The Clippers 103-96 victory tonight over the Utah Jazz ensures them a spot in the” finals” tomorrow where they’ll battle the host Lakers for the “championship” of the Lakers preseason shootout tournament. No word yet on whether there will be a goofy trophy presentation for the winner tomorrow, but if there is, we’ll be able to witness it in all it’s awkward glory because the game will be televised at 7:30pm on Fox Sports West. Joel and Stu will have the call, but if you’re craving some Ralph you can follow him and his mid game tweets here.
Before moving on to tomorrow, let’s take a look at how the Clippers secured a victory tonight.
- Blake Griffin put in a solid game tonight, going for 16pts, 8 boards, 2 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in 34 minutes of play. That’s back to back good showings against two of the better defensive teams in the league in San Antonio and Utah. It may only be preseason, so of course the stats and wins don’t count, but the confidence Blake can carry over to the regular season is very real.
- As a team, the Clippers shot extremely well (52%), but turned the ball over 19 times. In the regular season, a team as good as Utah will usually make you pay, but to the Clippers credit they blocked 9 total shots and turned the Jazz over 20 times themselves.
- The starters tonight were Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Rasual Butler, Blake Griffin, and Chris Kaman, and they all played pretty heavy minutes – Gordon (37) and Kaman (35) in particular. Marcus Camby (ankle, out 1-2 weeks) sat tonight along with Sebastian Telfair (ankle, day-to-day). Al Thornton didn’t see much time tonight, playing 10 minutes to Butler’s 26 minutes. It’s difficult to interpret what this really means. Is Dunleavy resting Thornton to prepare him for the regular season? Or is he tipping his hand by playing Butler more minutes and giving him the starting nod? This can be probably be filed in the “don’t look too much into it” category, as Dunleavy likely wants to give Butler additional time to gel with his new teammates.
- Kareem Rush played perfect basketball in his 14 minutes, going 4-4 from the field, 3-3 from deep, and 2-2 from the line to put his total at 13 points. There still isn’t much indication that him or Roberson(4 min, 2 points) will make the final roster, but Rush probably distanced himself a bit from the rest of the pack tonight by icing this contest with his lights out shooting.
- Craig Smith played the part Lisa Dillman described for him perfectly tonight, finishing with 12 points and 6 personal fouls. That’s right – Rhino (and Baron!) fouled out in a preseason game. Bang on, Rhino. Bang on.
- Lastly, the bad news: In a combined 63 minutes of play, Rasual Butler and Eric Gordon pulled in two measly rebounds. Keep a close eye on this – the lack of rebounding from the wings absolutely destroyed the Clippers last year. It’s something to work on.