Chris Paul tries to evade the double-team defense of Spurs point guard Tony… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Clippers guard Chris Paul remained so tormented by his team’s four losses to the San Antonio Spurs that he felt the urge to immediately call General Manager Neil Olshey, even if it was around midnight.
Olshey said Monday morning that his star point guard called him shortly after the Clippers' 102-99 Game 4 playoff loss Sunday to make sure he knew that “this isn’t going to happen again.”
“I talked to him, thanked him for the opportunity, and told him that I hated how it ended,” Paul said at the Clippers' practice facility. “I didn’t think we should have been swept. I told him, ‘I’ll get better.’”
That was part of Paul’s mantra Monday, as he took the blame for his team's getting swept out of the Western Conference semifinals. Throughout the Clippers' series with the Spurs, he refused to use his strained right hip flexor as an excuse for his play.
Paul had averaged just 9.3 points per game in the series before Sunday’s breakout performance. In Game 4 he led the team in scoring with 23 points and helped it surge into the lead several times in the second half. He was unable, however, to convert on two late drives to the basket that could have tied the score or given the Clippers the lead.
Thus the phone calls to Olshey and Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro.
“He called me and all that, but Chris has nothing to apologize for,” Del Negro said. “Chris is a phenomenal competitor, phenomenal player, one of the top players in the league. We’re not in the second round of the playoffs for sure without Chris Paul, and like I said, I’d go to battle with him every day.”
Olshey said that when Paul called him, the guard “already wanted to start talking about what we need, what we need to add,” which led the general manager to tell reporters that the star he signed is indeed “all in.”
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