PORTLAND, OR—Just two games ago the Los Angeles Clippers were rolling and looked to be on their way into the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Around 10:00 p.m. on Monday, April 25, that vision appeared to be a distant memory.
The Clippers shot an abysmal 35.7 percent from the floor and lost to the Trail Blazers 98-84 in Portland. The loss meant that the series is now tied 2-2 as the teams travel back to Los Angeles for Game 5 at the Staples Center.
Unfortunately, for the Clippers they may have lost more than just Game 4. During the 3rd quarter, Clippers point guard and team leader Chris Paul grabbed his right hand after reaching for a steal. He immediately motioned to the bench for a sub to replace him as he knew something was wrong. He proceeded to walk to the locker room with obviously dejected emotions.
Clippers fans held their breath, hoping that nothing serious had happened to their star point guard. Then the news broke.
Paul fractured the third metacarpal in his right hand, seemingly sidelining him for at least some period of time.
“I talked to him, and he’s clearly disappointed,” said Blake Griffin in a press conference after the game. “There’s nothing you can do. You try to tell a guy like that, ‘It’s OK, we got you and it’s going to be OK,’ but he’s a competitor. He wants to play. It’s not easy dealing with injuries, especially at this time of the year.”
According to reports, Paul underwent surgery on the hand on Tuesday and will miss the remainder of the NBA Playoffs. He will be re-evaluated in 4-6 weeks.
Griffin is dealing with his own injury as he tweaked the same quad that has been hampering him throughout the season. Just minutes after Paul left the game, Griffin followed suit. He returned for a brief stint before, ultimately, sitting out the remainder of the game.
“I could feel it, but hopefully, in the next 24 hours or 48 hours you turn a corner and feel better,” said Griffin.
Unfortunately, for Griffin and the Clippers, Blake will not turn that corner. According to the Los Angeles Clippers and ESPN sources, Blake Griffin will be shut down for the remainder of the playoffs. There was no structural damage and he will be healthy and ready to go at the start of training camp.
With the series tied 2-2 and returning to Los Angeles, the Clippers will now face an uphill battle without their top two players. It will take a collective effort from every guy in that locker room if they hope to have any chance to move past the Trail Blazers and into round two where they will inevitably have to face the Golden State Warriors.
Tip-off for Game 5 is set for 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27 at the Staples Center.