T.J. SIMERS

Clippers fit the L.A. pattern

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"I didn't want [Grant] to go out this way if this is his last game," said Paul. "I've learned so much from him."

If Paul signs, the Clippers will climb above the salary cap, but will still have some wiggle room to sign players like Matt Barnes before hitting the luxury tax threshold.

As for Coach Vinny Del Negro, he said, "Absolutely," he would like to return, but team President Andy Roeser said not so fast.

He said the team will "assess where we are going," but he also said he doesn't believe the decision on who coaches the Clippers should be left to Paul.

The feeling all along has been the Clippers were waiting on Paul to decide who will lead the team, but if that's not the case, then why the hesitation on Del Negro?

Whatever, a lackluster loss in Game 5 highlighted by Griffin's ankle injury, doomed the Clippers.

Their toughness and heart questioned, they played the first half in Game 6 like you would expect them to compete in a playoff game. Had they played like that before Game 6, at the very least they would have been guaranteed a Game 7 at home.

But crazy how the Clippers wilted in front of their own fans. In a city like Memphis filled with disturbed fans making threats, if email and Twitter are such a measure, it should have been a little disconcerting to see the fans waving "We Don't Bluff" towels.

But the Clippers were still in this one late in the fourth quarter, down by six with the ball until Billups kicked it away.

In the end, Zach Randolph had his way with his former team, even going so far as to discount Griffin's sore ankle.

"You forget about my ankle," said Randolph, who injured his in Game 2. "It's the playoffs. It's a big-boy game."

The Clippers got the message, but far too late and so now everyone can turn their attention to the Dodgers and Angels.

THE THING I hate the most about the story that has Kobe Bryant taking legal action to stop his mother from selling his high school memorabilia is its timing.

Had they both just waited a week, it could have been one of the all-time Happy Mother's Day yarns.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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