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OKC Thunder notebook: Clippers head toward foreign territory

The franchise is close to making just its fifth postseason appearance since 1977 — when it was known as the Buffalo Braves.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, Published: April 10, 2012

The Los Angeles Clippers are on the cusp of clinching their first playoff berth since 2006, their third bid since 1998 and only their fifth appearance since they were the Buffalo Braves in 1977.

L.A. players aren't doing cartwheels just yet and likely won't do them when the clinching moment arrives.

With the addition of All-Star point guard Chris Paul plus Caron Butler, Nick Young and Kenyon Martin, these Clippers are simply too talented to miss the postseason – even with a season-ending Achilles injury to Chauncey Billups.

Not a single player remains with the Clippers from their last playoff appearance.

Center DeAndre Jordan, who is 23 years old and in just his fourth NBA season, has the most career games for a current player with 260. He is followed by Bobby Simmons with 153 and former Oklahoma standout Blake Griffin, who is in his second season and has 139 career games.

In other words, the current roster has had little to do with the franchise's past failures, which explains why qualifying for this year's playoffs isn't the dominant topic of conversation.

“From our standpoint, it was our expectation to make the playoffs. We feel like we should be there,” Griffin said after Tuesday's practice in preparation for Wednesday's 7 p.m. game against the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. “We also have a tough road ahead of us, but we're capable. No matter where we are, it was a step in the right direction. No matter what seed, no matter who you play, it was a step in the direction and this is our first year really as a full team together.

“No matter what anybody says, it wasn't going to happen overnight. We all said this from Day One. We didn't come in with the same attitude of ‘championship or bust,' it's a process and right now we're laying the foundation.”


Though Paul began his NBA career in Oklahoma City with the relocated New Orleans Hornets from 2005-07 after Hurricane Katrina, Griffin said he did not meet Paul until the 2007 Jordan Brand All-American Classic at Madison Square Garden during Griffin's senior year at Oklahoma Christian School.

“Obviously, he's a great guy and watching him play his first two years here (with the Hornets) was a lot of fun," Griffin said. “I obviously had a lot of respect for him before I got to play with him.”

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