Blake Griffin will be kicking himself after this one. Down by a point, Blake Griffin called for the ball. 3.8 seconds left in the game, Kris Humphries on his back, and Blake Griffin spun and took the ball hard to the rim. He rose in the air, cocked his arm back and looked like he was going to jam the ball home for the victory. Instead, he was fouled hard.
Two shots. 1.2 seconds left.
If he makes them both, the Clippers win their third in a row on the road, fifth total. First shot, swish. Second shot, Blake doesn’t leave the line, doesn’t do anything but hold his gaze on the rim. He lines the shot up, cocks his wrist, and may have hitched just a shade longer than normal. The shot hit halfway down, low on the far rim, ricocheted off the front and out. Overtime.
Like Buckner’s ball between the legs, it wasn’t the last straw, but the most iconic one. The simple play that would have ended the game. However, unlike Buckner’s ball, Blake has the opportunity to play another day. Except that I doubt he’s taking this loss well. I can’t imagine that he’s not shooting free throws somewhere or preparing himself to shoot free throws. Maybe this makes his improved free throw shooting even better.
What is certain is that the Clippers didn’t lose as a direct result of that missed free throw. Even if they didn’t have an overtime to play, the Clips had far more culprits than a blown free throw. Blake himself had bigger issues, he allowed Kris Humphries to completely dominate. Humphries didn’t miss a single shot (8 for 8 from the field, 3 for 3 from the line), which on any night would be a big enough problem, but Humphries offensive successes were compounded by his rebounding. He grabbed 20, yes, 20 rebounds.
But Blake shouldn’t put his head down, and I doubt he will because he still played very well. 23 points on 9 for 18 shooting, 9 rebounds and a block. When the game came down to the wire, the Clippers went to him and he had a spin move to get a bucket and put the Clippers up 93-92, before the Clippers eventually ceded a Brook Lopez post move.
This was a game that should have been won. No question. Even just fixing a couple things with Blake and the result probably would have morphed into a win. But there was so much more. The Clippers were up 20 in the first half, held the Nets to 37 points after the completion of the half and yet they allowed the Nets to come back. Didn’t matter if DeAndre or Kaman was on Brook Lopez, no one was stopping the Nets center. However, that’s somewhat understandable. Lopez is a respected player in the league. He has a tendency to shoot too many jumpers at times, but he’s still a refined offensive player.
What was more disturbing was allowing Jordan Farmar to score 24 points in the second half. Not that Mo has ever been known as a defensive minded point guard, but Jordan Farmar isn’t even in the top-30 tough point guard covers in the league. He’s a backup, a fickle insurance policy. Mo’s play may have been influenced by his equally abysmal night on offense. He shot 3 for 17 in his worst performance, by far, in a Clippers uniform. Bad days can happen, but Mo needs to avoid letting his play on one side of the ball affect the other. Because Blake doesn’t deserve to have the full blame on a loss to the Nets.
- Kaman played out of his mind on offense tonight. He drained his baseline and top of the key jumpers, he made a couple bunnies around the rim. The Nets couldn’t find a way to stop Kaman. He didn’t play his best on Brook, but neither did DeAndre. Where the two Clippers centers were once playing bad in the same game or good, with Vinny’s motivational quotes DeAndre and Kaman have now taken to alternating. Kaman had by far the better game, and DeAndre was completely schooled in the second half. He didn’t score a point or grab a rebound or, unfortunately, play any defense. I assume he’ll have a good game tomorrow and Kaman will revert to playing poorly. Maybe the Clippers just need them both.
- Randy Foye’s homecoming might not have been as pleasant as he wanted, but he still played well. Maybe he didn’t make the three pointer in the last seconds of overtime that could have pushed the game on, but he did make a huge three to put the Clippers up 79-76 with less than 8 minutes in the fourth, en route to 19 points on 8 for 16 shooting. He passed out 7 assists as well and had a great fast break block on Jordan Farmar (when Farmar was scorching hot). It’s a shame that the Clippers didn’t win, but you can’t really blame Randy. His cover struggled too (Sasha Vujacic made a paltry two of ten shots).
Al-Farouq Aminu, Jamario Moon and Ryan Gomes continue with mediocre production from the small forward position. Gomes played awfully on offense, but had four steals. Aminu had 8 points and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes. But I’m interested in Jamario. He seems to be having a bigger impact than Aminu and Gomes, but I wonder how curious the Clippers are about retaining his services when he’s essentially considered an expiring contract.