Column: Chris Paul’s injury is the worst blow as Clippers suffer a blowout

Chris Paul’s loss changes Clippers’ thoughts of a Warriors series

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)

The seat cushion never had a chance.

It bore the wrath of Chris Paul, kicked squarely off the floor and under the Clippers’ bench as their one-man engine angrily left Monday’s game with a fractured third metacarpal in his right hand.

There was no denying it — a devastating blow for the Clippers on a night they got blown out by the Portland Trail Blazers, 98-84, to even a first-round playoff series at two games each.


“It obviously doesn’t look very good for him,” said a somber Clippers Coach Doc Rivers. “For this to happen to him, he’s a very emotional guy…. The whole team was in the training room. It’s nice in that way, but the reality is you don’t have Chris Paul.”

It started out a game. It became a series of long walks to the locker room.

Paul appeared to get his finger stuck in the back of Gerald Henderson’s jersey while stripping the ball with his other hand midway through the third quarter.


The Clippers’ night somehow worsened when Blake Griffin left in the fourth quarter because of a sore left quadriceps, an injury in the same region costing him three months earlier this season.

“It doesn’t look great for him either,” Rivers said, though Griffin seemed more of the day-to-day variety while Paul could miss several weeks.

It’s now silly for the Clippers to think about Stephen Curry’s availability in the next playoff round. Especially if they don’t get there.

Even before Paul’s injury, there was no urgency from the Clippers, a startling reality knowing Golden State’s Curry would miss at least two weeks because of a sprained knee.

The Clippers had only 26 points midway through the second quarter as J.J. Redick missed his first six shots and Griffin missed his first four.

Luckily for the Clippers, there was Paul. While his teammates started out 0 for 13 (not a typo), he was a pristine six for six to prevent an early blowout.

Griffin never found his shot (six for 15), DeAndre Jordan airballed consecutive free throws and Redick made three of 13 attempts while trying to get past his own injury — a bruised heel.


The game ended with Griffin massaging his left leg on the bench and Redick next to him with his face buried in his hands.

Paul was obviously the bigger loss, leaving with 16 points, four assists and three steals in almost 25 minutes.

“As teammates, we’ve got his back,” Griffin said, but unfortunately for the Clippers, it won’t matter if Paul doesn’t come back.

“They’re a different team without him,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said, perhaps knowing the Clippers were 3-5 during the regular season without Paul.

The Clippers pledged to be more physical Monday after getting outrebounded by 12 in Game 3. They’ll have to pledge it again after getting outrebounded by 16 in Game 4.

Wasn’t it just last week that the Clippers pounded Portland by 20 and 21 points in the first two games?


The good news for the Clippers is a return to Staples Center for Game 5 on Wednesday. Portland has lost nine consecutive road playoff games. The bad news for the Clippers is returning here for Game 6.

This isn’t the first time Rivers has been on the wrong side of injuries with playoff teams he’s coached.

He still sometimes wonders what might have happened if bruising Boston center Kendrick Perkins doesn’t get hurt early in Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals, forcing aging veteran Rasheed Wallace into the starting lineup for Game 7 in Los Angeles. The Lakers won both games.

Now there’s this.

TNT analyst Kevin McHale, not a doctor but a former rough-hewn player who sustained his share of injuries, said what every Clippers fan dreaded.

“You can’t play through that,” McHale said on TV as news of the injury made its way out of the locker room. “I don’t see him being able to play through that injury.”

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan


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