They have been a resilient group all season, a testament to the mental fortitude the Clippers have exhibited under harrowing conditions.
The Clippers were tested again Thursday night when DeAndre Jordan went down and did not return after he sprained his left ankle during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings.
Again, the Clippers passed, pulling out the win without their defensive anchor and rebounding phenom.
“It’s been awesome,” Blake Griffin said late Thursday night. “Even games that we don’t win, we’re in the game most every time just because of our fight. Guys who weren’t even supposed to be on our NBA roster at the beginning of the season are coming up making big plays like they have been in the league for years.
“That’s awesome to see. I think that brings us closer together. Everybody is pitching in and everybody is playing hard.”
In the middle of all these troubling times because of so many injuries, the Clippers have won three consecutive games and seven of their last nine.
They are one game below .500 and could reach that point with a win over the Kings on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center.
If the 20-21 Clippers do become a .500 team Saturday, it’ll be the first time they will have been at that mark since Nov. 7, when they were in the midst of a free fall that saw them lose nine consecutive games as the injuries mounted.
But the Clippers are still standing tall.
“We’re just on the next man up,” said Montrezl Harrell, who embodied that with his season-high 25 points against the Kings while playing 16:22 of his 27 minutes in the second half after Jordan was injured.
“Everybody is locked in on what we’re supposed to do, both offensively and defensively. Everybody is just ready for that next-man-up mentality.”
After the game Thursday night, Jordan limped around the locker room.
On Friday, the Clippers listed him as questionable for the game against the Kings on Saturday.
Jordan, who has played in all 41 Clippers games this season, was in good spirits, though.
While getting a plate of food together after the game at Golden1 Center, Jordan and Griffin had this funny banter when the 6-foot-11 center was asked about playing in the next game.
“Blake, am I going Saturday?” Jordan asked Griffin.
“I don’t talk about internal team things while I’m getting food in the food line,” Griffin cracked, laughing along with Jordan.
“There you have it from Blake Griffin,” Jordan said, laughing.
Then Griffin gave his answer, playing the role of a doctor.
“He’ll be reevaluated [Friday)],” Griffin said, laughing, “and we’ll go from there.”
When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570, 1330.
Update: The Clippers and Kings are meeting for the second time in three days. The Clippers have won the season’s first three meetings against the Kings. The Clippers are 9-3 in their last 12 games, tying them with Miami, Golden State, Minnesota, Toronto and Boston for the best record over that stretch.