After a three from Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan made two free throws to tie the score at 106 with 4 minutes left. Despite the pace of play in the game, the Clippers were right there, with a shot to win in a game that they would have been run off the floor earlier in the season. But they gave up a pair of Vladmir Radmanovic threes, a David Lee layup and a Monta Ellis layup and suddenly, the game was out of reach.
While the Clippers had a good chance to win, I find it hard to say that they should have won. They gave up 51 percent from the field, 54 percent from three combined with the Warriors making 92 percent from the line (22 for 24). At least they finally held Dorell Wright in check, after torching the Clippers in their first two meetings of the season, he was held to 4 for 10 shooting and 11 points. The difficulty with the Warriors though, is if you stop one perimeter threat, there is always two more. Stop Dorell and Monta burns you for 30. Stop Monta and Dorell scores 27. And then there’s Curry, who gives Gordon a run for his money on prettiest jumper.
An argument could be made that the zone defense that the Clippers played was responsible for the high percentage of threes and the breakdowns inside. But the Clippers didn’t play it the entire game and I felt like the bigger issue was that they didn’t rotate on defense nearly as fiercely as they did against the Heat. I think that’s the issue that LeBron brought up about playing with the same intensity every night. It was still there on offense for the Clips, but they didn’t look like they had quite the same effort on defense. That’s changing, to an extent, but they are going to have to ramp that intensity up if they want to make a serious push for the playoffs, especially since they are about to go on a monster 11-game road trip in February.
The Clippers still played well in other areas. Blake had his 24th straight double double and his 14th straight with 20 and 10, but it felt like they were going for the “big play” too often. The best highlights weren’t the alley-oops that the Clippers made, but the huge dunk that Blake almost crushed on Biedrins in the first quarter and the three quarter court lob to Blake for the reverse alley-oop.
– Despite Baron’s 6 for 15 shooting, I didn’t mind his shot selection. He stuck to the paint a lot and had he made a couple of lay-ups that he normally makes he would have shot 8 for 15. It’s easy to point to his 4 threes, but there were a lot more to be taken given the slow rotation of the Warriors’ defense. Baron even shrugged off threes, one in particular was at the end of the second quarter when he pump faked on a relatively open three to drive and then kick out to Eric Gordon for a very open three. He did get a little excited about the long distance ally-oops, but I’d rather have an overly excited Baron than an apathetic one.
– Bledsoe and Aminu. Didn’t score a lot but I really see a lot of improvement in their defense and decision making. Neither had a turnover, and between them they had 3 steals and a block. The highlights were a Bledsoe rip where he raced it down the court for the feed to Diogu for the dunk (we’ll get to Diogu later) and the coast to coast lay-up by Aminu to beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter. Aminu didn’t make any threes, which was a sore spot for the Clippers on the whole (3 for 14) but I liked that he grabbed 6 rebounds in 20 minutes. He’s starting to look more active.
– Diogu. 13 points on 6 for 8 shooting. He still doesn’t rebound terribly well, only 2 in 13 minutes, but he’s beginning to find his niche in the offense. When Cook comes back, I’ll be interested in VDN’s minute distribution. Diogu has played well of late but I still think that Cook played better D this year and rebounds slightly better than Diogu (Cook has a 13.4 percent rebound rate compared to Diogu’s 12.4). Still, he’s been a blessing with Rhino and Cookie out.
– Eric Gordon. Can’t say enough good things about him. He shot efficiently (11 for 18) and he made crucial points down the stretch. He continues to be the Clippers go-to guy, despite the fact that Griffin gets all the highlights. Still struggling with TOs (4), he at least continues to make way in the assist (7) and rebound departments (4). He could be like Monta Ellis who hasn’t had a rebound in the last 83 minutes.