Road suc­cess can help in post­sea­son

Los Angeles Times - - NBA - By Melissa Rohlin melissa.rohlin@la­times.com

Blake Grif­fin said that in or­der to be a great team, play­ers have to be mo­ti­vated by two dis­tinct en­er­gies.

“At home, you try to feed off the pos­i­tive en­ergy, and on the road, you try and feed off of the neg­a­tive en­ergy,” Grif­fin said.

The Clip­pers have ex­celled in the lat­ter this sea­son, set­ting a fran­chise record Sun­day evening for wins on the road, their 25th, a 106-78 victory over the Lak­ers.

They set the tone early this sea­son, go­ing 6-1 on their first long road trip, and re­cently put an ex­cla­ma­tion mark on their away ef­forts when they came back from a 19-point deficit to beat the Trail Blaz­ers on April 1, 126-122.

The Clip­pers’ statis­tics have been nearly iden­ti­cal at home and on the road. They’re shoot­ing 47.2% from the field at home; 47.5% on the road. From be­yond the three-point line, they’re shoot­ing 37.9% both at home and on the road. From the free-throw line, they’re shoot­ing 70.7% at home; 70.9% on the road. They’re av­er­ag­ing 43.4 re­bounds at home; 41.6 on the road. They’re av­er­ag­ing 26.2 as­sists at home; 23.4 on the road.

Grif­fin said the team al­most has started to en­joy vis­it­ing an arena and feel­ing the crowd’s neg­a­tiv­ity.

“We were talk­ing about it on the bus [Satur­day evening], or on the plane, some­where; it’s kind of cool play­ing on the road be­cause you know every­body is against you for the most part, and it’s fun to have that men­tal­ity,” Grif­fin said. “I’m glad we’ve taken on that men­tal­ity.”

The Clip­pers (52-26) are in fifth place in the West­ern Con­fer­ence, 1 1 ⁄ 2 games be­hind the sec­ond-place Hous­ton Rock­ets with four games re­main­ing in the regular sea­son, in­clud­ing one road game on April 14 against the Phoenix Suns.

The team has never ad­vanced be­yond the sec­ond round of the play­offs and is hop­ing its road suc­cess might make a dif­fer­ence this time around.

“Doc even said it last year,” Chris Paul said of Clip­pers Coach Doc Rivers . “He said at some point in the play­offs, if you’re re­ally try­ing to make a run for the cham­pi­onship, you’re go­ing to lose at home, and you’ve got to be able to win on the road.”

Last year in the post­sea­son, the Clip­pers beat the Golden State War­riors in a chippy first-round, seven-game se­ries be­fore los­ing to Ok­la­homa City in the sec­ond round in six games.

“Those are two of the tough­est places to play in the regular sea­son, even more so in the play­offs in terms of crowd noise and at­mos­phere,” J.J. Redick said. “This year that stuff helps go­ing into the play­offs, now hav­ing had that ex­pe­ri­ence.” Craw­ford back?

Ja­mal Craw­ford , who has sat out more than a month be­cause of a deep right calf bruise, is prob­a­ble for Tues­day’s game against the Lak­ers.

The reign­ing sixth man of the year was av­er­ag­ing 16.4 points on 40.1% shoot­ing be­fore the in­jury, which he sus­tained in a game against the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves on March 2.

“We’re go­ing to have a shootaround [Tues­day] and run him around a lit­tle bit, and we’ll see,” Rivers said. “I would say he’s prob­a­ble, but I’m not go­ing to say he def­i­nitely will [play] Tues­day.” Clip­pers’ streak

The Clip­pers have won six in a row over the Lak­ers, their long­est win­ning streak in the his­tory of the ri­valry.

When the teams played Sun­day evening, the Clip­pers led by as many as 43 points be­fore fin­ish­ing with a 28-point victory. The Lak­ers’ 78 points was the least they’ve scored in the ri­valry.

The Clip­pers have won the last six by an av­er­age of 26.6 points, in­clud­ing a 142-94 win on March 6 of last year, when the Clip­pers dealt the Lak­ers their worst loss in fran­chise his­tory.

Winslow Town­son As­so­ci­ated Press

BLAKE GRIF­FIN says play­ers must try to feed off of the neg­a­tive en­ergy in road games.

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