Clippers shaking their heads about wild, wild West

first_imgSixth-man Jamal Crawford, who Tuesday returned after missing 17 games with a calf injury, also spoke in head-shaking tones.“That’s how competitive the West is,” he said. “It shows how good the West is, how much parity there is in the NBA. In three days the matchups have changed five times. It’s unbelievable, it really is.”Besides the Clippers (53-26 before Saturday), the other four teams in that aforementioned mix are Memphis (54-25), San Antonio (54-26), Portland (51-28) and the Houston Rockets (53-26).The Clippers have won three of four from Portland, so that matchup – should it remain as such – seems a good thing for the Clippers. But Griffin suggested nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to the post-season.“There are certain teams that you feel you match up well with,” he said. “Sometimes the regular-season success does kind of dictate how you’ll play against them, but at the same time the playoffs are a whole different thing.” Prior to the slate of games Saturday in the NBA commencing – including the Clippers against visiting Memphis – the five teams sitting in the Nos. 2 through 6 positions in the Western Conference standings were separated by no more than three games, four of them by no more than one game.Again, before play Saturday, the Clippers would have been playing the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs. But with so many teams bunched together, and with three games still left for the Clippers as well as three of the other four teams – San Antonio had just two – that can change.“It’s crazy,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said Friday at practice. “I’ve had some close, tight races down the stretch, but never like this. There are so many different scenarios; that’s the crazy part.“It kind of goes back to the old, ‘We can only control what we can control.’ That’s how we play, and that’s how we approach these next three games. That’s really our focus.” Homecourt advantage bigThe Clippers defeated Golden State 126-121 in Game 7 of the first round at Staples Center this past season. Having homecourt advantage was big in that series, and the Clippers would love to have it again in the first round.“It’s very important” Griffin said. “We did win one game there in the playoffs. But those Game 7s. … The crowd was great that game. They got off to that early lead and we walked them down, so having it at home was huge for us. Homecourt is definitely a big thing. In case you get into that situation, it’s huge playing the last game at home.”Crawford’s memory of that win over Golden State is vivid.“I remember when we came on the court, it was electric,” he said. “The crowd was into it, they were fired up and it was truly a win-or-go-home moment for us because we had to get it done.”The Clippers were down 64-56 at halftime before coming back to win and advance to the conference semifinals, where they were beaten in six games by Oklahoma City.Clippers re-sign HudsonThe Clippers on Saturday re-signed guard Lester Hudson to a multi-year agreement. Terms were not disclosed. Doc Rivers had been entertaining the idea of re-signing Nate Robinson, who recently played through two 10-day contracts with the team.“I like his toughness, I just liked his defense,” said Rivers, coach and president of basketball operations. “He has a chance to be a really good defensive player in our program.”Hudson, 30, played in three games during his recent 10-day contract, averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 steals.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

29yearold Tica becomes first certified disabled diver in Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Dancer who lost a leg in Boston Marathon bombing finds solace in Costa Rican scuba diving Water concessions: A priority for use in Costa Rica Top medical experts say we should decriminalize all drugs and maybe go even further Tire mosquito trap could boost Zika control The dive boat pitched in the waves at the mouth of Culebra Bay off the coast of the luxurious Papagayo Peninsula in Guanacaste. Schools of rays jumped out of the water in the distance, flashing their white bellies in the hot sun, unfazed by the waves and wind that buffeted the red and white Buzos de Aventura dive boat on Jan. 25.Natalia Vindas’ smile hid behind a scuba mask and regulator as she floated in the choppy sea. Her legs rested near the surface as she and dive instructor Ernst van der Poll prepared to descend for one of her last skill dives. Vindas soon would become Costa Rica’s first certified disabled, van der Poll said.“We’re opening a big door so that people with reduced mobility problems can access the type of sports that normally aren’t for people in wheelchairs,” Vindas, 29, told The Tico Times, still in her black wetsuit after the dive.“I feel very proud to be the first Tica to break that paradigm and show people the only limits are the ones in your head,” she added. Natalia Vindas. Javier CastañedaOriginally from Heredia, north of San José, Vindas became a civil engineer and traded the green mountains of the Central Valley for the pampas of Guanacaste, where she worked as a highway engineer.One day in 2008, however, she lost control of her truck while not wearing a seatbelt on the job. The truck rolled and threw her from the vehicle, breaking her back.At 21, Vindas lost most of the mobility below her waist, and much of the self-reliance that she had come to enjoy living on her own. She needed help dressing, bathing and getting around as she adapted to life in a wheelchair.“That independence, that capacity to feel that I could do things for myself, that I could go where I wanted, that’s what I lost in the accident,” Vindas said. “That’s the part of diving I love, because it gives me back that independence. I feel so free, I forget about the wheelchair.”A little over a year ago, Vindas heard about adaptive diving, scuba diving specialized for people with disabilities, and met van der Poll, who was married to an old friend of Vindas from school. She went on her first dive in August 2013 with van der Poll and attended a Discover Scuba event at the Four Seasons Papagayo last September, the first of its kind in Costa Rica.Alonso Vindas, Natalia’s 20-year-old brother, took up scuba diving mostly as a way to help his sister at first. But he fell in love with the sport, too.“We both like the same things, we’ve always been partners in adventures,” said Alonso Vindas, who was also completing one of his last skill dives.The siblings teased each other on board the boat after Alonso’s shoulder-length hair caught in his mask. They commiserated on the less than ideal conditions on the water.“The sea was rougher, more turbulent, more difficult to descend,” Vindas observed. The strong currents clouded their visibility.Van der Poll said that Natalia Vindas took to diving naturally, quicker than many able-bodied divers he had taught.The dive master said that they had to develop hand signals for Natalia, since she uses her hands to propel herself underwater.“We’ve been teaching her to be autonomous,” van der Poll said, focusing on finding techniques so she can get her equipment on and off, use a weight belt and build strength.After her first dive six months ago, Vindas set out to become the first certified disabled diver in Costa Rica. Thanks to support from Buzos de Aventura diving company, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, and the Four Seasons, she has been able to achieve her goal. Vindas said she hopes to become certified as a rescue diver too.“In the end that’s what it’s all about,” van der Poll said. “It’s about being inspired by something and then that inspiration follows through and gives purpose.”That new sense of purpose inspired Natalia Vindas to go back to school.She studies architecture, and plans to design buildings and public spaces that better accommodate people with disabilities.“I’m a very restless person. I like to do a lot of things,” she said. “When I do something, I feel like I need to achieve something else to feel like I’m always pushing myself.”That night, in the Four Seasons’ bar, Alonso Vindas leaned over the table to share more about his sister.“A lot of people talk about her like she’s an example. No, just put yourself in her position. [People with disabilities] have the capacity to do it, maybe in a different way, but they can do it,” he said. “I see her as a brave person. Someone who didn’t let the accident conquer her.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more