Quick thoughts about the win:
- Saturday night’s affair is a horrendous offensive showcase. As they did in their last meeting ten days ago, both teams shoot below 40 percent from the field. Once Danny Granger leaves the game when he aggravates his bruised right heel in the opening minute of the third quarter, the Pacers have nobody who can advance the ball toward the basket in a half-court set. It’s a luxury the Clippers enjoy. They routinely switch perimeter pick-and-rolls against the Pacers shooters — something they don’t do willingly most nights, but feel comfortable doing against a poky Indiana team. Few of the Pacers’ snipers can put the ball on the floor, and both Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman do an effective job of walling off the paint when T.J. Ford or Dahntay Jones try to penetrate.
- Some of what you see is bad offense on the part of Indiana, but the Clippers’ defense is stingy down the stretch. Camby forces a turnover in a four-point game, when he fronts Hibbert and steals the entry pass (4th, 6:17). A minute later, Eric Gordon disrupts a Pacers’ break by picking Earl Watson’s pocket (4th, 5:19). Throughout the closing minutes of the game, the defense makes quick, sharp decisions on both rotations and in switch-and-recover situations. They also close out on the Pacers’ shooters with a fury. The sequence is reminiscent of the fourth quarter against Memphis, as the Pacers have a miserable time trying to find clean looks against an active, dogged Clippers’ defense.
- After Saturday night’s effort, the Clippers are the league’s 11th most efficient defense.
- Camby continues to produce good offense for the Clippers as a facilitator at the top of the circle. He leads the team in assists Saturday night with six dimes, and has become particularly good at hitting Al Thornton on the move and in high-low situations. He’s posting his highest assist rate of his career this season, and is tops among centers playing greater than 20 minutes per game.
- For the second time in three games, Rasual Butler logs fewer than 20 minutes. He continues to struggle, going scoreless on three shot attempts. Butler compounds his problems by trying to spark plays as a creator, something he has neither the handle nor athleticism to do. But he’s also passing up open shots from long range, which means he’s grinding himself into obsolescence. If a player whose primary function is to stretch the floor signals that he doesn’t demand coverage beyond 18 feet, then he’s in trouble. Butler is working tirelessly on his jumper, but right now that effort isn’t translating into much.
- A good selection of shots from Al Thornton: 12 of his 17 attempts come inside of 15 feet (6-9 FGA, along with three trips to the line, for a total of 17 points). He goes only 1-5 from 15 feet and beyond. Even more impressive than the distribution are the instincts Thornton displays in half-court situations. When the Clippers pick up one of their 19 offensive rebounds at (3rd, 4:53), the Pacers’ defense scrambles to regroup. Indiana center Roy Hibbert ends up on Thornton, who recognizes this instantly. Al immediately drifts back outside, where he collects a pass from Baron Davis, then drives to the hole. He breezes past Hibbert and sinks the right-handed floater from five feet.
- The Clippers are able to offset their 21 turnovers (15 of them in the first half) with 19 offensive rebounds. The Clippers’ size enables them to manhandle the Pacers on the glass. The Clips yield only four offensive boards and a mere two second-chance points to Indiana. Over the past couple of weeks, the Clips have upped their rebounding rate from below 48.5 to up near 50. That’s good news. With their combination of size, strength and athleticism, there’s no good reason they should rank in the bottom half of the Association in this category.