2013-2014 SEASON RECAP, MILESTONES, AND ACHIEVEMENTS
PATTEN PENDING: DON’T LET EMOTIONAL END TAKE AWAY FROM REMARKABLE SEASON
The scene in the Clippers’ locker room in the minutes following their season-ending loss in Game 6 against the Thunder will remain forever private.
Doc Rivers addressed the team. He used words like “sad” and “tough” to describe the release of emotions that took place. But he did not elaborate further.
“A lot of stuff went wrong for us throughout this, and we just kept going,” River said. “So, that's the lesson for us. You have to embrace how hard it is. You have to actually enjoy how hard it is. And whoever wins it is going to say that.
“I thought that was growth for us at least. I think they understood. I don't know if we got that until the playoffs started. That's why when I told the guys before, “You grow during the playoffs. Don't think you don't grow and come together.’”
The Clippers did come together. It was why Chris Paul, who according to Rivers took the 104-98 loss harder than anyone, spoke as though the life had been sucked from his chest. It’s why Blake Griffin answered questions in one or two words at a time, his right hand balled into a loose fist covering his mouth at times.
Rivers was right about the scene, and its sadness. J.J. Redick fought back tears. Rivers became visibly choked up. Paul called it a rarity to find a group of teammates like the ones he had this year.
After Griffin and Paul spoke at their usual news conference, only Danny Granger, Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison remained. Lockers were already empty. The season already forgotten, or at least shifted into past-tense.
But as painful as reflecting on the season might be at this time. It’s impossible, despite controversy marring the Playoffs, to not look at it as remarkable.
In no particular order, here are some of my favorite achievements, milestones and moments from 2013-14:
Doc Rivers Returns to Boston
Just six days after Rivers won the 600th game of his career in a Dec. 5 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, he made a triumphant return to Boston. It was an unforgettable scene with a moving tribute video, an NBA Finals-esqe media gathering, a wild standing ovation for Rivers when walked out of the visiting tunnel and a comeback victory for the Clippers.
Jamal Crawford Sixth Man of the Year, Again
Crawford won his second Sixth Man of the Year Award and first as a member of the Clippers. Crawford became the first player in NBA history win the award on separate teams and at 34 is the oldest player ever to win it. He averaged 18.6 points per game in 69 games. He is the first Clippers player ever to win the Sixth Man trophy.
Blake Griffin February Player of the Month
Griffin won the first player of the month award of his career after averaging 30.0 points and 10.7 rebounds in February. And what a month it was. He had eight points-rebounds double-doubles in the month, led the Clippers to a 7-4 record, including victories over Houston, Oklahoma City and Portland, and permanently vaulted himself into the MVP conversation.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin third straight All-Star appearance together
Griffin and Chris Paul made the Western Conference All-Star team for the third year in a row as teammates. Griffin scored 38 points in the 2014 All-Star Game, coming within four points of Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time record.
Franchise record 57 wins
A year after setting the franchise record with 56 wins, the 2013-14 Clippers topped it going 57-25. They had the third best record in the NBA, earned the No. 3 seed in the West (the highest in franchise history) and hosted a Game 7 in the Playoffs for the first time. Of all of that, though, the Game 7 victory over Golden State is perhaps the highlight of the season. The environment in Staples Center as well as the game on the floor, which several analysts referred to as one of the best postseason games they’ve seen, made it an instant classic.
Chris Paul’s Streak
Chris Paul notched an NBA record 13 consecutive points-assists double-doubles to start the 2013-14 season. The streak, which started opening night (Oct. 29), ended on Nov. 23 against the Sacramento Kings when Paul had 22 points and nine assists in a one-point victory.
Blake Griffin third in MVP balloting
Griffin averaged 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in the regular season, including notching 43 double-doubles. He finished in third place in the 2014 Most Valuable Player balloting behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
DeAndre Jordan’s Big Year
DeAndre Jordan was one of three players in the last 40-plus years to lead league in rebounding and field goal percentage, joining Dwight Howard and Wilt Chamberlain. He also finished third in Defensive Player of the Year balloting behind Joakim Noah and Roy Hibbert and was fifth in Most Improved Player voting.
They were down by 17 with less than five minutes to go and Paul was on the sideline in a suit against Dallas on Jan. 15. It didn’t matter. The comeback, which included a clutch 3-pointer by Redick and a dominant defensive effort down the stretch, was great. But there were two others that may have been better.
Oklahoma City, Game 4: CLICK HERE
Minnesota on Dec. 22: CLICK HERE