For once, things were going right for the Clippers. For one week, it seemed that all was well in Clips Nation. For one small period of time, I could truly look forward to watching the Clippers with hope that they could get into the playoffs.
Of course, it had to come crashing down. And the only viable explanation that I can offer is that "It's the Clippers. "Words that I have hated throughout my life now serve as the only explanation for a turn of events this awful to unfold.
Things seemed different around the Clippers, as Don McLean said. They were winning games that they used to give up, and they were playing with an attitude unlike that of any Clipper team in years. I bought it. I believed that things were truly changing with the Clippers after that win against the Lakers. They had played so well to beat the defending champs, albeit without Pau Gasol, but it was easily the best I've seen the Clippers play in years and the best I'd seen Baron Davis in a Clipper uniform. The momentum continued, and after an easy win over Miami the Clippers were one game below the .500 mark, which in recent years had seemed to be an insurmountable hurdle for the Clippers to jump over. I believed that they were finally going to get over it, with Baron Davis playing some of his best basketball in years and Chris Kaman elevating his play to all-star level.
Of course, this was all a cruel farce. Once again, unfortunate circumstances have presented themselves in the face of this seemingly cursed organization. Things started last night, when, in a strange turn of events, Chris Kaman tweaked his back during warm-ups. It seemed weird, but something that the Clippers could overcome. Marcus Camby played despite a stomach virus in the first quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Clippers were off to a hot start, poised to finally make it to .500. Even after Camby left the game, the Clippers continued to play well against a hot Grizzlies' team. The ailments that afflicted Kaman and Camby were blips on the radar in my mind, and in this new age of Clipper basketball would surely only keep them out for a short period of time. Plus, we had Blake Griffin ready to come back shortly. If the Clippers could pull out a victory in Memphis with virtually no big men, they would be at .500 and in position to make a legitimate run at the playoffs.
Then, all hell broke loose. And a water main, too.
In possibly the strangest turn of events I have ever seen while watching a basketball game, everyone was forced to evacuate FedEx Forum due to an emergency. The Clipper players got onto the bus in the cold night, and when they got back to the arena, they stayed cold, as Lisa Dillman of the LA Times put it. They were thoroughly outplayed by the Grizzlies in what was essentially the third half of the basketball game en route to a two point loss. Not only was the loss excruciatingly close, but the Clippers missed a number of wide open three pointers, shots that had been falling last week when all was well. Shots that would have given the Clippers their eighteenth win of the season.
Needless to say, I, as well as many other Clipper fans, were devastated. Not only had the Clippers blown an 18 point lead in a pivotal game, but their upcoming schedule didn't bode well for a team two games under .500 in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. With games against the suddenly hot Hornets, the defending champion Lakers, and the Cavaliers (who beat those defending champs quite easily on Christmas), the Clippers no longer looked poised to get to .500. To the contrary, they looked like 17-22 was a far more probable scenario. To be 5 games under .500 again seemed like too much to bear, especially with their leading scorer and rebounder on the the shelf in Chris Kaman. With the history of last year, I was much more inclined to believe that he would be out for the season than any short period of time. The Clippers looked like they were about to fall all the way down to the bottom of the hill they had just climbed up.
Today, though, I wasn't feeling nearly as bleak about the Clippers' outlook. I had slept off most of my worries, and looked forward to a good game against the Hornets tonight. Of course, the Clippers' troubles couldn't end with last night's shenanigans in Memphis. There had to be something more, and that something more was the unsettling news that Blake Griffin would have season ending knee surgery. The 2009-2010 campaign started off on the right foot, with the Clippers winning the draft lottery and securing the best player by far in the draft. Though it was unlikely that he'd have a huge impact in his rookie season, the prospect of him playing for the Clippers was exciting because he was sure to get the team some national attention and possibly a few wins. That bubble burst with the news that he'd miss the first six weeks of the season. Then, it got pushed back to mid-January, and we were still waiting for Blake Superior to get on the court, but we were hopeful.
The news of Blake Griffin's season ending surgery puts the metaphorical nail in the coffin of the Clippers' season in my opinion. With Deandre Jordan and Craig Smith likely starting tonight in New Orleans, I have little hope left for the Clippers, who had captured my affections for one brief week.
Which, unfortunately, brings me back to the title of the post. It's the Clippers. Things were supposed to be different, but I come to find that they never are with the Clippers. I'm left with this empty feeling in my stomach year in and year out because the Clippers' woes never cease to amaze me. Just when things look like they're going to brighten up, the forecast calls for a blizzard.
Welcome back, old Clippers. You weren't missed one bit.