Clippers championship mantra still there despite opening loss to Lakers

first_imgPerhaps the Clippers couldn’t concentrate with the Lakers’ championship banners all uncovered and all. Doc Rivers made an effective, bold offseason move to cover up those Lakers championship banners for Clippers home games at Staples Center. To open his reign for his new-look Clippers, Rivers had to walk onto the court at Staples Center, along with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and see those 16 banners staring them straight in their new look.The Lakers surprised with a 116-103 victory over the Clippers, and how strange it still feels that the NBA world in Los Angeles has turned upside down. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Clippers’ first game in the think-like-a-champion season, and it was a home game for the Lakers Tuesday and a little bump in the road for the Clippers.“It’s one game,” Rivers said. “I don’t get too high or too low. I move on pretty quickly.”The cover-up must wait a while longer, and once the likeness of the Clippers stars is all you can see hanging from the rafters, maybe that improved Clippers defense will show up too.Not the one that allowed the Lakers bench to score 76 points or Xavier Henry’s career-high 22 points. Blake Griffin had a team-best 19 points, but he still needs to develop an outside shot and play better defense. DeAndre Jordan had an impressive double double with 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting and 11 rebounds. Chris Paul had 15 points and 11 assists.center_img The Clippers need not be rattled. The Lakers were without the injured Kobe Bryant and so many had deemed them unworthy of the playoffs.The Clippers have a championship mantra now, and it might take a while for them to completely fit into that swagger. They’re undoubtedly a very good team with lofty expectations and that didn’t change Tuesday.“I told our guys before the game, ‘They’ve been hearing for two months about how good we are and how not good they were going to be,’ ” Rivers said. “Even when we had the lead, I thought everything they did was harder than us.”Said Jamal Crawford: “He’s been there before. He has that credibility and he’s seen it all, so I think the next time he says something like that we’ll take heed.” Or maybe it was just the glare of those banners. Clippers reserve center Ryan Hollins wasn’t surprised at Banner Gate and the attention it received. Not in Los Angeles.“That happens every time somebody sneezes,” Hollins said. “They go crazy. We’re used to it. It’s fun.”And today, everyone will look for great meaning from Tuesday’s game, when really it was just one game with no meaning other than maybe the Clippers figured Tuesday would be an easy walk through this championship mantra. This year, the Clippers will undoubtedly own Los Angeles. They might not have the most fans, but they’ve got the best talent and the best coach and the best mindset. In spite of Tuesday.Nothing has changed.Perhaps that’s why the Lakers chose Tuesday to give away yellow T-shirts that read: “Lakers. Fan for Life.”The focus isn’t on this season for the Lakers because they’re not supposed to be any good. The Lakers are judged not just by playoff appearances but by championship appearances.The Clippers want that, too.With lofty expectations comes responsibility, and we’ll see how the Clippers handle that from here. Everyone from Paul to Griffin to Crawford and even new dad Darren Collison — whose wife gave birth to their son, Kinston on Monday — are healthy for the Clippers.A healthy roster and healthy attitude make for much promise for these Clippers. “There’s no shortcuts, and there’s no guarantees,” Rivers said. “That’s the neat part to me. When you want something that’s great, there’s no guarantees. You open your heart up to your team, your team opens up to you and you take the risk of getting your heart broken. I’ve had my heart broken many times and it’s damn worth it. It absolutely is worth it.”There were no broken hearts Tuesday. It was a loss in which the Clippers will learn. The Clippers held the Lakers to 42 percent shooting in the first half but held just a 57-55 lead. Rivers said with a defensive effort like that, the Clippers should’ve had a 20-point lead. Darn banners. “You have to pay your respects to the Lakers,” Hollins said. “They have the championships and history and legacy. Until the Clippers get a couple of champioships under our belts, we’re just doing our best to hold our own.”Rivers isn’t used to the acceptance of mediocrity that enveloped the Clippers for so long. He hasn’t been around Los Angeles for decades of losing, and that’s a good thing.He is instilling winning ways and a concentrated defensive effort, and defense wins championships.Rivers looks like he belongs on the Clippers bench. He fits in just fine with the Clippers and in Los Angeles.The Lakers won’t go quietly, and these championship expectations for the Clippers won’t be easily achieved.That’s what we learned Tuesday. Nothing more. Nothing less.The glare of those banners was bright.Next time the Clippers play at Staples Center, they’ll be out of sight. And maybe a burden will be lifted.last_img

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