Chris Paul: Clippers must "figure it out" with DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin set to miss Denver trip
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Clippers will head into the second game of their back-to-back without star big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
The Clippers take on the Denver Nuggets on Thursday just hours after a disappointing 97-96 defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center. Los Angeles’ loss was their second straight and places them just a game and a half above the surging sixth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder for the fifth seed in the West.
After the game, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers confirmed that Griffin and Jordan will miss the trip to the Rocky Mountains to keep them healthy and well-rested for the stretch run. The absences will pose some challenges for the Clippers, but Chris Paul says that the team must remain resolute.
“It’s a challenge any time [you lose players],” Paul, who tallied six points with seven assists on Wednesday night, said. [Denver] is one of the toughest back-to-backs in the league, especially coming from here. But once they throw the ball up, it’s about what you do in between the lines and you figure it out.”
Against the Bucks, Griffin and Jordan were catalysts as the Clippers came agonizingly close to stealing a victory against a cagey Milwaukee team.
Jordan led the way with his 30th double-double of the season scoring a team-high 22 points and adding 17 rebounds. The Clippers’ big man proved vital late in the game with 11 points in the final quarter as he kick-started a rally that fell just short.
Griffin, meanwhile, notched 18 points with seven rebounds to pair with four assists in the defeat to the Bucks. After Wednesday’s loss, Griffin admitted that he was disappointed to be sitting out for the Denver trip, but understood Rivers’ decision to leave the duo in Los Angeles.
“I don’t like sitting out, no matter what. I know [DeAndre Jordan] doesn’t either,” Griffin told reporters. “But, at the end of the day, you do what’s best for the team or what the team thinks is best for the team. It’s kind of out of our hands a little bit."
Although neither player is pleased with resting for a game as important as Thursday, Jordan admits that the Clippers’ big men will need to recharge before Saturday when Los Angeles hosts LeBron James and the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I think it can help us recovery wise. I know for myself, and I think I can speak for Blake [Griffin] too, we want to be out there every game that we are healthy,” Jordan, who will miss his first game of the season on Thursday, said. “We want to be out there helping our teammates and getting better as a unit.
“Like Blake said, when the team thinks this is something that is best for the team we are going to back it 120% and support the team tomorrow by watching and resting to be ready for our next game.”