Like many fans, I went into Game 4 expecting the Clippers to take a decisive strangle hold on the series, winning Game 4 and setting themselves up for a close out game back in Los Angeles on Wednesday. It was all the more imperative that the Clippers close out the Blazers quickly, if they wanted to try an maximize whatever length of time Steph Curry may be out for the 2nd round. As I have been guilty of since before the end of the regular season, I started to overlook the Blazers; hell I even wrote an article about why the Clippers should prefer the Blazers in the first round. Against my better Clipper instincts, I believed that this would be their year, and I allowed myself to believe they could get it all done and maybe, just maybe, win the championship, or at least make the Western Conference Finals. I was so confident I may have done something stupid:
I just bought Warriors Second Round Game 2 tickets. Don't fail me Clippers— Larson Ishii (@KingLarsonal) April 25, 2016
Unlike many Clipper fans, I had to work late Monday night and knew that I wouldn't be able to watch the Clipper game live. I recorded the show and stayed off my phone, not wanting twitter or anyone to spoil the game before I got home to watch it. While on the train, after the 6th text and 5th tweet consisting solely of Chris Paul and some expletives, I knew something was really really bad. As I broke my fast and caught up on what had happened in the game, my heart sunk; the depression from fellow Clipper fans was palpable and transferable. Knowing what was in store for me at home, I couldn't turn back and just avoid the game -- I needed to confront the worst and let the experience wash through me to get to the final stage of acceptance.
I'm about to watch this Clipper game and hope everyone in the world was trolling me. Please send prayers— Larson Ishii (@KingLarsonal) April 26, 2016
So with In-n-Out on hand, and putting on Rawls' Veil of Ignorance, here is my fan oral history of watching Game 4 of the Clippers Blazers series.
11:41 – Did DeAndre Jordan just drive it to the hoop?? Who does he think he is, Mason Plumlee?? Not a great start.
10:51 – Redick looks gimpy, like an old man needing a cane; the Blazers are packing the paint; Lillard just dribbled off his knee; Aminu just hit a 3 – this game is drunk.
10:30 – Thank god for Chris Paul.
9:45 – Aminu just hit his second three and I'm fine with it. Take that shot all night Aminu, it's a win for the Clippers.
9:19 – HAHA! KEEP CHUCKING AND MISSING THREES AMINU!
7:45 – Chris Paul is literally the only good thing about the Clippers to start this game. Portland's role players are carving up the Clipper defense when made into play makers, meanwhile we have Luc Mbah A Moute driving to the hoop and getting blocked. What the hell are the Clippers doing.
7:25 – Blake has missed two easy shots near the basket. They need Playoff Blake to dominate like Game 1.
6:30 – Portland 12 Chris Paul - 8. Point God might need to put the team on his back for this game.
5:24 – Redick just looks off. Mis-dribbling, hobbling around picks, missing shots he would make in his sleep. If his heel is going to mess him up this much the Clippers offense is going to struggle. Really need to lock in on defense and not treat the Blazers like a 2 man team.
4:08 – Chris Paul is doing everything tonight – literally all 12 points. I don't even think Dame has taken a shot yet. Unrelated, Jeff Green got a rebound and I honestly didn't know he was on the court; sums up my expectations for Jeff Green this game.
3:50 – C.J. McCollum almost just got sawed in half on that 3 point attempt.
3:35 – Jeff Green just bobbled an uncontested rebound out of bounds. After he got blocked by Mason Plumlee. Are we sure he's not really just Lance Stephenson in disguise? Is that disguise what a First Round pick buys you these days?
2:30 – I honestly don't think anyone wants to score. Everyone's like here's an easy layup. Nah. Here's a open jumper. Brick. This game sucks.
2:07 – Does anyone remember the last time Jeff Green went something other than 1-2 at the free throw line? Serious question.
1:15 – Austin Rivers and Cole Aldrich check in and the Clippers score. Coincidence? I think not.
0:45 – You sub Wes out for Luc Doc? (I'm proud that sentence only had words with 3 letters btw). It's not like Jeff Green has been TERRIBLE or anything as he gets stripped driving to the hoop. I'm starting to want Paul Pierce to check in *shudder.
0:36 – I wonder if Doc ever just makes Dad jokes in the locker room. Like just to mess with Austin. It'd be funny.
0:25 – I take it all back Jeff. Maybe this will be one of those weird games you put up 20. Please God.
