Mo Williams brought the ball up, waiting for Griffin to set the high screen. The Celtics had relentlessly pushed back, brought the game back to 97-91. Mo dribbled to the left, but Garnett and Rondo trapped early and Mo swung the ball to Blake. Garnett flocked to Blake. But instead of Blake taking Garnett one on one, which would have been a disaster considering the way that KG and the Celtics smothered BG all night, Blake waited for Mo to take the high ball screen. Mo grabbed the ball, Rondo swooping around the screen but the effort wasn’t enough to stop Mo from draining the leg-swinging three. Bingo. Clippers up 100-91. Lawler’s Law.
Clippers won their biggest game of their giant slaying season to extend their longest winning streak of the season to four games.
Mo Williams completely took over the leadership down the stretch. Even on the buckets he didn’t make, he assisted or was involved. When the Kevin Garnett made a (rare) jumper and brought the Celtics within three (86-83), Mo took a really high screen from DeAndre and drew the foul on Rondo as he heaved up a three point attempt, then Mo made all three free throws. When Paul Pierce drew the foul and made both free throws, pulling the Celtics within 4 (89-85), Mo Williams drilled a Randy Foye assisted corner three to get the game back up to seven. Mo assisted on Ryan Gomes corner three to put the game up 10 (97-87) and he dumped a pass off to DeAndre off the drive for a monster jam. All of this on top of the Lawler’s Law three.
Even if the game was sealed on the four consecutive free throws of DeAndre Jordan (after which an on fire Ralph Lawler said “The Leprechaun has left the building”) and Randy Foye, it was Mo’s leadership down the stretch that really made the difference tonight. Mo seems to be figuring out his roll with the Clippers well and, for the first time in his career, finds himself in the perfect position for his game. Mo Williams was meant to be a pick and roll player. His best situation for his skills was when he played with Andrew Bogut in Bogut’s first two years with the Bucks, but Blake suits the movement of Mo’s game so much better. Against the Celtics, the match really showed. Mo was hot from the start, making 7 of 9 in the first half and he finished with 9 for 17 (his only two buckets in the second half being the monster threes in the fourth quarter). The Celtics were so occupied with Blake that it left Mo open all first half. But more than that, when Dain Blanton interviewed Mo at half time, Mo placed the impetus for improvement square on himself. He said that the team needed to be more careful with the ball and then singled himself out. Anyone watching would have said that was obvious, Mo had just finished throwing the worst alley-oop pass to Blake all season (and that’s really saying something), but that integrity and sense of responsibility is uncommon. And when the Celtics charged back in the fourth, Mo took the initiative to talk to his teammates, and make sure they knew that the game was not over. Could he be like Sam Ca… nah, I won’t go there yet.
Perhaps just as inspiring as Mo’s performance was DeAndre Jordan. After posting an atrocious game on Monday against the Charlotte Bobcats, DeAndre Jordan came back with unquestionably his best offensive game all year and maybe his best all-around game. He didn’t have the gaudy defensive statistics that he’s had in other games, only 9 rebounds and 1 block, but he made those count. His one block came when Garnett was iso-ed on him on the low block and he completely roofed Garnett. He’d been hounding KG all night (KG shot an atrocious 5 for 19) and it was largely due to the length of DeAndre Jordan. He bothered KG from the very start, contesting shots in the paint and reaching his 7’9” wingspan (and I thought it was 7’6”) into KG’s face on the jumpers. And he did that while playing solid pick and roll defense on Rondo. Amazing. Everything that the Clippers have always wanted from DeAndre showed up in this game against the Celtics. Heck, there was more even. In the first quarter, on the baseline extended block, DeAndre found himself iso-ed on Garnett and completely shook him before hammering down a dunk. Incredible. All it took was Vinny threatening his position. Just wow.
- Blake played his worst game in a long while. Every time that Mo turned on the pick and roll, KG and the Celtics stayed with Griffin, a big reason that Mo scored the way he did. Even when Blake plays bad just the threat of him is enough to give his teammates open looks. I guarantee that Mo wants to kiss Olshey for trading for him so he gets to play with Blake.
- Randy Foye had 12 assists. 12. Had three more than Rondo and 5 more assists than shot attempts. Not exactly the normal game for Foye but you have to admire his ability to mutate his game to fit the situation, at least in this instance. The highlight? His over the head bouncer to Aminu on the break. Gorgeous.
- Bledsoe appeared more composed, even in only 18 minutes. He had one particular play where Mo needed to be bailed out, Bledsoe was positioned under the rim, picked up the pass and searched for a player to pass it to. Instead of passing though, Bledsoe cleverly stepped in and laid the ball in.
- Kaman didn’t play as well as he did against Charlotte, scoring only 10 points on 4 for 9 shooting. He’s still a huge boost off the bench, but it wasn’t the night that he wanted if he’s thinking of getting the starting job back. DeAndre’s still inconsistent, this night only more evidence of DJ’s inconsistencies, but what DJ can bring, Kaman can’t. And vice versa.
- Still let up 11 offensive rebounds, but out-rebounded the Celtics overall. There wasn’t one particular big to blame, Blake, DeAndre and Kaman all did a terrible job of boxing out Krstic who slid in for 6 offensive rebounds. Just like Krstic did in the last game. Nearly cost the Clippers the game.
- Aminu didn’t play a lot of minutes, but his block on Ray Allen from behind was amazing and the play only augmented when the aforementioned Foye overhead bounce pass reached Aminu who beat every Celtic down the other end for the flush. A play that showed the exact potential of Al-Farouq Aminu.
- Really like the way Blake challenged Paul Pierce with 7 minutes left in the third. He went straight up and held his ground while also contesting the shot and not drawing the foul. Nice change from Blake’s normal routine of standing still to not draw the foul.
- Gomes was quietly really good, making the big three to put it back to 10. He also had 12 points on 5 for 8 shooting. Great. Also had the three in the corner earlier in the game.
- The Clippers gave up 37 in the fourth, and 61 total in the second half, which would have normally spelled their demise. The Clips have to do a better job on defense coming down the stretch. They did so well to start out, but if they are going to jump to the next level, the team will need to have their defensive effort become more consistent.