Clippers notebook: No room for complacency

OKLAHOMA CITY — Blake Griffin was right about one thing. They don’t give out trophies for finishing third in MVP voting.

But it was still worth noting that the Clippers forward, after producing his best season yet, had finished behind Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Miami’s LeBron James for the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

Worth noting still: Point guard Chris Paul, who missed 20 games because of injuries, was seventh.

"I’m honored and humbled by that," Griffin said Tuesday, "but it was kind of a two-man race and then toward the end it was a no-brainer. It’s definitely cool to be in that.

"Third place, you don’t really get a trophy or anything like that. It’s nice to be considered, but at the same time, I have a lot of areas for improvement."

Griffin averaged a career-high 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists and was sixth in the NBA in field-goal average (52.8 percent).

Clippers forward Blake Griffin finishes third in MVP voting

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He scored 23 points in the Clippers’ 122-105 Game 1 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series, but it was Paul was took center stage. He made 12 of 14 shots, including 8 of 9 threes, for 32 points.

Paul is a pass-first, shoot-second kind of guard, so he doesn’t expect to produce another game like he did Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"The next game, I might have 12 points, 10 points," he said. "I’m one of those people that, whatever it takes to win, I don’t care. I don’t care. I’m never going to lead the league in scoring or anything like that."

This season, the Clippers had several players finish at or near the top of voting for post-season awards in addition to Griffin and Paul. Jamal Crawford will be named Sixth Man of the Year, and DeAndre Jordan was third in voting for Defensive Player of the Year.

"It shows we have a lot of depth," Paul said. "Obviously, me, Blake and D.J. are the leaders of our team. All that’s good and well, but everything is to win championships. All the individual accolades, they come with the success of the team."

One win, zero complacency

One-man show: Paul’s brilliance powers Clippers past Thunder in Game 1

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The Clippers snatched away the Thunder’s home-court advantage by winning Game 1, but that won’t allow them to feel comfortable knowing they’€™ll leave here with at least a split of the first two games.

Last season, they won the first two games at home against the Memphis Grizzlies before being swept out of the playoffs when they lost four in a row.

So any fear of complacency shouldn’t be a problem.

"I guess there is that fear," Griffin said, "but if we get comfortable and think we’ve done anything at this point, we don’t deserve to be here. To have a 1-0 lead in a series we know is nothing. We had a 2-0 lead against Memphis and lost four straight."

Asked about the risk of being comfortable with a one-game lead, Rivers said, "There’s a risk, but I’ll take the risk. That’s a good problem to have, but I don’t think that’s who we’ll be — at least I hope not."

Perils of coaching

Doc Rivers: ‘I think we have good leadership right now’

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When Rivers met with the media Tuesday afternoon, he hadn’€™t yet heard that the Golden State Warriors had fired Mark Jackson after three seasons and two consecutive years in the playoffs.

Rivers was clearly surprised after emerging from a meeting with coach and players at the Cox Convention Center across from Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"Man, I’m going to go back in this room," he said after hearing the news.

"That means things are crazy," he added. "George Karl was the coach of the year last year (in Denver) and got fired. Mark Jackson gets a team to multiple playoffs for the first time in a thousand years and gets fired. It’s our job. We have a tough job, and I think everyone knows it now more than ever."