Coach Vinny Del Negro tries to rally the Clippers in the final minutes of… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Not back to Memphis again.
The Clippers have been eliminated, so why are we going back to that sewer? It's over.
The Clippers were physically spent Friday night; they probably will be emotionally empty Sunday.
The big moment has eluded this team all season long. The Clippers could not beat the Lakers with the tiebreaker on the line, couldn't win the home-court advantage down the stretch and failed to take advantage of 3-1 edge against the Grizzlies.
So why should anyone think they have any kind of chance against Memphis in Game 7?
They blew it. And what a waste of a season that had so many promising starts, and then stops.
Maybe it's different. Shoot, it is different if Chris Paul is himself, but his body failed him.
He didn't score in the first quarter, closed with one point in the fourth and that's not the Paul who changed the way people started to regard this franchise.
He tried to force the action late and turned the ball over, his
mistakes securing Memphis' victory.
He's going to Memphis and not Lourdes, so he's not going to be much better. It's over.
What a letdown, and I'm not talking about the Clippers. The fans had to be coaxed and begged into cheering for a team that sorely needed a lift. It was like they knew they were going to leave disappointed.
Maybe it's because the Clippers fell behind so early. Maybe it's because everyone could sense Paul wasn't the same. Maybe everyone is worried about the Lakers.
It was such a big game, so why did they have the NBA's worst referee crew working it? These refs were so bad, one of them, Marc Davis, emphatically called a
technical foul on Reggie Evans
for giving a high-five to his teammate.
Every time Davis blew his whistle he found a new way to give the advantage to Memphis.
If there is any justice, the NBA eliminates Davis from the playoffs before the Clippers are officially declared goners.
This was supposed to be one of the biggest games in franchise history, but the Clippers played as if they were in slow motion. Why were they pacing themselves?
Obviously Paul and Blake Griffin were tentative, checking out their injuries and seeing what they could get from their bodies. But with the exception of Evans, why did everyone else shut it down?
Randy Foye appeared to injure his hamstring early and later missed several shots that might have inspired a miracle finish.
Mo Williams quit on this team long ago, his body language dreadful and his aim worse, making one of seven shots.
But what was Coach Vinny Del Negro doing? He had the scrubs in the game, and while they gave the Clippers a nice pop, didn't he understand this was the Clippers' season?
"I was trying to manage Chris' time," Del Negro said.
Eric Bledsoe was so tired he almost had to be carried off the floor. It was 76-68 Clippers, and then just like that it was Memphis on top 78-76.
"I'll have to look at the film," said Del Negro, who was as spent as his players.
But how do you let a fourth-quarter lead get away in game that you absolutely have to win or the season is over?
The next round was right there, and then it wasn't.
"I'm not dead," said Paul in trying to make a case for a Clippers' rebound, and yeah, Elvis is still alive too.
AS IF the Clippers' general manager needed any more incentive to start looking for a new coach, he has this disappointment to make his case.
It's no secret to anyone who has spent time around the Clippers that General Manager Neil Olshey is not one of Del Negro's biggest fans. No one knows better how to self-destruct than the Clippers.
Del Negro is not under contract for next season although the Clippers have the option to retain him.
Olshey spends a lot of time with the national media, just a coincidence probably that someone in the national media speculated earlier Del Negro was on his way out after losing the team.
Owner Donald Sterling saved the day by saying Del Negro was his coach the rest of the way, but now something just doesn't look right.
Throughout this series Olshey has been spending time with Memphis' top assistant coach Dave Joerger, making some wonder if he's already found his next coach.
At the very least it's unseemly to have a team's GM schmoozing with the opposition's top strategist while a few feet away the Clippers are going through pregame drills.
"I don't care about appearances," said Olshey, or apparently what they mean to Del Negro as he tries to focus on the playoffs.
Doesn't it look bad given Del Negro's tenuous situation?
"Who says Vinny's situation is tenuous?" Olshey said.
So does that mean Del Negro is returning as coach?
"I'm not answering," Olshey said. "Our broadcasters play golf with their broadcasters before games. Is that unseemly?"
If you have to explain to a NBA GM the difference between the team's broadcasters schmoozing with their opposite numbers and regular meetings between GM and a prospective coaching candidate, maybe the franchise really isn't ready for prime-time exposure.
"If you don't like what you're seeing, you're welcome to your opinion," Olshey said.
Good luck, Vinny.
I KEEP seeing Magic Johnson on NBA broadcasts. I thought we were going to see him every night at Dodger Stadium.
SHOULDN'T THE national anthem singer for the Clippers' game, Abraham McDonald, take off his hat as well?
I OWE an apology to Andrew Bynum for criticizing him for parking in handicapped spots. Anyone as immature as he has been is much more handicapped than anyone who would ordinarily park there.