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Tough-minded Clippers show some fight during injury-riddled season

By in Press Enterprise on January 3, 2018

By Elliott Teaford

LOS ANGELES — They could have quit when their starting guards went down and out of the lineup with injuries, but they didn’t. They could have given up during a nine-game losing streak, but they wouldn’t. They could have tanked when their best player was sidelined by a knee injury, but they couldn’t.

It’s not the Clippers’ style in 2017-18.

“We’ve gone through a lot this season with all the injuries,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

The Clippers are battered and bruised, but they’re not beaten.

Not yet, anyway.

In fact, they awoke Tuesday to find themselves only 1½ games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They were 16-19 going into Tuesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center, not what they hoped for, but far better than it could have been.

“I just love coaching this team” Rivers said. “There are so many reasons we could have thrown in the towel. (Sunday), we had four of our top six scorers out. We have it over and over again and somebody else steps up. This team is a resilient team. They’re tough-minded. They’re very close.

“And they grind games out. They just figure it out.”

Injuries have prevented the Clippers from being a top-eight team so far this season, with Patrick Beverley (knee), Danilo Gallinari (glute muscle), Blake Griffin (knee), Austin Rivers (Achilles tendon) and Milos Teodosic (foot) sitting out because of injuries.

Beverley is lost to the team after undergoing season-ending surgery Nov. 22. Gallinari and Rivers are on the mend, but weren’t sound enough to play Tuesday. Griffin and Teodosic have each returned to the starting lineup, but the coaching and medical staffs continue to monitor them.

“As a coach, you’re always thinking you’re turning a corner, but you don’t ever think you’ve turned it,” Doc Rivers said. “What I do […]    

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