Chris Paul strains hamstring, heads to locker room, but returns


Here is how key Chris Paul has been to Los Angeles in the playoffs: When he’s been on the floor in the first six games the Clippers are +12, when he sits they are -17.

So when he pulled up with a strained hamstring late in the first quarter, all of Clippers nation held its breath.

Paul was leading a fast break when he reached back and grabbed his hamstring — it didn’t stop him from shouldering Patty Mills, creating space and draining a three. But he almost instantly went to the bench and put his head in his hands.

Then he went to the locker room.

He came back out eight minutes later, stretched on the bench for a second, then re-entered the game to a huge ovation from the fans. That said, he was clearly hobbling, not moving well at all. His lateral movement was noticeably slower.

Thanks to nine points from Jamal Crawford, the Clippers were only -2 with Paul out, staying right with the Spurs in a tight Game 7.

Jared Dudley can become a free agent, but says 80 or 90 percent chance he’ll return to Bucks


The Clippers could sure use a veteran presence like Jared Dudley on their bench this postseason, but Doc Rivers traded him to the Bucks last summer. And to hear Dudley’s explanation of his final season in Los Angeles, it seemed as though the decision by Rivers was somewhat personal.

“Here’s the thing with the Clippers,” Dudley said. “When I hurt my back in Vegas, I show up there in September trying to get with the training staff, and sometimes when you have an injury it leads to another injury, so basically I was nursing what I thought was tendinitis at the time in my knee, basically I really couldn’t bend my knee 90 degrees so I had to deal with that for the first month or so. I basically went to Doc Rivers and said, ‘Hey, I’ve never had to deal with this, I can’t bend my knee, all my shots are short, I can’t move laterally, I need to sit out.’ At that time Matt Barnes was out with a calf injury and J.J. Redick was out with a herniated disk and he said, ‘Hey, I need you to give me 10-15 games and when those guys come back, I’ll give you a rest.’

“Well, during that time I just couldn’t guard anyone. I couldn’t make a shot, all my shots were short and then confidence happened. By midseason, I get my X-ray and I had a little fracture in my knee so I knew what I was feeling was more than tendinitis. By midseason, [Rivers] brings in [Danny] Granger and I was sent to the pine. The trade [to Milwaukee] was the best thing for my career, where I got with a training staff that got me healthy and when I’m healthy, I’m the player you see now and the player you saw in Phoenix.”

“I talked to Doc maybe a week and a half before I got traded,” Dudley told Zach Lowe on his Lowe Post podcast on Grantland. “That was in August. He was basically like, ‘Hey, you’re young. I don’t know what happened this season.’ I basically told him, ‘You know what happened. I wasn’t right and I thought I would be able to come back.’ “

That seems like a bridge burned by Rivers, but Dudley has found a home in his first season in Milwaukee. And though he has a player option for next season, even if he chooses to become an unrestricted free agent, Dudley feels as though the odds favor a return to the Bucks next season.

From Charles Gardner of the Journal Sentinel:

“All signs you would think are for me to come back here,” Dudley said, “even if I did opt out. I think my value is at my biggest high here. Even though as a vet I could play for a contending team, I think this has been my most gratifying season.

“Taking a team that was 15 wins to 41 wins, I was here for the beginning of it. I was here to help it. I think it’s hard for Milwaukee to find vets that want to come here, that want to be a role guy. …

Dudley, acquired in an off-season trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that also netted the Bucks a protected 2017 first-round pick, said he thought there was an 80 or 90% chance he would return next season.

“I don’t think it should be a problem,” he said. “I don’t think I’m someone who is overly greedy.”

Dudley’s player option is for $4.25 million for next season. It seems as though he wants to stay with the Bucks, but if he chooses to take the early termination option on his deal, he could realistically end up on a longer-term deal playing for someone else.

Dudley averaged 7.2 points on 46.8 percent shooting, while playing 23.8 minutes per contest in 72 regular season appearances for the Bucks this season.

PBT Extra: Can Clippers build on Game 6 win?


The Clippers were impressive in their Game 6 win. After five games where the Clippers struggled to close out games — particularly Blake Griffin, who was 4-of-21 shooting in the fourth in games 1-5 — they out executed the defending champions down the stretch in Game 6. Griffin was phenomenal on both ends, shooting 3-of-3 in the fourth quarter plus having a big block on Tim Duncan.

Can the Clippers do that again? Can they build on that momentum? That’s what Jenna Corrado and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

I think the Clippers can do it again. Still, this game is going to be a coin flip.

Clippers’ Glen Davis questionable for Game 7 vs. Spurs


The Clippers are a team built on the strong foundation of their starting lineup, and once you get past Jamal Crawford, there are few if any reliable reserves to be found.

Besides Crawford, only Austin Rivers and Glen Davis have played double-digit minutes consistently off the bench in the first round of the playoffs against the Spurs, and after Davis left Game 6 with an ankle injury, his status is in doubt for Saturday’s Game 7.

From Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:

Los Angeles Clippers forward Glen “Big Baby” Davis is questionable for Saturday’s Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs with a left ankle sprain.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Davis would be a game-time decision with the team not holding a practice Friday or shootaround on Saturday. …

“I don’t know how serious it is. I know Big Baby’s a worker,” Chris Paul said. “Guys stepped up when he went down, but we need him. We need him. Baby’s an emotional leader for our team. He really leads that second unit, and we have an amazing training staff, I think the best training staff in the league. Those guys will get him ready to go by Saturday.”

Paul’s overly-optimistic remarks show just how important Davis is to the rotation.

He’s the only big man to come off the bench for the Clippers thus far in the playoffs, and though Davis is only averaging 12.5 minutes per contest, L.A. needs to not be too undersized out there during the brief moments that Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan come out of the game to get some rest.

In a Game 7, though, with the season literally on the line, Doc Rivers may just choose to play his starters even heavier minutes than usual.

Doc Rivers on Clippers-Spurs: ‘It’s ridiculous that it’s a first-round series’


The Clippers, factoring tiebreakers, had the NBA’s fourth-best record. The Spurs ranked sixth.

Yet, in a 16-team playoff, they’re playing each other in the first round – and one of them will be done Saturday (or early Sunday if Gregg Popovich keeps having San Antonio intentionally foul DeAndre Jordan).

Clippers coach Doc Rivers, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“It’s ridiculous that it’s a first-round series,” Rivers told Yahoo Sports late Thursday. “That was the first thing Pop said to me before Game 1, and I said the same thing. But we both decided, ‘What the hell, it is what it is.’ But this is ridiculous.”

Rivers is right, as is his case that the NBA shouldn’t reward division winners so generously.

The 51-win Trail Blazers jumped the 55-win Grizzlies and 55-win Spurs for the No. 4 seed, because Portland won the Northwest Division and was therefore guaranteed a top-four seed. Not only did that punish San Antonio, which would have had an easier matchup and home-court advantage against the Grizzlies in the 4-5, it punished the Clippers, who have to play the Spurs instead of the Trail Blazers.

Does anyone care enough about Portland’s division title to scramble the playoff seeding? Would anyone care less if division winners didn’t get that advantage?

Of course, removing division winners’ advantages would only do so much. The bigger issue is the conference disparity, but there’s no easy fix there.

Eliminating conference distinctions in the playoffs would – or at least should – mean balancing the schedule. But that would mean players having to travel more, lower TV ratings due to more games played outside the visiting team’s time zone and fewer teams from the Eastern Conference – which holds more large markets – in the postseason. There are economic factors in play beyond what’s most fair.

But, no, it isn’t fair that the Clippers or Spurs will be eliminated so soon. That’s why the NBA is looking into changing the playoff format.