0:00 – Only down 24-20 after a quarter in which Jeff Green was maybe the Clippers worst player, while being their second leading scorer. I'll take it. Somebody is going to need to help Chris Paul out this game, he's carrying the team right now; not sure how sustainable that is for him. Once again: this game sucks
12:00 – Damnit Doc! When I said I wanted Pierce I was just kidding. Don't actually put him in the game.
No, I can talk myself into this – veteran presence in a game that's looked haggard and ugly... he can hit some shots and settle everyone down. Also why the hell are we still playing full-bench lineups in the playoffs?
11:24 – Did Jeff Green just make 2 free throws? I wasn't paying attention. I'm gonna assume no. *checks score. Yup, no.
10:20 – Are the Clippers running their offense through Jeff Green? Like what is this? Is McCollum defending him or just getting switched on to him. Still. I'd rather run the offense through Jamal or Austin or even some Cole post ups. Jeff is literally my 4th option for this all bench lineup. Tied for 4th, I might take Pierce post ups instead of Green post ups.
8:45– Just a reminder this game sucks. I don't think anyone on the Clippers can hit a shot, luckily neither can Portland. This bench might need to sub Pablo in for Pierce and just run spread pick and roll to death to gain some type of offensive identity or maybe just run something that resemble a coherent play.
6:45 – I figured it out. No one can hit a shot because of the sleeves on the Rip City jerseys. This is Portland's fault. Also this game sucks.
6:41 – Double Technical foul on Jordan and Davis. Double technicals may be one of the dumbest calls in basketball. Make a decision or just do nothing.
4:34 – BA3 BA3 BA3! Now we're in business.
4:14 – DJ BLOCK! WE'VE GOT LIFE ONLY DOWN 3.
2:45 – NO JAMAL NO JAMAL DON'T TAKE THAT PULL UP.... YES JAMAL YES JAMAL YES JAMAL! 6TH MAN OF THE YEAR!
2:36 – Stotts hacking right when the Clippers are going on a run. Stotts hacking cuz the Blazers can't play defense. Stotts hacking cuz he hates children.
2:36 – OMG DJ just air balled two free throws. That is.......... not good.
1:55 – I understand you're worried about the 3, but man Jamal you can't get back cut that badly by Lillard. And where was the help?
1:45 – I don't like sitting DJ here to stop the hacking. But DJ did airball 2 free throws... But I don't like it. Seems like an over reaction. Trust DJ cuz they need his defense.
1:29 – Did CJ McCollum just do the Harden cooking celebration?? BAN HIM. BAN HIM FROM THE GAME. PORTLAND FANS SHOULD AGREE.
1:15 – Blake Griffin's going to need a chiropractor for whiplash for as much as he sells contact in the paint. I didn't know that head is connected to the shoulder.
0:24 – Lillard waltzed down the lane, missed a layup, they got an offensive rebound, then killer Lillard 3. If only the Clippers had a rim protector and great defensive rebounding center to put on the court.
0:00 – The Clippers (not including Chris Paul) have played like s#!t, are probably shooting like negative 40%, and are only down by 4 points. They are 100% in this game and can definitely win it in the second half. They need to not act like the Blazer role players are invisible on defense, and need to start getting into some type of offensive rebound. Each team is playing so badly though that it's kind of hard to make a judgment. If we could just throw away that 1st half and forget about it everyone might be better off; that was UGLY basketball. This game sucks.
11:14 – DUKE on DUKE violence with Plumlee charging into Redick. Coach K must be so proud.
10:00 – Hey this looks like basketball! Good job both teams! Good job!
9:00 – I honestly never think Aminu's shot are going in. Let him keep shooting.
8:43 – Quick timeout by Doc after a turnover. I'm sure he's trying to prevent a run and impart how important this 2nd half is going to be for the series.
8:15 – Blake hit that 3, but man the Blazers defense has been great. Really stifling, helping at the right times, utilizing their length to be bothersome. Great adjustments by Stotts.
7:40 – My God DeAndre makes blocks that few others in the league can make.
7:20 – Oh no, Hyland rolled an ankle. Hopefully he walks it off. The last thing the Clippers need is injuries especially with Redick hobbled.
6:19 – I have NEVER seen J.J. miss back to back wide open threes. His heel must be worse than CM Punk -- though to be clear I love Punk.
6:09 – Damnit Aminu hit another three. I think that's 4. Maybe we should start guarding him? Naw.
6:07 – Wait Paul is walking to the bench holding his hand. What happened? Is he hurt? I didn't even see him involved in anything. He's clutching his wrist? Maybe his hand? Did it happen on the Henderson strip? Commercial break coming at the worst time, I NEED ANSWERS.
