Bernucca: Clippers Captain is Back, But the Ship Ran Just Fine Without CP3

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ChrisPaulSH1Chris Paul returned to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

We don’t want to be party-poopers, but it probably should be pointed out that the Clippers were better without him.

This does not mean that GM Gary Sacks should start exploring trade possibilities for a top-five player. And it doesn’t mean that coach Doc Rivers should go with the hot hand at point guard at the end of games.

But it does mean that if the Clippers want to win a championship this season – which is entirely within the realm of possibility – Paul has to reacclimate himself with his teammates more than they do to him.

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Bernucca: Memo to Mitch Kupchak: Stop Haggling and Start Tanking

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Mitch Kupchak shouldn’t be playing hardball. kupchak

In his desire to trade Pau Gasol, the GM of the Los Angeles Lakers should not have insisted on receiving Dion Waiters or a first-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nobody has overpaid for a rental since Ernie Grunfeld sent Ray Allen to Seattle for Gary Payton — and that was a long time ago.

Kupchak should have lowered his demands to match the team’s expectations. The Lakers are done for this season and should be singularly committed to one agenda: Making sure this rare down period for one of the NBA’s most storied franchises doesn’t last more than one season.

Kupchak should be tanking.

Some of the telltale signs already are in place. The Lakers have a bloated payroll of aging, overpaid players, almost all of them on expiring contracts. Injuries to their stars have hampered their ability to compete on their customary high level. They already are fading fast in the Western Conference playoff race.

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Eric Bledsoe Has Sprained Knee, Out At Least a Week

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BledsoePhoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe has a sprained right knee and will miss at least a week.

The Suns made the announcement Saturday. If Bledsoe sits out just one week, he will miss games Saturday vs. Milwaukee and the first three games of a five-game road trip – Tuesday at Chicago, Wednesday at Minnesota and Friday at Memphis.

Bledsoe was a late scratch from Thursday’s home loss to Memphis with the injury, which left at least one NBA gambler unhappy.

The Suns are 3-4 this season without Bledsoe, who missed six games in November with a bruised shin. While he was out, Gerald Green started alongside Goran Dragic.

Phoenix has been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season. Expected to endure a rebuilding phase with a roster full of young players and rookie coach Jeff Hornacek, the Suns are 19-12, good for seventh in the loaded Western Conference.

Bledsoe is a big reason why. Acquired in an offseason trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, Bledsoe is averaging career highs of 18.0 points, 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds and is among the league’s most improved players.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough opted not to give Bledsoe a contract extension before the Oct. 31 deadline, which may end up being a costly decision.

NBA Admits Griffin Shouldn’t Have Been Ejected

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BlakeGriffinSH1The NBA admitted Thursday that Blake Griffin should not have been ejected from Wednesday’s LA Clippers-Golden State game.

“After a league review of the Clippers-Warriors game, we have come to the conclusion that Blake Griffin should not have been ejected from the game,” NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said in a statement.

“A common foul should have been called on Griffin for initially attempting to dislodge the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut and a technical foul should have been assessed to Bogut for grabbing Griffin by the shirt and wrestling with him.”

Griffin’s ejection came with 10:43 remaining in an eventual 105-103 loss. He had 20 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.

VIDEO: Kobe’s comeback commercial from Nike

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Kobe Bryant returned to the court tonight, eight months after tearing his Achilles tendon. So of course, there had to be an accompanying commercial from Nike.

Yes, that’s Ice Cube on the voice over.