 12 assists in 28 minutes in his return from a hamstring injury that had sidelined him for five games.
Paul had missed the last five games because of a strained left hamstring.
Del Negro said he didn’t know how many minutes Paul would play.
“I kind of have it in my mind a little bit,” Del Negro said. “But I want to see how he feels after I sit down and talk to him a little bit.”
Del Negro said Paul was “a little bit more sore than he had been in the past” after Tuesday’s practice.
But Del Negro said Paul worked out at the team’s shoot-around Wednesday morning and before the game.
“But, I expect him to play,” Del Negro said. “How many minutes? I don’t know.”
-- Broderick Turner
Photo: Clippers guard Chris Paul. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images
At the Clippers' practice facility on Tuesday, forward Blake Griffin was told by a reporter that Lakers forward Matt Barnes was still accusing him of being a flopper.
"I don't really have much to say to him or to that," he said. "If he's mad that I tried to take a charge, then so be it.
"I'm not even going to get into trash talking and going back and forth about it; if that's what he feels, then that's what he feels."
The incident in question occurred during an exhibition game between the teams Dec. 21. Barnes, annoyed by Griffin's high-flying dunks and perceived boasting, shoved Griffin to the floor.
Griffin slid from inside the free-throw line to past the three-point line in what Barnes considered an Oscar-worthy performance.
"He's just an amazing athlete, can dunk, can do everything on the court -- he just flops and I don't understand; I don't get it," Barnes said of Griffin at a recent event at Staples Center.
The physicality continued when the teams played their first regular-season game against each other on Jan. 14.
The Lakers and Clippers combined for five technical fouls.
In one play late in the first quarter, Griffin pushed Lakers guard Darius Morris while he was attempting a dunk after the whistle was blown, sending Coach Mike Brown running onto the court screaming.
"I wasn't trying to hurt him," Griffin said Tuesday.
Bledsoe, a second-year player, has missed the entire season recovering from surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee.
Del Negro said he might not be able to play until February.
The coach said after practice Tuesday that the Clippers don’t have a timetable for sending Bledsoe to the D-League team in Bakersfield.
“We’re talking about seeing if he can go down and play a couple games maybe in the D-League and giving him some experience, in terms of just getting his mind right, getting some flow into the game,” Del Negro said. “We don’t have any practices and there’s no chance for him to get out there and play.”
-- Broderick Turner
Photo: Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
Clippers guard Chris Paul, who missed the last five games with a strained left hamstring, said it will be a game-time decision whether he'll play in Wednesday night’s game against the Lakers at Staples Center.
Paul said after practice Tuesday that he has improved each day, but that Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro wants to see how his All-Star guard feels after shoot-around Wednesday before they make a decision.
Paul said Tuesday was his first practice with the team since he was injured because the Clippers had days off or had games.
But he said he’s come in on some of those off days to train and to rehabilitate his hamstring.
“They are trying to protect me from myself,” Paul said. “I’ve been wanting to go for a while. But the team has been unbelievable in knowing what’s in my best interest. So, we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”
The Clippers were 3-2 in the games that Paul missed.
Paul was injured in the first game against the Lakers on Jan. 14.
If Paul plays against the Lakers on Wednesday, it would have been 11 days since his last game.
Paul downplayed that there is a rivalry between the Clippers and the Lakers despite his team winning the first regular-season game and both exhibition games.
“It’s fun. That’s all I can say on my end,” Paul said. “There’s excitement behind the city. This is my first time being a part of something like this in L.A.”
-- Broderick Turner
Photo: Clippers guard Chris Paul is assisted by medical personnel after suffering a hamstring injury against the Lakers on Jan. 14. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
In front of a sold out crowd of 19,060 at Staples Center, the Clippers beat the Raptors, 103-91.
It was a one-sided victory in which the Clippers never trailed and led by as many as 22 points.
They improved to 9-5 in their fifth game without All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who has been sidelined with a left hamstring sprain.
While the Clippers rested their starters, Mo Williams had a huge fourth quarter, scoring 19 points to finish the game with a team-leading 26 points on eight-for-15 shooting, including three for six from the three-point range.
The Raptors cut their deficit to 13 points at 86-73 with 8:14 left after Leandro Barbosa was shoved out of bounds by Chauncey Billups, who picked up a flagrant foul on the play.
Barbosa made both of his free throws, then hit a three-pointer on their ensuing possession.
But the Raptors couldn't get to within single digits.
Blake Griffin had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan had 16 points on seven-for-nine shooting, 16 rebounds and two blocks, all without playing in the fourth quarter.
Caron Butler, who missed Friday's game with a hyperextended right knee, and Randy Foye added 15 points apiece.
Clippers fans celebrated the victory by doing a stadium-wide wave for nearly a minute.
Barbosa led the Raptors with 19 points.
The Clippers have two days off before playing the Lakers on Wednesday.
Clippers 76, Raptors 58 (end of third quarter)
The Clippers extended their lead to 22 points early in the third quarter behind seven points from Randy Foye, solid shooting from Blake Griffin and a highlight reel dunk from DeAndre Jordan.
Chris Paul sat out his fifth straight game Sunday with a strained left hamstring.
But Caron Butler is playing against the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center after he missed Friday night’s game against Minnesota with a hyperextended right knee.
Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said Paul worked out Saturday at practice and that his All-Star guard "feels great."
But Del Negro doesn’t want to rush Paul back.
"I just think it’s the smart, prudent thing to do right ... to just kind of give him a couple more days and a couple more workouts," Del Negro said.
The Clippers have two days off before the play the Lakers on Wednesday in a home game for the Lakers.
Del Negro said after Paul practices Monday and Tuesday that they’ll see if the 6-foot guard can play against the Lakers.
-- Broderick Turner
Photo: 'Chris Paul chats with Clippers Coach Vinny del Negro. Credit: Don Ryan / Associated Press.
Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said Butler got an MRI on the knee Thursday that was negative.
Del Negro said Butler injured the knee during the Utah game Tuesday night, but played Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks, his former team.
Del Negro said “you could tell” Butler’s knee was bothering him against Dallas.
“He said feels a little bit better today,” Del Negro said. “But with this season and this stretch and things we’re on, I think it’s best to give him a little break tonight and hopefully he can get some therapy tonight and tomorrow and we’ll see how he feels on Sunday.”
The Clippers host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday at Staples Center.