6:07 – Is it his wrist? It looks like he's holding his wrist. Wait why is he getting up. Is he going to the locker room? S#!t he just screamed at the floor and kicked a seat cushion. S#!T S#!T S#!T. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED! THIS DOESN'T LOOK GOOD. Jason Powell is looking at it, I'm sure all Clipper fans and Big Baby are reassured.
5:50 – Blake hit another jumper. He's going to need to carry the team until Paul gets back. Hopefully it's not anything serious. His reaction looked bad.
5:20 – 2 point game. We can do this. We can do this. WE CAN DO THIS!
4:55 – What the hell is this some type of Al Farouq Aminu revenge game? Is he still mad he got traded for Chris Paul. Is this what is called regression to the mean. Stupid analytics.
4:34 – Blake is cooking. This is the best his jumper has looked. Run the offense through Playoff Blake.
3:30 – Every time this game the Clippers have made a run the Blazers have had an answer with a back breaking 3 or a layup off a turnover. They need to step up on the defensive end if they're ever going to catch them. And play smarter on defense. Also, is it Paul's hand?
2:56 – Wait I'm so confused. I just watched that replay of Paul stripping Henderson like 10 times. Paul swung down with his left hand, not his right. I can't even see when he hurt his right hand, but he grimaced after the strip. He kinda jammed it into Henderson's back. Hopefully he just jammed or sprained a finger? But then why was he so upset and takING himself out of the game?
2:30 – Austin Rivers has been terrific on defense this game. Terrific. Going to need more of that and Heat Check Playoff Austin if Paul is out the rest of this game.
2:17 – Wait why is Paul Pierce in for DeAndre Jordan. We're getting killed on offensive boards. WHATT???
1:05 – Man Jamal has been the bad Jamal tonight. I can't believe I'm saying this, but give the ball to Jeff Green.
0:45 – Austin Rivers has Damian Lillard in a straight jacket and it's wonderful to watch.
0:36 – There's this guy named Blake Griffin on the floor Jamal, YOU DON'T NEED TO CHUCK.
0:00 – JEFF GREEN JUST HIT A 3! JEFF GREEN IS HAVING A JEFF GREEN GAME! JEFF GREEN MIGHT CARRY US TO THIS WIN! 2 POINT GAME. WE GOT THIS. (also, is Wesley Johnson dead?)
12:00 – We're still doing this all bench thing? I would criticize it, but like the bench has played better than a lot of the starters. Well not many people have really played well. I'd put DJ back in the game now, since he got subbed out early.
10:55 – Man when the Clippers defense has been set this second half, it has been suffocating. They need to find some offensive consistency and not have Jamal shoot them out of the game. Give the ball to, gulp, Jeff Green.
10:54 – CHRIS PAUL BROKE HIS HAND. EVERYONE PANIC. CHRIS PAUL BROKE HIS HAND. S#!T F@#* S#!T F*#&. CHRIS PAUL BROKE HIS FREAKIN' HAND. THIS IS MY FAULT. I JINXED US. OUR SEASON IS OVER.
Can someone play basketball with a broken hand? Like the replay didn't look that bad. Paul must have known, and that's why he was so upset. Caron Butler did that a couple years ago? But I think that was his pinkie finger. And not his shooting hand. Damnit.
What's up with the Clippers and broken hands? This makes the third. Our season is over. Blake is still working with a tear in his quad. He can't morph in the Flying Lion and take over the playoffs like last year. That really would be our only shot.
Maybe we can win this game and get a Jamal going for 50 to close out the series. Oh god. Our season is over.
We've had terrible Game 5s and Game 6s, now we have a terrible Game 4?
I blame Steph Curry for starting this bad mojo.
10:26 – Wait Blake is hurt now too and is going to the locker room? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?! Did he re-injure his quad? That would be the worst, Blake out for the season too after hurting his quad. Potentially losing Blake and Chris for the rest of the playoffs on the same night. I can't deal with this.
9:59 – Doogie is down! Ed Davis just like body slammed him. Now we're going to lose our backup point guard/ human flamethrower Austin Rivers. When it rains it Memphis Grizzlies.
That should 100% be a flagrant foul on Ed DAvis. He climbed a turn buckle, riled up the crowd, then dove on to Austin Rivers doing his best Rey Mysterio impression after being faked out.
OH NO BLAKE DID HURT HIS QUAD AGAIN! At least he's back on the bench. He's stretching it out, but he may be done for the night. We need him for this game.
