It’s a decent plot but not a great one, and as we closed the final page Thursday once again, we are left wanting more.For the third straight year, the Clippers can’t get out of the second round of the playoffs.With a chance to potentially take a big bite out of Los Angeles while the Lakers rebuild, they run head-first into a bout with writer’s block.And just when the story was getting ready to lift off.Last year it was the Memphis Grizzlies in round one. We’ve read this Clippers script before, right?Like, say, last year. And the year before that.Record-breaking regular season creates all sorts of playoff hype, only to abruptly end in the first or second round. The year before the San Antonio Spurs in the second round.On Thursday it was the Oklahoma City Thunder ending the Clippers’ season with a 104-98 that closes out an excruciating Western Conference semifinals in which the Clippers have mostly themselves to blame.They led by as many as 16 points, but their inability to close out quarters cost them time and again.For the second straight game they couldn’t to hold on to a double-digit lead, a failure that will stick with them deep into another long summer. “That’s going to hurt for awhile,” said Chris Paul, fighting back tears.Said Blake Griffin: “It wasn’t that we didn’t come to play, it’s that we didn’t put 48 minutes together.”For the second straight game.And really, the third straight year.It’s an ongoing theme.Once again, it was the opponent making the critical plays down the stretch.Not the Clippers.“They stepped up and won two very winnable games for us,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.And that’s mostly on Paul and Griffin, who were unable to respond when Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook made their moves.If the Thunder proved one thing in this series, it’s that their two stars are better than the Clippers’ two stars.For now, anyway. But the Clippers better figure out a way to change that, because the Thunder aren’t going anywhere for awhile.“Disappointed,” is how Griffin described his emotions. “I feel like it could have been a different series. A couple of small things.”Said Paul: “It’s tough to realize it’s over again.”But it is.The writing staff changes a bit, producers come and go and this year a new director was brought on to the project.And this year the Clippers even sprinkled in the added element of owner Donald Sterling being caught on tape making racist remarks right smack in the middle of the playoffs, causing a worldwide firestorm in which the Clippers were simultaneously focused on the postseason and drama unfolding with their owner.They admirably kept their composure, but on the court they stumbled into the same old problems. You’re only as strong as your final act.No matter how tightly they grab our attention, they always lose their grip.And a potentially great script deteriorates into just a pretty good one.It’s the difference between an Oscar contender and a weekend rental that leaves you wanting more.They brought us to the brink this series, and were in position to win two games that would have pushed them into the Western Conference finals.But once again, they came up short.This wasn’t about carryover from the Sterling drama or the fatigue of playing so many games over the past two weeks.The Thunder have played just as many games, and they were dealt a crushing punch by blowing a double-digit lead in Game 4.“I don’t think we should use (any of) that as an excuse,” Rivers said.No, this is about the Clippers’ inability to take that next step as a franchise.Paul has never been beyond the second round, and he embarks on another summer of regret knowing he was a primary culprit in the demise.He was good Thursday, but the Clippers needed him to be great.Especially coming off his Game 5 mistakes in which they blew a 13-point lead over the final four minutes.Paul, normally the Clippers’ rock, crumbled in the waning moments with two critical turnovers — the second as time expired and the Clippers working toward a game-ending shot — and a silly foul that put Russell Westbrook on the line for three free throws to give the Thunder the lead.Some guys are better equipped to move on from tough nights than others. Paul is as fierce a competitor there is and a noted perfectionist.He was still seething a day later when the Clippers gathered for practice.But he couldn’t translate anger into production, at least not the kind needed to hold off a proud Thunder team in close-out mode.“He took it hard,” Rivers said.Griffin wasn’t much better.His 22 points and eight rebounds look good, except when you compare them to the 39 points and 16 rebounds Durant erupted for on a night he struggled early with his shot.Meanwhile, Griffin was on the bench over the final two minutes after picking up his sixth foul.Sensing the Clippers’ uncertainty, Durant went for the kill.The Clippers had no counterpunch.And it cost them a series they could have easily won.“I believed we were good enough to win this year, Oklahoma City told us we’re not,” Rivers said,It’s the same old script all over again. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error
Mary MurphyMurphy, Mary F. (Kincaid) (Stewart), born June 6, 1925, died June 30, 2014.Preceded in death by parents, brother Bill, husbands John Stewart and Al Murphy, children Becci and David, granddaughter Erika Bennett.Survived by daughters Marilyn (Ron) Deckert and JoAnn â€œJodieâ€ Bennett, 8 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, several nieces, nephews and many friends. Mary loyally served her God Jehovah for many decades. We look forward to the fulfillment of her hope of being reunited with her lovedÂ ones on a paradise earth. Memorial service Saturday August 2, 2014, 4 p.m., Kingdom Hall of Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses, 6007 E 29th St N, Wichita.Memories or condolences: www.dayfuneralhome.info. Donations to Watchtower or Humane Society.