Clippers didn’t lose this game in the second half, they lost it in the first. The last two quarters were only an anticlimactic continuance of their early game bad habits.
“They were more hungry than us but that doesn’t give us an excuse to be that soft,” Vinny said.
The most obvious disappointment in the game was, strangely, Blake Griffin. He scored 8 points on 4 for 10 shooting and 0 for 3 from the free throw line while grabbing 9 rebounds (his fourth consecutive non-double double, keeping him one shy of Elton Brand’s franchise record of 55 double doubles). But those numbers belied the real problem, which was his terrible defense on Zach Randolph.
Randolph scored 32 points on 12 for 18 shooting, grabbed 12 rebounds and barely had to work for position in the post against Griffin. Didn’t matter if Randolph was on the block, passing around in the high low, on the fast break or even if he was shooting threes, he got what he wanted because he used his girth to seal off Blake and create open shots. He also played Blake rarely needed any help on Blake on defense, allowing the rest of his team to cause havoc for the Clippers offense.
The main culprit for defensive mayhem was Tony Allen, he swiped the Clipper players three times (twice in the first quarter) as a part of the Grizzlies 14 team steals. 14. The Clippers could hardly dribble or pass, let alone shoot, which would explain why the Clips shot a mediocre 40 percent from the field and a terrible 23.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Even beyond Blake, there were loads of poor games. Mo Williams was the lone starter for the Clips to reach double figures and he only scored 11 points on 3 for 8 shooting (2 for 4 from beyond the arc, 3 for 3 from the free throw line), dished out 2 assists while turning the ball over 5 times. Randy Foye notched 8 points and just a single assist. DeAndre Jordan only picked 3 rebounds to go along with his 9 points (although he had two blocks, one a pretty spectacular bank off the glass to start a fast break). And Ryan Gomes, he was pulled from the game in the third quarter due to a bruised right knee, but he wasn’t doing anything before that happened. Gomes failed to sink a single basket on 4 tries.
The only silver linings in the game came in the form of Eric Bledsoe and Chris Kaman. Bledsoe’s best play happened in the first quarter when he chased down O.J. Mayo and blocked him from behind on the fast break. He also drew a smart (can’t believe I’m using that with Bledsoe) charge on Mike Conley and used his strength and athleticism to get to the rim repeatedly. Unfortunately for the Clippers, the majority of Bledsoe’s points came when the game was far out of reach (13 of his 19 were in the last 15 minutes, when the Griz had mounted a 25 point lead). Kaman scored 8 of his 14 points in the first half, but even he had some trouble taking Marc Gasol. Kaman shot 7 for 13 but he really had to earn it. At 4:20 in the first Kaman set up for what he thought was an open jumper at the top of the key, only to have Gasol block it. Unlike the rest of his teammates though, Kaman chased after the block and found himself under the basket after he gathered the rebound, where he made the quick bucket.
That said, the bench, even with Bledsoe and Kaman in the lineup didn’t perform nearly as well as they would have liked. They allowed players like Grievis Vasquez, Darrell Arthur and Leon Powe to score efficiently and often. Powe scored 8 points in only 4 minutes of play, while Arther and Vasquez had more moderate evenings in their respective 20 and 16 minutes when they scored 12 and 11 points. Those three had huge hand in turning the game into a rout at the end of the first half. The Clippers are now 0-16 when trailing on the road after halftime.
As horrible as this loss was, the road trip proved far more successful than anyone could have reasonably predicted given the Clippers’ record on the road this season and the fact that Eric Gordon injured himself before the trip. In the next nine games, only one will be played outside of Staples (in Phoenix), so the Clippers will be able to feast on homecooking and grow from their more sweet than sour road trip.