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Saturday, March 29, 2014
Clippers add drama to a winning résumé

By Arash Markazi

HOUSTON -- As Los Angeles Clippers forward Jared Dudley sat in the visiting locker room of the Toyota Center on Saturday night, he had a question for me.

Why don’t the Clippers get more media coverage in L.A?

It was a fair question, and one I often get from friends and family visiting me from out of town when they turn on local TV and radio stations.

The Clippers have had one of the five best records in the league this season, while the Los Angeles Lakers have had one of the five worst records in the league. But the unofficial breakdown on coverage on the local airwaves is still probably about 95 percent to 5 percent, in favor of the Lakers.

Chris Paul
The Clippers found some serious sizzle -- on and off the court -- Saturday in Houston.
Putting aside the history of both teams for a moment, I told Dudley why I thought the Lakers were still the local media darlings, even if most of the current active roster is unrecognizable.

“There’s more drama with the Lakers,” I told him. “It’s a real-life reality show.”

The only thing Hollywood loves more than a winner is a good drama. And even when the Lakers aren’t winning, they’re making headlines with Jeanie and Jim Buss trying to run the team together, Phil Jackson bolting for New York, Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman getting into a war of words with Mike D’Antoni, Kobe Bryant calling out management, Steve Nash saying he’s still playing for the money, and even Nick Young’s house getting burglarized.

Meanwhile, down the street in Lob City, there’s usually nothing but peace, quiet and highlight-reel plays, which is great in most municipalities. But that’s not enough in the entertainment capital of the world.

Enter stage left, Glen “Big Baby” Davis.

The serenity that the Clippers once enjoyed was shaken Saturday night when Davis, who was signed by the Clippers last month, was sent off the court by Doc Rivers and escorted back to the locker room by team security.

When Davis was taken out of the game early in the second quarter, he exchanged words with Rivers, who yelled at Davis to sit his, well, behind down. Clippers assistant coach Alvin Gentry then attempted to talk to Davis, but Rivers apparently had seen and heard enough at that point and sent him off the bench.

It was something Rivers had never done and something none of the players in the locker room had ever seen before. After the Clippers were forced to play without Blake Griffin, who was sidelined for the rest of the game after suffering back spasms in the first quarter, Griffin's replacement, Davis, gets ejected from the game by his coach.

“I've talked about emotional hijacks," Rivers said. "If you have one, I'll send you back. We've talked about that as a group. I didn't make a big deal, didn't address it halftime, and it's not a big deal. We needed him tonight, but he wasn't here emotionally. So you tell him to go and sit.”

Emotional hijacks aren’t ideal for a team, but they’re also not the worst thing in the world for a team in need of a shakeup.

After Davis was sent back to the locker room with the Clippers down 15 points, they went on a 34-18 run, took the lead at halftime, went up 13 in fourth quarter and won 118-107.

“I’ve never been on a team like this before,” said Chris Paul, who had 30 points and 12 assists. “I think a lot of teams, when a guy goes down, they start looking for excuses. And I’ve been on teams like that.

“Our team is like, 'All right, next man stand up,' and they know what to do.”

Not only were the Clippers united on the floor, they worked together after the game and acted as if they were unaware of the Davis incident -- or simply said it would be handled in-house -- before moving on to the next question.

But there’s nothing wrong with a championship-contending team having an emotional and unpredictable “Big Baby” in the locker room. Back in 2008, Davis was driven to tears at the end of the Celtics' bench in Boston when Kevin Garnett yelled at him. That team found a way to get to two Finals in three years and win one. Rivers was at the helm of those teams and knew what he was getting on and off the court when he signed Davis.

Rivers didn’t have an issue with Davis after the game.

“I love Baby,” Rivers said. “I just didn't think emotionally he was ready to play tonight, so we told him to go to the locker room.”

As he prepared to leave the locker room after the game, Dudley listened to reporters taking about the Davis incident and laughed.

“I guess you guys will be talking about us now,” he said.