• Chris Paul has eyes behind his head, around his head and on his head. You can’t convince me otherwise. He makes the right play about 95 percent of the time (which is absurdly high). In a millisecond, Paul analyzes the defense and decides the best option. He knows who to pass it to (and where), when to make the pass and what type of pass to execute. It’s ridiculous and a joy to watch.
• Blake’s activity was much better this game (I’m still speechless about that show he put on in the fourth quarter — unreal). At first, he settled for a couple of jumpers and looked a bit out of it. By the second quarter he returned to his ways, and attacked the basket at will. His footwork was impeccable and it looked like he had some new moves. That’s the Blake this team needs. They have enough shooters.
• Mo Williams showed he can do it all (scoring-wise) — spot up, move off the ball, score in transition. Best case-scenario, he’s the Clippers’ go-to guy off the bench and scores 12-15 points per night. He still makes bad decisions (like over-dribbling, not looking for the open man, taking contested pull-up jumpers), but the Clips can live with that if he’s scoring at a somewhat decent rate. Defensively, though, he needs a lot of work. When Steve Blake is getting open that says something about your lack of effort.
• Caron Butler can be a ball-stopper at times (16 points on 16 shots). Watching him dribble is just awkward — he’s only looking for his shot, then at the last second he’ll throw a hot potato to someone. When he’s off the ball (backdoors, ball cuts, off-ball screens), he’s much better. Spotting up? Perfect. If he can play the way he did in the third quarter, he’ll be worth the $8 million (ok, maybe not, but he’ll be worth 80 percent of it).
• Brian Cook and Trey Thompkins clearly can’t play together at all — opposing big men will have a field day in the paint. Hopefully, with the acquisition of Reggie Evans, the Clippers will only use Cook or Thompkins with Griffin, Jordan or Evans. They need bulk, toughness and tenacity to compliment the finesse, perimeter game of the two big men. I like their hustle and energy though; both guys clearly try their hardest.
• Andrew Bynum Kaiser Soze-ed the Clippers. He absolutely mauled Cook and Thompkins, but more impressively, Jordan too. He has a knack for this; his career-high is 42 points vs. the Clippers back in 2009. His next highest scoring output? 28 points vs. Phoenix in 2008. He just hates the Clippers. As far as this game goes, I’m not sure if it means Bynum is finally coming into his own (which we’ve seen/felt before) or the Clippers actually have a cause for concern down low.
• The Clippers got out-hustled on the boards again, this time in embarrassing fashion … a measely 27 rebounds to the Lakers’ 44 (a 17 rebound difference for those of who that aren’t good at math). Even with Odom, the Lakers are tough team to keep up with rebound-wise; Bynum and Gasol are massive, and McRoberts and Murphy are solid “energy” guys. Nonetheless, if the Clippers get out-rebounded by the Warriors’ quartet of Lee-Biedrins-Brown-Udoh, there’s a problem.
• The Lakers weren’t a good test for the Clippers’ perimeter defense. Metta World Peace and Barnes don’t shoot or score that much. Kobe didn’t play in Game 2 and had his way in Game 1 (with Butler guarding him). Blake (while he had an impressive game, that is not the norm — at all), Fisher and Goudelock aren’t more than just shooters — the Clippers should be fine handling those type of guards (unless Mo is guarding them). Ebanks had a solid game, but it’s preseason. I want to see how the Clippers defend James/Wade, Durant/Westbrook, Pierce/Allen/Rondo and Ginobili/Parker. Those will be the real tests.
• Defensively, there were times the Clippers looked out of sync. The Lakers had too many wide-open dunks, lay-ups and 3-pointers off of missed rotations and bad communication. This, I’m sure, is just a matter of a new group of players trying to adjust to each other’s tendencies and habits, but it could get ugly against the wrong team. The only way the Warriors have a shot at beating the Clips is by out-running and out-gunning them. Defensive lapses are the key to jumpstarting that process.
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