With all eyes focused on the looming offseason, the Clippers were reminded tonight what a star player looks like when they took on the Portland Trailblazers and Brandon Roy.
I’ve never been bashful about stating my admiration for Roy’s offensive game. His body control around the rim is second to none. His midrange game is deadly, and he’s a mismatch in either size or quickness (usually both) for opposing players. But what most impresses me about Roy is his silent nature in which he controls the game. Roy rarely acts out, rarely demands the ball and demeans teammates, and is often willing to take a backseat to another Blazer if there is a better matchup on the floor.
Roy demonstrates his unselfishness early on tonight by deferring to LaMarcus Aldridge for much of the first half, and the Blazers carry a four point lead into halftime. With playoff positioning on the line in a tight game, Brandon Roy comes out in the second half and does what any real star should: He absolutely takes over the game.
[11:25, 3rd Q] Right away the Blazers get Brandon Roy the ball in post. Here, Roy catches it in the mid-post with Baron Davis on him. Baron is a very strong post defender who is accustomed to guarding bigger guys on the block, but Roy simply manhandles him with a simple blast back that knocks Baron into next week. With the new found space, Roy wheels into the paint and hits an easy little floater at the rim.
[10:45, 3rd Q] The Blazers go right back to it the very next possession with Roy on the left mid-block. Roy once again creates contact, but this time it’s with Gordon covering him, a bulky dude in his own right. Gordon flies back a bit on the initial bump, but quickly recovers and bodies up on Roy’s back. Roy gives him a few more bumps, the last of which creates enough space for him to get off a turnaround jumper from the baseline that’s true.
[9:52, 3rdQ] After sending a double team to Roy on the block and forcing a Marcus Camby missed slingshot from 19-feet on the previous possession, the Blazers choose to clear out for Roy at the top of the key. It’s Rasual Butler who draws the assignment this time, but Roy is much too quick off the bounce for Butler here. It only takes a few dribbles for Roy to get by Butler, and with Butler trying to play catchup, Roy stops on a dime and nails the pullup jumper from about 10-feet.
[8:52, 3rdQ] Here’s where you really start to see the effects of having a star player like Roy offensively. Brandon Roy and Marcus Camby run a pick and roll from the right elbow, and Drew Gooden comes off Camby to trap Roy and get the ball out of his hands. Roy swings the ball to Batum at the top of the key, and Batum finds LaMarcus Aldridge with deep position in the post against the recovering Clippers’ bigs. The baby hook goes in, for Aldridge, plus the foul. Hockey assist to Roy.
[6:40, 3rdQ] Roy and Aldridge clear out to the left side of the floor, with Aldridge on the block and Roy on the wing. After the entry feed, Aldridge has all day to wheel and deal on the block because Rasual Butler can’t leave Roy and double-down with any help. The result is a turnaround jumper from Aldridge, which is exactly what he wants to get in that situation.
[4:06. 3rdQ] Roy is isolated on the left elbow against Gordon where he is absolutely lethal, mainly because his entire offensive repertoire can be utilized. Here, Gordon gives Roy’s penetration ability a little too much respect, and Roy simply rises and fires from 18-feet. It’s good.
[:02, 3rdQ] With the exception of LeBron, Manu Ginobili, and maybe Kobe, there’s no one I’d rather have in a late clock situation than Brandon Roy. It’s actually a little silly how easy Roy makes it look here in isolation at the top of the key against Gordon with time running down. Roy beats Gordon to his right, slows down a bit to let Gordon catch up, throws a tiny fake drop step to the middle of the lane, and raises up from about eight feet to hit a right-handed jump hook. Basically, that’s a Tim Duncan move pulled off by a 6-foot 6 guard.
Roy’s incredible third quarter performance buries the Clippers. After being down just four going into halftime, the Clippers fall behind 17 points to end the third. Steve Blake tries to bring the Clippers back into it all by his lonesome in the fourth quarter, but it’s too little, too late.
Watching Roy dismantle the Clippers defense in a variety of ways just further illustrates that the Clippers don’t have that guy. When they need buckets to put games away, there’s no player who can do everything. Baron can do a little bit of what Roy does, but his shooting deficiencies stop him from being a crunch time threat. Kaman can usually score one on one in the post, but a simple double team can end that quickly. Gordon can usually get by his man in isolation, but send waves of help and he has trouble finding the open man. We don’t know for sure what Blake Griffin can and can’t do, but his skillset doesn’t scream “end of game scorer.”
If the Clippers are dreaming of being a playoff contender in the Western Conference, they need that guy.
Anyone know where we could find one?