‘Sloppy’ hockey is the name of the game early in NHL season

first_imgNo exhibition games and for some teams no action at all for 10 months has made for a sloppy start to the NHL season. It’s plenty entertaining with all the odd-man rushes and goals, even if the hockey resembles junior or college games more than the pros. Teams have shuffled their lineups more early because of injuries and protocols. That has led to less continuity and more mistakes and penalties all over the ice. But goaltenders have also stepped up and shaken off the rust quicker to keep from every game being an offensive explosion.last_img

Miller: Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and one traditionally angry hallway

first_img NBA investigating Rockets’ postgame invasion of the Clippers’ locker room Evidently, no blows were thrown, nothing more than some dirty words and glances were exchanged and nobody’s head ended up locked.Related Articles Nobody said anything nearly that funny or insightful Monday, though the Clippers weren’t shy about reminding everyone that Chris Paul was the one who left them and not the other way around.Coach Doc Rivers said it before the game and again after, specifically noting of his team’s preparation for the Rockets, “He’s no longer a Clipper, and we don’t talk about him.”Paul’s return after the offseason trade he helped orchestrate was the emotional backdrop on a night that needed extra emotion like it needed a third angry team.The Clippers he chose to abandon played with what has become their signature style – effectively annoying – while the broken relationship between Paul and his former team was as easy to read as Blake Griffin’s lips.There Griffin was, in the closing minutes, caught by cameras saying a very nasty thing toward Houston coach Mike D’Antoni.In case anyone missed it the first time, the helpful Clippers replayed the images on the arena’s enormous screens.“You didn’t see?” Griffin said afterward, when asked what he uttered in D’Antoni’s direction. “I saw it on the scoreboard. … After he said what he said, I said the same thing back.”So it was vintage he said, he said but with both he’s saying the same thing. In other words, it wasn’t he said, he said as much as it was we said.D’Antoni was emotional because he felt Griffin had intentionally made contact with him along the sidelines, the idea of a 6-foot-10, 250-pound professional athlete invading your personal space understandably upsetting.Griffin was emotional because, well, because that’s how he plays. Along with D’Antoni, he had late-game brushes with Houston’s Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza.And that was before Griffin yanked off his jersey and gave it to a fan en route to leaving the court following his ejection, a perfectly irrational response that had owner Steve Ballmer hooting with delight.Of course, Ballmer has been spotted hooting with delight at things far less volcanic, this being one court-side billionaire known to behave like an upper-bowl walk-up customer.When he bought the team in 2014, Ballmer promised that his players would be “hardcore,” though he was unable to really explain what that meant.Perhaps he was talking about this: The Clippers produced the most conflict-ridden, angst-fueled sporting event of the day at Staples Center only hours after the building hosted a hockey game.“We’ve figured out a way to do it,” explained Griffin, whose team has won five in a row. “If it’s chippy, it’s chippy. We fought. We had each others’ backs. I think that showed.”Apparently, it showed again following the game, although very few people saw it happening at the time.With Rockets attempting to enter the Clippers’ locker room from both the front door and a back corridor – A double breach! – the home team reportedly braced as one for an altercation before arena security intervened.Now, not to disrespect arena security or anything, but, based on the evidence and the building’s layout, the first Clipper those Rockets coming from behind would have encountered once in the locker room was DeAndre Jordan.Just a guess, but, if Jordan was at his back corner cubicle at the time, his 6-11, 265-pound presence probably was a slight deterrent, as well.If this scenario sounds vaguely familiar to anyone who has ever played any sport ever, there’s a reason why, upon walking into his postgame news conference, Rivers made a joke about being back in high school.“It was classic NBA,” one witness told ESPN. “None of these guys were going to fight.”Still, the intensity of the situation was such that two of the main figures involved – Austin Rivers of the Clippers and James Harden of the Rockets – missed the game because of injuries.DNP, for the record, stands for “Did Not Play,” which is clearly unrelated to “Did Not Participate,” Rivers and Harden healthy enough to come off the bench, as long as coming off the bench only meant poking the other guy in the chest.“I was really proud of them,” Doc Rivers said of the Clippers. “You still have to play hard. That’s our talent. I was worried because emotions rob you of talent, you know, of your energy. We didn’t allow that.”No, they didn’t. The Clippers didn’t allow much Monday, a night that suddenly went to distant places quite unexpected but, mercifully, stopped before anyone traveled overseas. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LOS ANGELES — It wasn’t the first hallway skirmish in Staples Center history.Or the most violent.Or the most humorous.When a collection of Houston Rockets “breached” – ESPN’s awesome description – the entrance of the Clippers’ locker room late Monday night, they were merely carrying on an NBA tradition. Emotions boil over after Clippers defeat Chris Paul, Rockets This was unlike the 2002 incident when Rick Fox took Doug Christie’s bald noggin into his possession, the two tangling in the space between the locker rooms after both had been ejected.In the first quarter. Of a preseason game.Afterward, the punchline was delivered by former Laker Vlade Divac, who was then a member of the Kings.“Rick didn’t just go too far,” Divac said of Fox. “He went overseas and back.”last_img read more