Sneak-Up Games Are Thing of Past
It’s not unusual for the Clippers to be out of the playoff hunt at this point of the season. The difference now, however, is that the Clippers actually are considered capable of defeating the top teams in the Western Conference as they jockey for postseason home-court advantage.
Ask the Portland Trail Blazers, who already have lost twice to the Clippers this month.
“One thing we can always look at is that with everything so close in the West, we can play the role as spoiler,” Coach Alvin Gentry said before the Clippers lost to Sacramento in overtime Tuesday night.
Including their game against the Kings, 15 of the Clippers’ final 23 games of the season are against Western Conference teams still playing for playoff position. The only playoff-bound team in the West that doesn’t have to worry are the Lakers, who completed their four-game season series with the Clippers on Jan. 7.
“I wish people would look past us, but I don’t think we can sneak up on people anymore,” Gentry said. “Teams don’t do that now. They know they have to play hard against us, which I think is a compliment to our guys because, obviously, we’re not going to make the playoffs. Usually it is easy to play out the string, but you don’t see that with us. We’ve played hard every night.”
After starting Corey Maggette at power forward Monday against Dallas at Staples Center, Gentry went back with veteran Cherokee Parks against the Kings on Tuesday. It was Parks’ ninth start in 42 games since being acquired in a trade from Washington on Nov. 28.
The Clippers (20-40) have a chance for one of their best seasons since the team moved to Los Angeles in 1984. The 1991-92 team won 45 games, followed by the 1992-93 team (41) and the 1996-97 team (36 wins).