Manchester City full-back Benjamin Mendy could miss the start of the Premier League season.The France international arrived from Monaco this week for €70 million on a five-year deal.But his new boss Pep Guardiola says he’s got fitness problems. Photo © – pixabay
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LOS ANGELES >> Clippers coach Doc Rivers had a simple plan for Chris Paul on the point guard’s return Sunday from a shoulder separation.“I’m just going to start him and play him and let his lungs tell me when he needs to come out,” Rivers said.Paul’s return might have been a breath of fresh air for the Clippers, but that’s about as hard as they had to breathe with the Philadelphia 76ers in town.The Sixers, one game after falling at home to the Lakers and their limited ensemble, traveled coast to coast and absorbed another embarrassment as the Clippers scored a 123-78 win in a game they led by as many as 56 points. “It was tough,” Griffin said with a wry smile, “but we managed.”Griffin had 26 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in 25 minutes and Jamal Crawford, who hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter, added 21 points.But all eyes were on Paul, who had seven points, eight assists and four steals in 23 minutes, assisted on the first two Clippers baskets and made his first two shots.Paul also had to deal with a collision under the basket but emerged unscathed.“It spooked me a little bit, especially because it was running into (teammate DeAndre Jordan),” Paul said. “It was my own fault, too, because I waited too long to make a decision. But once I got through that one, I was OK.”Griffin had his own injury scare in the second quarter, when Philadelphia’s Tony Wroten drove to his left and slipped. His leg collided with the left shin of Griffin, who said he rolled his ankle but had no issues with it.“I just think that they were excited to get Chris back in the lineup,” Rivers said. “You can see that in the way the guys were flying down the floor.”The Clippers limited the Sixers to 27 percent shooting and set a franchise record for margin of victory. The 45-point margin eclipsed the 39-point win over Chicago in December.During his time on the Clippers bench while he recovered, Paul said he was more focused on the team’s defense.“From looking at the game it looks like it was our offense, but it was moreso our defense,” Paul said. “And that was one thing I paid attention since I’ve been out, how good our defense has looked.”The Clippers had a 13-0 lead before the 76ers (15-37) scored and, less than four minutes later, it was 30-5. The first quarter ended with Willie Green making a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Clippers a 31-point lead.Late in the third quarter, the Clippers kicked their lead to 43 points and took a 69-30 halftime lead. Philadelphia made only 8 of 52 shots in the first half (15.4 percent).By the time the teams reached the midway point of the third quarter, the Clippers held an 89-33 advantage.The Clippers now have two off days to, in theory, get some real practice time with Paul and get Redick healthy, which means Collison and Crawford will be doing their work off the bench the way Rivers envisioned before the season started.“That turns into a really nice second unit,” Rivers said. “Unfortunately we haven’t had that unit or the first unit much this year. But it’s getting closer.”Box score | Inside the Clippers blog It was over from the beginning, Paul’s return or not. The Clippers held a 46-15 lead after the first quarter, then turned on the highlight reel that included consecutive dunks by Griffin, one off a backboard pass from Paul and the other also from Paul after Griffin went behind his back to pass to Paul in transition.“It felt great to play,” Paul said. “It’s one of those things where you never know what it’s going to be like until you actually get out there and play. It felt good to get out there and compete.“We’ve been playing extremely well and I didn’t want to break that rhythm.”The Clippers, who won 12 of the 18 games Paul missed, have one game left before the All-Star break and they need only to get J.J. Redick back from his hip injury and they will be primed for the stretch run of the season’s final 28 games.And no, few were fretting about how Paul would work his way back into the lineup.