Any Clippers who carried a wallet-sized version of their team's schedule this season may have been tempted to ball it up and step on it in disgust at times.
They have endured an eight-game trip, a stretch of four consecutive games in different time zones and another wobbly legged period that forced the team to construct a free-throw lane with tape inside the locker room so players could conduct a hurried walk-through.
The final portion of their regular-season schedule could force mouths agape … with giddy delight.
Of the five Western Conference teams packed together like a family of five inside a studio apartment — only two games separated the teams seeded second through sixth before Thursday's games — the Clippers easily have the easiest remaining schedule.
The Clippers (50-26) will play only two of their six remaining regular-season games against teams with winning records. Portland (48-26) and Houston (52-24) will play four games against above-.500 teams, and Memphis (51-24) will play five such games and San Antonio (49-26) six.
That strength-of-schedule discrepancy could help the Clippers climb as high as second in the standings or, at the very least, obtain home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Clippers are currently in fifth place, two games behind second-place Houston and 1 1/2 games behind Memphis.
That strength-of-schedule discrepancy could help the Clippers climb as high as second in the standings or, at the very least, obtain home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers has vacillated in recent weeks about the importance of home-court advantage in a highly competitive conference.
"It's just talk, you know what I mean?" Rivers said Wednesday before his team rallied for a wild 126-122 victory over the Trail Blazers at Moda Center. "It would be great [to get home court]. If we don't get it, well, we're going to be OK."
Perhaps the most entertaining moment during the Chris Paul-Chris Kaman dust-up late in the third quarter Wednesday came when Clippers forward Glen Davis appeared to propel himself backward and onto his rear end after briefly becoming entangled with Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge.
Even Davis' coach laughed about it afterward.
"Baby, no comment," Rivers said, referring to Davis' nickname. "I just saw him flying. When I saw the refs look at me like, you've got to be kidding, I kind of had a feeling what happened."
Davis could be fined $5,000 after having already received a flop warning earlier this season.
Moving on out
Blake Griffin continues to extend the shooting range he had lost during his five-week layoff to have a staph infection removed from his right elbow.
The Clippers forward made two three-pointers as well two 20-foot jump shots and a 19-footer on the way to 24 points against Portland.
"I feel a lot more comfortable," said Griffin, who made 10 of 18, including his only two tries from three-point range. "The strength is pretty much there. Kind of where I expected to be at this point, so just trying to keep it that way."
The Clippers flew to Denver on Thursday and are expected to practice Friday before playing the Nuggets on Saturday.