Blake Griffin lined up on the block with Randy Foye at the line. The Clippers had all but sealed the win, even though the Clips almost completely lost a 29 point lead. Randy Foye missed his second free throw, Blake grabbed the rebound, missed, got his second rebound of the possession for his 10th rebound and his second triple double of the season, a monstrous 31 points (on 13 for 21 shooting), 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
“Well, you can’t say we don’t make it interesting,” Vinny said. “That’s a microcosm of our season.”
Blake’s last second triple double didn’t even count for all the excitement in Clipperland. After amassing a 29 point half time lead over a “tanking” Memphis team, in which Bledsoe had 13 points in addition to Blake’s evisceration of the Grizzlies, the Clippers gave up all but four points before settling back in for the win.
The reality is that there shouldn’t have been too much excitement to write about. The Clippers played a Grizzlies team that sat Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Tony Allen. Or as we all know them, the Grizzlies that give the Clippers the most trouble. There is the argument that the Grizzlies wanted to face the Spurs instead of the Lakers, so they purposefully tanked the game. Without those three starters, the Clippers’ first half lead should have allowed Blake Griffin to sit. Instead, Blake Griffin played 41 minutes and eked out his second triple double of the season.
Everything that the Clippers were doing well (strong bench play, assists) failed them in the second half. The Grizzlies, maybe having seen that the Lakers were losing their lead rapidly, stormed back at the hands of the illustrious crew of Sam Young, Ish Smith, Hamad Haddadi, Greivis Vasquez and Shane Battier in the third. The Grizz charged back on a 11-0 run before a different unit ran out on a 19-4 run in the fourth. When the Clippers were charging in the first half with their second unit, in the second half that same unit coughed up passes and points so quickly that the Clippers didn’t halt the Grizzlies comeback so much as the clock did. Had there been a few more minutes in the game, the Grizzlies would have definitely comeback.
So the Clips get away, they end the season on a win, even if the game was frustrating. They finish with 32 wins on the season (and 50 losses) and that’s improvement. Definitely not as much as Clipper fans and the Clippers themselves would have wanted, but improvement nonetheless.
Now, let’s hope for a quickly agreed upon CBA.
- DeAndre Jordan played well tonight. Not only did he go for 14 points on 5 for 5 shooting, but he defended Gasol very well. Gasol went 5 for 11 from the field and struggled with Jordan’s length even with DeAndre helping so frequently. Most players played against substitute level players, but not DeAndre. And he even grabbed 10 rebounds, stole 3 balls and blocked 2 shots. Not a bad night to end on.
- The Clippers are so good at momentum dunks (and that fast break alley-oop by Bledsoe and Blake was incredible), but they also let the Grizzlies get some good looks. Sam Young and Darrell Arthur found themselves opportunities to dunk and took advantage of it. The Clippers have to be better at letting cutters get around the hoop.
- Eric Bledsoe and the energy. That should be a band name. But seriously, after sitting out a game due to a still unknown (and I asked) suspension, Bledsoe came in and made a huge difference. Bledsoe scored 13 points on 6 for 9 shooting, served 6 assists, stole the ball three times and blocked two shots, but he did most of the damage in the first. He’s still a turnover waiting to happen, but the fact that Bledsoe responded well to the suspension has to be a good sign.
- Another good game for Eric Gordon. He seriously has the most quiet big points of any player I’ve ever watched. He made some huge floaters down the stretch, but when I see that he scored 24 I’m left scratching my head. More important, he had 6 assists and handled the ball well with Mo Williams and Randy Foye struggling. It’ll be interesting to see if the Clippers use Gordon as more of a primary ball handler next year, as he’s much more effective with the ball in his hands.
- Aminu played slightly better in his 24 minutes. He still had a couple dumb turnovers. Let’s face it, if Marc Gasol is getting his feet set on a guy like Aminu, Aminu is probably not doing it right. He’s so quick and agile that he should never have to worry about being called for a charge by running into a guy like Gasol. It’s not like Gasol sneaks up on anyone.
- Blake had an amazing amount of dunks tonight. I posted some of the clips, but I couldn’t find the fast break double clutch that was so awesome. In that vein, Eric Bledsoe also had some ridiculous jams.
- Leon Powe was tossed first, then Craig Smith later, and the game saw a handful of technical fouls over the course of the game. This is not unusual for the Clippers, as they have found a way to get under other teams’ skins. This can be used for a lot of good.
- Foye and Williams played terribly, almost like they were on the last day of work before the vacation. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what it was.