The Los Angeles Clippers got swept out of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs, but they can at least take pride in the fact that they gave the hottest team on the planet a serious scare.
Listening to Charles Barkley & Co. on the pregame show you would of thought the Clippers were going to lose by 30. They were given no chance, all the talk was about getting a good learning experience. Summer break was waiting, but just one problem with that scenario, no one told the Clippers players. In the end, they were just a couple of poorly executed plays by Chris Paul from taking game 4.
Paul did have his best game of the series, scoring 23 points and dishing out 11 assists. Somehow, someway he actually looked like he had an extra bounce in his step all night long.
Definitely give credit to team trainers Jasen Powell and Joe Resendez for getting Paul's strained hip flexor under control in the second game of a back to back. Blake Griffin added a new injury to his growing list - a punctured lip.
If there was a question out there about Griffin's drive to win big games, it was answered Sunday night. Seriously, the guy actually had a hole above his lip from where his tooth had broken thru the skin, and he looked like it didn't bother him at all. In fact, it may have jump started his game. He came out of the locker room after getting stitches and then slam dunked his way to 12 points in the third quarter.
In another positive, Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro had his best game on the sidelines.
Top move of the night was riding the hot play of Eric Bledsoe in the fourth quarter and giving Paul some much needed extra rest. In previous playoff games it didn't look like he trusted Bledsoe enough to let him play late into the final quarter.
As for the games final few seconds you can't fault the Clippers for putting the ball in Paul's hands.He was the best closer in the NBA this season and he deserved a shot to finish the upset of the Spurs.
Next season one can hope the Clippers develop more late game options, increased playing time for Bledsoe and that all Clippers big men become much better free throw shooters.
Till then, they can hold their heads high for achieving what few Clippers teams have done in the past.