8:40 – The Clippers have just stopped running an offense. They look so terrible without Paul.
7:27 – Offensive rebounding by Portland is KILLING the Clippers. As well as having Paul Pierce and Jeff Green and Jamal Crawford try and play any type of credible perimeter defense. Wes better be as dead as Jon Snow to not be getting any time.
7:00 – Blake is back. Whew. Ok maybe not everything has gone to s#!t. The Clippers need Blake to give them something, hopefully something dominant, if they're going to win this game or series. Run the offense through Blake. Oh and hai Pablo.
6:04 – Oh no Blake's quad is NOT ok. He's limping and not moving well. I'm torn (pun intended) between keeping him in and going for the win and just sitting him to try and make sure he's ok.
5:49 – Lillard 3. Damnit. Pablo left Lillard for Aminu. Not having Paul out there is killing them. And not having Austin Rivers out there hurts. Oh man, without Paul and Rivers the Clippers are going to have a hard time stopping CJ and Dame. Austin needs to check back in pronto.
5:43 – Blake's on the bench. He may not come back. S#!t. Offensive foul. This game is on the edge of getting away from them and the Blazers have all the momentum. And Chris Paul broke his goddamn hand.
5:15 – BA3 BA3! Just let Redick shoot threes every time down.
4:30 – 7 point game. Jeff Green is carrying the team right now. Who needs 1st round picks anyway!!
4:15 – The Clippers are getting back cut to death this game. Plumlee looks like Draymond Green out here.
3:05 – My god the Aminu revenge game is in full effect. 6 three pointers! 6! This is stupid.
2:40 – Plumlee just threw a bullet pass from the top of the arc all the way through the lane to a cutting Crabbe who was not being defended well by Jamal. What is going on defensively? The Clippers have lost track of every Blazer not named Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum all night and it is finally coming back to bite them.
2:08 – This Clipper defense has melted down and gone to shambles late in this 4th quarter. They just look so devoid of energy and effort.
1:40 – Wesley Johnson is alive you guys, just in case anyone was wondering.
1:10 – Aminu has 30 points. Chris Paul broke his hand. Blake Griffin isn't playing and is sitting on the bench grimacing, holding his left quad. This game is over. This series might be over.
0:00 – Clippers lose.
I don't know if I have any words after watching this game. The Clippers have been through a lot sucky moments these past few years of relevance and contention. Blake Griffin sprained his ankle badly against Memphis and they lost. The Donald Sterling fiasco was followed by the infamous choke job against OKC where Chris Paul melted down in the final minute, along with some dubious officiating. Then last year the total and complete failure against Houston.
This game, Game 4, was different. Instead of the Clippers beating themselves, they have been physically beaten by bad luck and circumstances. Chris Paul goes through that sequence 100,000 times and probably only breaks his right hand once. Add that to Blake's continued, and even worsened, quad injury, plus J.J. Redick's bruised heel which has completely thrown off his shot, and the Clippers are just broken. Injuries are a part of basketball, I get that. But this just hurts in a different way, maybe the worst way yet for Clipper fans.
This afternoon there was just a glimmer of opportunity as the news came out that Steph Curry would be out around 2 weeks. Like most Clipper fans I allowed myself to think of the possibilities, that maybe the universe was turning just right to allow the Clippers the chance to get out of the second round finally and make it to the Western Conference Finals, or even the NBA Finals. Maybe it's karma for seeing opportunity in the sprained knee of the NBA's basketball Jesus, that the basketball gods would strike down our Point Guard in retribution.
Everyone is hurt, and I'm not sure how they can win two more games, though it is possible. Right now it just feels like finality, like there's a black cloud hanging over every Clipper fan reminding us how it is destined to always end.
Doc mentioned if the Clippers didn't have success this year it may be time to break up the core. That promise might ring true. If Blake or Chris is traded this offseason, this is will have been the last game we ever get to see Griffin and Paul play together. Let that sink in for a minute.
Unless Kevin Durant walks through the door this summer, the Clippers might blow up the core in order for a horizontal move that will likely make them worse in the future, and all the fans will have left are the missed chances and ghosts of what could've been. I really hope the Clippers run it back and keep this team together, because I think everyone healthy with the growth of Redick and DJ would make for an extremely dangerous Core 4. And love this team. But, this game may be turn out to be the beginning of the end, and I'm not ready for that yet.
We've had a terrible Game 5, horrendous Game 6, and now the worst -- Game 4: The Breaking Point.