Thursday, February 16, 2012
Clippers' February schedule a 'beast'
By Pedro Moura
They played six road games in nine days and won four of them, passing over 19 states in the process, then came home and rested for a day.
Then, the Los Angeles Clippers played another game -- Wednesday's 102-84 win over the Washington Wizards -- and now they play another in less than 24 hours, Thursday night in Portland.
Such is life in the 2011-2012 NBA season, with an abbreviated schedule limiting road off-days and increasing back-to-backs.
And the Clippers are in the thick of it right now, with five games, including Wednesday's, in the week left before the All-Star break.
"It is a beast," guard Chris Paul said Wednesday. "It really is. But if you love playing basketball, then you deal with it.
"And that's how we all are. We're all basketball junkies."
Said guard Mo Williams: "It is what it is. This year's crazy."
The Clippers (and Lakers, for that matter) annually go on the road in February in what is known as the L.A. teams' Grammy's trip. But they're not always as hectic as this year's was. And there's usually a little downtime upon returning to Los Angeles.
Not so much this year. Although there were some positives to take away from the week-plus spent in Washington, D.C., Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas -- namely that the team got to develop a new sort of chemistry.
Previously, the Clippers practiced more than any other team early on in the season because of a light slate of games, but there hadn't been a single instance where they traveled from one road game to another.
That changed, obviously.
"We had time to be around each other for weeks at a time," Williams said. "That always brings you closer.
"That's what road trips do."
On the topic of tough February schedules, both forward Blake Griffin and Paul pointed out that statistics have shown so far this season that teams playing the third game of back-to-back-to-backs have experienced much more success than expected.
That matters Thursday, when the Clippers play the Trail Blazers on the road. Portland played the Wizards on Tuesday night and lost, then beat Golden State on the road Wednesday night and play the Clippers Thursday.