So many bad things have happened to the Clippers that there are starting to be some redundancies.
They learned that reserve guard Austin Rivers had broken his hand, at a time when All-Star power forward Blake Griffin was already sidelined by a similar injury.
A day after receiving this latest bad news, the franchise did what has come naturally in recent years. The Clippers pushed on amid the hardship, a 100-93 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena the latest sign they won’t be deterred by another player going down.
“We told them [Saturday], whatever happens, we come to win, that’s the only thing we have to think about,” Coach Doc Rivers said after his team swept the Heat in a season series for the first time since 2006-07.
Point guard Chris Paul shrugged off a horrific start in which he missed his first nine shots to make two three-pointers in the final four minutes after the Heat had pulled to within three points.
Paul also threw a lob to DeAndre Jordan for a ferocious dunk before finishing the game with 22 points and seven assists. He made six of 10 shots in the second half and eight of 23 for the game.
Jamal Crawford scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, leading another strong effort by the Clippers’ bench. Cole Aldrich grabbed 11 rebounds in only 13 minutes, while Wesley Johnson and Lance Stephenson combined for 19 points on eight-for-10 shooting.
The Clippers reserves outscored their Heat counterparts, 46-25, keeping things close in the first half after the Clippers starters combined to miss 14 of their first 15 shots.
The one constant for the Clippers was their defense, a swarming, discombobulating force that left the Heat unable to articulate what was happening.
“I didn’t know what they were doing,” said Miami forward Chris Bosh, who needed 17 shots to score 17 points. “They were always just a step ahead of us. They took away quite a few things. We had too many possessions where we just came down and had one pass and a shot.”
The Heat threatened the Clippers’ plan to quickly depart the arena and board their charter flight to watch the Super Bowl on satellite television by intentionally fouling Jordan late in the third quarter. Jordan made two of six free throws before Doc Rivers yanked him in favor of Aldrich, allowing basketball to resume.
Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) drives to the basket against Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4) during the second half.(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford tries to drive past Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) and forward Chris Bosh, right, during the second half.(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)
Heat center Hassan Whiteside tries to track down a loose ball between Clippers forward Wesley Johnson (33) and center DeAndre Jordan (6) during the second half.(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)
Clippers forward Lance Stephenson elevates for a shot over Heat center Hassan Whiteside during the first half.(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)
Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) drives to the basket past Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) and forward Amare Stoudemire during the first half Sunday in Miami.(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers calls out instructions during the first half of a game Feb. 7.(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford pulls up for a jump shot against the Heat during the first half.(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)
Clippers guard J.J. Redick is fouled by Heat forward Chris Bosh while driving to the basket in the first half.(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)
Not even Miami’s players approved of a tactic that shaved only one point off their deficit.
“If you are worrying about DeAndre Jordan missing free throws for you to win a ballgame,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said, “then you have already been beat.”
The Clippers found out Saturday they would be without Austin Rivers for four to six weeks after an MRI exam revealed a broken left hand suffered Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The injury considerably thinned their guard ranks and left them without one of their feistier players.
“We’re really going to miss him,” Paul said. “He’s been unbelievable on the defensive end, on the offensive end with the pace. For us, once again, unfortunately, we’re sort of used to this now. Guys going down, and we realize we’ve just got to pick it up.”
The Clippers (34-17) just keep winning no matter who’s on the court. They have prevailed in 11 of their last 13 road games and are an unfathomable 17-4 without Griffin, who was sidelined by a quadriceps injury the day after Christmas and then punched a team assistant equipment manager late last month in Toronto.
There’s ample evidence to suggest the Clippers won’t buckle under these circumstances.
“We’ve got a lot of guys on our team that have got a lot of grit and a lot of perseverance,” Paul said. “For us, in all honesty, there’s nothing really that can happen that we haven’t sort of seen. We talk about it, then we move on.”