Chris Paul marinated in his fate as he sat on the Clippers’ bench while trainer Jasen Powell held his right wrist and tried to talk him through the situation. Paul shook his head, rose from his chair and kicked a seat cushion on his way to the locker room, seemingly aware of what the impending test would show.
Paul suffered a broken bone in his right hand midway through the third quarter Monday night at the Moda Center, an injury that could resonate well beyond the Clippers’ 98-84 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series.
“It obviously doesn’t look very good for him,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said of his All-Star point guard, who is expected to be re-evaluated Tuesday.
The Clippers are saddled with far bigger concerns than a series that is tied at two games apiece.
Forward Blake Griffin experienced soreness in the left quadriceps tendon that had sidelined him for more than three months earlier this season, and shooting guard J.J. Redick’s bruised left heel continued to be a game-long issue depriving him of any sort of rhythm.
Griffin tried to return to the game briefly in the fourth quarter but was hobbling and quickly departed. He said he hurt the quad in the third quarter while being fouled by Portland’s Mason Plumlee and would be re-evaluated Tuesday.
“Hopefully, in the next 24, 48 hours you turn the corner and feel better, so I’m not really concentrating on how I felt tonight,” said Griffin, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. “That’s kind of expected after you tweak something.”
“Obviously, people are going to write us off,” Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said, “but what are you going to do? Are you going to fight or run?”
Portland forward Al-Farouq Aminu helped ensure there would be a Game 6 back here Friday, shaking off his series-long shooting slump to score 30 points on 11-for-20 accuracy.
Paul broke the third metacarpal in his hand as Portland’s Gerald Henderson drove past him. Paul reached in with his left hand to swat away the ball and twisted his right hand awkwardly as it pressed against Henderson’s backside. Paul immediately winced, apparently realizing the potential severity of the injury.
The Clippers trailed by six points when Paul left the game and were within 66-64 entering the fourth quarter after Jeff Green’s three-pointer beat the buzzer to end the third quarter.
Clippers guard Chris Paul, right, broke his right hand on this play as he strips the ball away from Trail Blazers guard Gerald Henderson during the second half of Game 4.(Craig Mitchelldyer / Associated Press)
Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) dribbles around a pick as Trail Blazers guard Allen Crabbe (23) gives chase in the first quarter of Game 4.(Steve Dykes / Getty Images)
Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu (8) blocks the shot of Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) in the first quarter of Game 4.(Steve Dykes / Getty Images)
Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4) drives to the basket on Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) during the first quarter of Game 4.(Steve Dykes / Getty Images)
Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu, right, reacts after a dunk over Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) during the first half of Game 4.(Craig Mitchelldyer / Associated Press)
Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) dribbles past Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless (4) during the first half of Game 4.(Craig Mitchelldyer / Associated Press)
Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) is pressured by Clippers defenders DeAndre Jordan (6) and Chris Paul (3) in the first quarter of Game 4.(Steve Dykes / Getty Images)
Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) and Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) go after a loose ball in the first quarter of Game 4.(Steve Dykes / Getty Images)
Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu celebrates with a teammate after hitting a three-point shot in the first quarter of Game 4 against the Clippers.(Steve Dykes / Getty Images)
Nothing else went their way.
Paul scored the Clippers’ first 12 points and finished with 16 points and four assists in 24 minutes.
Redick’s heel appears to be regressing as the series deepens. He had 17 points in each of the first two games but turned in another clunker Monday, making three of 13 shots scoring eight points.
Rivers said players crowded into a trainer’s room after the game to visit Paul, who did not speak with reporters. The Clippers have gone 25-21 in the games Paul has missed since joining the team in December 2011 and are 1-1 without him in the playoffs, having split the first two games of the Western Conference semifinals last season.
“There’s nobody probably in the league that’s going to replace Chris Paul,” Rivers said, “so there’s nobody clearly on our team that’s going to do it. But as a group everybody pitches in.”
“He’s clearly disappointed, upset, but there’s nothing you can do,” Griffin said. “I mean, you try to tell a guy like that that it’s OK, we’ve got you and it’s OK, but he’s a competitor and he wants to play so it’s tough. It’s not easy dealing with injuries, especially this time of the year.”