Los Angeles-The Clippers ran into a road bump without their starting point guard Chris Paul, losing two out of the team’s last three games. Tuesday night against Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates proved to be a real barometer of how much the Clippers miss the playmaking of Paul. OKC brought their talents to the Staples Center, took names and kept it moving. Unfortunately for Clipper Nation, OKC took advantage of Paul’s absence on the floor and would up defeating the Clippers 109-97.
The question is who is going to step up their game and hold the fork down until the Clippers’ leader return to the lineup? Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro isn’t showing any remorse for recent losses. He needs other players to take the driver’s seat, immediately.
“Chris is going to goings be out,” Del Negro said. “Hopefully we get him back soon, but other guys have to step up.”
With all the talent that the Clippers have on the roster- any named called to fill in Paul’s shoes-should be ready. They’ve put together a great group of athletes that should be able take care of business. Paul is out until further notice with a bruised right knee cap, and someone will have to take care of his responsibilities while he’s out.
Clippers backup point guard Eric Bledsoe has the potential to be the facilitator in Paul’s absence. But on Tuesday, the Clippers only dished out 15 assists in the loss to Oklahoma. Perhaps this might be one of the reasons they lost the game. Paul can rack up 15 assists on any given night when he’s the distributor. Bledsoe will have to find ways to make plays on the floor.
Offensive woes shouldn’t be a problem for the Clippers; they have a lot of great shooters on the team. They’ll have to find ways the momentum going while Paul continues to get healthy. It doesn’t sound like Paul will be back anytime soon after Del Negro spoke to the media about being very over protective about his superstar.
“Chris is a tough guy. He’s a competitor. He wants to be out there, but we have to look at the bigger picture and protect Chris as well,” Del Negro said. “We have to give him rest.”
It only gets worse for the Clippers as they are set to play 10 of their next 11 games on the road. This will be a huge test for the Clippers. In order to become a championship contender they’ll need to pass tests like this. The ball is in their court, so we’ll see how they’ll react away from home without a player many believe could be the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award this season.
“Chris is the orchestrator. He’ll organize everything out there,” guard Jamal Crawford said. “There’s no way to replace him, but we’ll get it together.”