Portland coach Terry Stotts praises injured Clippers


first_imgCoach Terry Stotts’ Portland Trail Blazers had just eliminated the Clippers with a 106-103 victory in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series Friday at Moda Center. Portland won 4-2.The first question him came from a reporter who wanted to know what Stotts thought about the Clippers’ heart. After all, not only were the Clippers without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin – their two best players – Austin Rivers took an elbow to his left eye in the first quarter. Rivers took 11 stitches, came back and finished with 21 points, six rebounds and eight assists.Indeed, Stotts was impressed.“Well, I’m glad you brought that up,” Stotts said. “I want to congratulate the Clippers and Doc (Rivers). Obviously, the injuries that they had was a setback, but they really competed hard.” Stotts said he was disappointed that Paul and Griffin didn’t get to finish the series, both of them going down in Game 4.“Obviously, they had championship aspirations and they weren’t playing at full strength, so I really admire what they were able to do,” he said. “We knew they were going to play hard, we knew they were gong to compete and they did, so I’m thrilled with the win. But my hat’s off to them.”Doc Rivers, who just finished his third season as head coach of the Clippers, won a title with the Boston Celtics in 2008. But he said he has never felt better about a team than he does this one.“No, I told them (that); I’ve been around a long time,” he said. “What I loved about this group is they didn’t care. They never looked for an excuse, they never … you know, guys didn’t play. Blake went out, CP (Paul) went out. I mean, they never doubted it. They believed they could do it.“Obviously, they didn’t. But, man, that team had more heart than any team I’ve ever seen. It was amazing to coach them.” DeAndre Jordan ties Tim DuncanAmid the injuries that took Paul and Griffin out of the playoffs, was the rebounding prowess of Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.Jordan on Friday entered Game 6 at Moda Center in Portland with a chance to become the first player since 2008 to grab at least 15 rebounds in five consecutive playoff games. San Antonio’s Tim Duncan did it when he pulled down 18, 16, 21, 17 and 15 in the Spurs’ 4-1 Western Conference finals series loss to the Lakers in ‘08.Jordan had 12 rebounds in Game 1 of this series. He then had 18, 16, 15 and 17. Coach Doc Rivers has been impressed.“He’s been great,” Rivers said before Game 6. “I mean, D.J.’s been great all year, not just this series, so it’s nothing that’s that surprising to me.”Jordan was the league’s leading rebounder in the playoffs with a 15.6 average ahead of Game 6. He pulled down 20 more on Friday to tie Duncan.Jordan was one of three Clippers who were invited to vie for a roster spot on the USA National team that will compete in this summer’s Rio Games. Paul pulled out long before he fractured his right hand in Game 4 on Monday at Moda Center. And now that Griffin’s partially torn left quad tendon has again taken him out of action, chances are Jordan will be the only Clippers player going for a spot on the USA roster.“That would be a great experience for him,” Rivers said. “I think Chris pulled out already and now Blake’s injury. I think Blake wouldn’t play because of it, but I actually think he could. But I don’t think he will. But D.J., it would be a great experience for him.” Praise for Portland When the Clippers looked good in taking a 2-0 lead over Portland with victories in Games 1 and 2 at Staples Center, the word “sweep” became the first-round series buzz word. Considering the Clippers were 24 games over .500 (53-29) during the regular while Portland was just six (44-38), it was understandable.When the series shifted to Portland, the Trail Blazers defeated the Clippers in Game 3 with Griffin and Paul still playing, and they were leading the Clippers in Game 4 ahead of Paul’s injury in the third quarter and Griffin’s in the fourth on their way to tying the series 2-2.Rivers gives the Trail Blazers a tip-of-the-cap for playing better than many might have thought they would.“I think they have played wonderfully,” said Rivers, whose team lost Game 5 on Wednesday at Staples Center with Paul and Griffin on the shelf to fall behind 3-2. “I think they have played better defense than they did in the regular season, for sure. Offensively, they really haven’t played great, but they haven’t had to. We haven’t played great offense, but a lot of that is because of their defense, so you have to give them credit.”Portland allowed 104.3 points during the season, 20th in the NBA. Stotts intimated it’s been about focus.“I think everybody’s really locked in,” he said before Game 6. “We’re more consistent. We haven’t had a lot of areas where for two, three, four minutes we had a lot of letdowns.” Griffin had injectionWhile Paul was on the bench helping Rivers coach the team in Game 5 at Staples Center, Griffin was in another part of the arena taking in the game. He was spotted afterward on crutches slowly making his way through the hallway near the Clippers’ locker room.It turns out Griffin had a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection, a popular procedure often used by NBA players to speed up recovery. The injection is made into the injury.Rivers, a former player, joked about it postgame.“Yeah, whatever that stuff is, yeah,” he said. “We took Advil. We didn’t have the stuff they have now.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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