Clippers point guard Chris Paul goes after a loose ball against Blazers… (Rick Bowmer / Associated…)
The Clippers got to talking after a grind-it-out, low-scoring, defensive-oriented victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
In the Clippers' eyes, it was like a playoff game.
No, the Clippers aren't getting ahead of themselves with 21/2 months left in the regular season.
They were just commenting on the fact that some of them have never been in playoff games, but in the 74-71 victory over Portland the Clippers were able to find a way to stay the course despite being down by 18 points in the third quarter, playing on the road.
Chris Paul mentioned that Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes have never been in the playoffs.
Paul said they all got a taste of the postseason against Portland. Paul has been to the playoffs in four of his first six NBA seasons, all with the New Orleans Hornets. His Hornets took the Lakers to six games in the Western Conference first-round series.
"This was sort of like a playoff-type of game," Paul said after the game at Portland. "Good teams have to win games like this. Just find a way, find a way, because at the end of the day, it's just going to be in the win or loss column. Who won?
"Other people are going to talk about how bad of a game it was. But when we come out on the court against San Antonio Saturday, it's going to be the fact that we won this game. It ain't going to be how bad we played."
Paul was bad through the first three quarters, missing all seven of his shots, going scoreless. He even missed his only free throw, on a technical foul.
But Paul scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, accounting for 13 of the Clippers' final 18 points. He was five for eight from the field, one for three from three-point range, two-for-two from the free-throw line and had two assists, two steals and three rebounds in the quarter.
"Saturday night I could go out there and go 10-for-10," Paul said. "You just never know."
Clippers miss out on Smith
J.R. Smith chose to play for the New York Knicks over the Clippers, going for the more lucrative offer.
The Clippers could offer Smith only a prorated amount of the veteran's minimum, about $450,000.
Reports out of New York said the Knicks were able to offer Smith the mini-mid-level slot, worth $2.5 million but prorated to about $2.3 million. The Knicks also gave Smith a second-year player option at $2.4 million.
"It was just a financial thing," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "So we'll just move forward and look for ways to get better. But I'm happy with the team. We've just got a lot of work left to do."
Smith tweeted: "New York Knicks It Is!"
The Clippers worked out Michael Finley, Bobby Simmons, Jermaine Taylor, Kelenna Azubuike, Alan Anderson, Elijah Millsap and Julian Wright on Friday.