The Clippers had a mini-celebration Thursday night after a rare feel-good moment after three weeks of drudgery.
But is this just a fleeting moment for a Clippers group dragging to the regular-season finish line or will it be sustained by a team in search of a lost spark?
The Clippers have 11 games left to see which direction they will be pulled. And then the playoffs — or the “real season,” as NBA aficionados like to call it — begin next month.
J.J. Redick’s game-winning jumper that pushed L.A. to a 96-94 win over Portland on Thursday night at Staples Center sent the Clippers into a wild chase for the shooting guard.
The Clippers had lost seven of their last 10 games before Thursday’s victory, with the grind of the season and playing 41 consecutive games without the injured Blake Griffin (torn left quad) taking a toll.
During their slump they lost at Memphis, an injury-ravaged team playing with former Development League players, and at New Orleans, another short-handed team because of injuries.
After losing to the Pelicans, Redick said: “It’s just the spirit’s not right.”
“We hope so,” Redick said. “We haven’t been very good.
“Going into tonight, I think we were 3-7 in our last 10. I don’t know if that’s the worst stretch of the season back to November. But it definitely felt like the worst stretch. A few of us talked after, just discussing that we didn’t want to be limping into the playoffs or anything like that. We want to be playing well.”
The Clippers had a three-week stretch in November when they went 3-8. They responded by going 6-1.
Now would be a good time for the Clippers to show a similar resolve.
“I think last year we were like 14-2 going into the playoffs in our last 16,” Redick said.
The Clippers didn’t practice Friday, but will be back at work Saturday in preparation for Sunday’s game at home against Denver.
The hope is that Griffin will play soon, although the Clippers still don’t have a timetable for his return.
For now, the Clippers hope the comeback win over Portland will lead to better results.
“Wins like this can catapult you,” Jamal Crawford said after he scored 25 points against Portland. “We had a wonderful stretch before this last [bad] stretch. So from there, we can recalibrate and get back on track.”
Clippers guard Chris Paul, who played through discomfort in his right knee Thursday against Portland, said Friday at the Cedars-Sinai Sports Spectacular Gala in Westwood that he was “a little banged up” but there was “no question” he would play Sunday against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. “Luckily, I got some treatment this morning,” Paul said. “Luckily, we don’t play [Friday]. One of the few nights we have off. Having [Saturday] off too I think will help me get ready for Sunday afternoon.”
Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter: @BA_Turner