This video encapsulates my feelings about this night. The play is just magnetic, look at how easily Blake makes that reverse slam look. It’s efficient strength, coordination and focus.
But when you watch it the second and third time you start to pick up on things. Just how bad was that pass into the post? Bledsoe overdribbled, allowing for very little space for Blake to work on the block, and then caromed a bounce pass almost out of bounds. Not pretty.
Then you watch it again and you may happen to see that the score is 48-61 in the third quarter. And with as well as the Clippers have played in the third quarter, it can’t bode well for the rest of the game.
Then, if you happen to look at the right side of the screen, away from Bledsoe and Blake’s two man game, you might notice that all three other Clippers are on the perimeter. Not a big deal, right? I mean it gives the Clippers spacing. Except that Rasual and DeAndre (yes, DeAndre is clopping around the perimeter) are occupying almost the exact same place, allowing Ariza to sag off of Gomes in the Corner without worrying about Gomes having an open shot because Belinelli can cover Gomes and Okafor can cover both DeAndre and Rasual (okay peanut gallery, quiet down with the “even if Gomes was open, he wouldn’t make the shot.”).
Not only is there barely any ball movement, but there isn’t even the possibility of good ball movement. Blake has broken down the D and had he gotten stuck, there would have been nowhere to go. Rasual, being the big perimeter 3 guy on the team, should have shifted over to the other side, or at least the top of the key to provide an outlet should Blake get stuck. I know he started that way, so it shows he has the smarts in place to do the right thing, but I’ve seen old people go on faster beach walks at sunset than Rasual’s mosey.
Combine this exhibition that perfectly epitomizes the Clippers season (enthralling but fundamentally weak) with the way the Hornets are playing and it’s hard to imagine that the Clippers beat the Hornets tonight, even though they host them. Add to it that the Hornets just completed a ‘feel good’ trade for Chris Paul (they just brought in his old Wake Forest buddy, Jarret Jack) and the Clippers are going to have their hands full.
If they are to win, the Clippers have a litany of things to work on:
- Keep Chris Paul in check. At least sort of. I think the hard thing about defending guards of his offensive quality (include Deron Williams and Steve Nash) is that a game plan is needed. It might not work regardless because of the personal scoring ability and the team playsetting they do. I think you just have to pick one and live with it, just to give the defense an identity. Do you want to make the PG a scorer and have very little sagging from the wings (still need some interior D)? Or do you make him give it up and allow other players to get open shots? See what I mean? No good plan. But at least if you pick one, you can hold to it so that the defense will have an identity and know how to defend.
- Rebounds. The Clippers are a good (!) rebounding team, they are in the top ten in rebound rate and the Hornets aren’t great even with Emeka, David West and Chris Paul (for his position). If they can hold this one advantage, maybe even dominate it, that would go a long ways.
- Rotate on Defense. I’m getting tired of saying this so I’m going to look up words for rotate in the thesaurus. The best synonyms seem to be with the idea of taking turns: act reciprocally, alter, blow hot and cold, change, come and go, exchange, fill in for, fluctuate, follow, follow in turn, interchange, intersperse, oscillate, relieve, rotate , seesaw, shift, shilly-shally, substitute, sway, vacillate, vary, waver, yo-yo. Maybe the Clippers have mistaken rotate on defense for vacillate? Maybe shilly-shally? Probably. I bet Vinny looked it up rotate in the thesaurus and just picked up on shilly-shallying. Or not. But at least it would go a long ways to understanding why they are so indecisive.
- Take care of the ball. This will be especially hard with Chris Paul out there doing his best artful Dodger impersonation, stealing the ball 3 times per game. However, if the Clippers are going to win, or start winning (yes, I fearfully introduce the subject of winning multiple games in the future), then they have to protect the basketball.