Five thoughts from tonight’s game:
- Patience: Similar to their loss to the Warriors a few days ago, the Clippers don’t exercise their advantages nearly enough on the offensive end. Toronto is a miserable defensive team (last in the league in defensive efficiency at 109.8), but the Clippers bail them out by not testing them with deep dribble penetration. Instead the Clippers elect to jack up 25 threes in the game, and although quite a few fall down in the first half where the Clippers held the lead at it’s conclusion, the shooters go cold in the second half. It sounds strange, but working for easier looks is outside the comfort zones of all the Clippers, with the exception of Craig Smith and DeAndre Jordan. Butler, Kaman, Blake, Gordon, Outlaw, Gooden and Brown all rely on their jump shot as their primary offensive weapon. As we’ve seen all season, if you get into a jump shooting battle with a team like Toronto, you’re most likely going to lose.
- Chris Kaman: The one player who really came in with an attacking mindset tonight was, surprisingly enough, Chris Kaman. Although some of his moves around the hole were a little on the soft side, Kaman made a point to attack the basket and not settle for his jumper as much as he has in the past. Kaman’s decision to go the hole improved his entire offensive game, and in particular put him in great rebounding position on the offensive glass. Tonight, Kaman played like a 7-footer with elite footwork in a size mismatch should. Kaman ended up with 22 points and 7 offensive rebounds, and got to the line six times. It wasn’t his greatest game by any means, but it was an encouraging outing from a guy that has fallen in love with his jumper much too often.
- Point Guards: Steve Blake and Bobby Brown did an admirable job filling in for the injured Baron Davis tonight, posting a combined 16 assists and just one turnover. Although Blake was solid, particularly in pick and roll sets, the offense as a whole is still much more dynamic with Baron on the floor. Blake is great for what he is, but he simply can’t create his own offense off the dribble. Although Blake almost always hits the right guy along the perimeter for open looks, this group desperately needs someone who can at least serve as a threat to score at the rim. In the fourth quarter the Raptors began to play tighter along the perimeter and stay at home, and no one on the Clips could take advantage.
- Eric Gordon: The struggles continue. Gordon has shot less than 33% from the field in six of his last seven games, and at this point is just missing wide open looks. At [5:20, 4thQ] the Clips run a familiar flare screen for Gordon along the perimeter, and Gordon gets the ball with his feet set, no one near him, and all the time in the world to cue it up. Like most of his other attempts on the night, the shot just doesn’t fall. Gordon goes 3-for-13 tonight from the field, missing quite a few wide open looks along the way.
- Blake Griffin: Some nights I imagine how the game would play out if Blake Griffin were healthy. With Chris Bosh rattling off 33 points, tonight was one of those nights. Bosh is obviously an excellent offensive player and he proved he could dismantle every type of big man. Against Drew Gooden, Bosh worked freely in the post and used his quick feet around the rim. Against Chris Kaman, Bosh could pull the true center out with his mid-range jumper. Against Craig Smith, Bosh could shoot right over the top without worry of getting his shot blocked or altered. Against DeAndre Jordan, Bosh could use pump fakes to draw fouls and penalize the eager big man. The Clippers tried everything and everyone, including a zone in the second quarter that temporarily slowed down the Raps offense, but they simply could not stop Bosh. Maybe Griffin doesn’t shut down Bosh, but you’d have to think he’d at least slow him down a bit. Behind Bosh’s offensive output, the Raptors shoot their way to an insane 61% night from the field.