He knows the scorching pain, both the physical and most devastatingly the psychological, from past experience in these situations. Chris Paul and the Clippers don’t do injuries very well in the post-season, partly the reason Paul and the Clippers habitually trip in the post-season.
And so, what do you do, if you’re Paul, when Blake Griffin once again proves fragile and limps to the locker room for good with bruised right big toe? There’s only one option: You play a Game 3 in April like it’s a Game 7 in June. You do whatever’s needed to avoid putting you and your team in a bind against the Jazz and risk hearing about and dealing with a repeat of playoff failure, easily the scarlet letter on your otherwise Hall-of-a-career.
Therefore, Paul was a man possessed Friday in a vocally-hostile Vivint Smart Home Arena, constantly sucker-punching the wind out of the home team, finally rising in the fourth quarter here in this building like no other playoff villain since — and this is no exaggeration — some guy pushed off on Bryon Russell at the top of the key.
Layups, jumpers, steals, pinpoint passes, it was all there in the clutch from Paul for the Clippers, now up 2-1 in the series after their 111-106 win. It was exhausting yet beautiful how it all unfolded, with Paul scoring 13 points in the final four minutes. And if you thought his energy and lungs were spent by then, think again.
“Yeah!” yelled Paul, as time expired. Then again, only louder: “Yeah!”
The only question now is, can he do it again if needed?
It’s a weird situation involving Griffin. He made an innocent-looking move in the second quarter, landed, and then immediately did a wincing bunny-hop, never a good sign. He turned and walked off the court with an injury that sounds harmless, but apparently it isn’t.