ClipperBlog contributor Michael Shagrin takes a look at the 16-0 run that fueled a Clippers victory last night against the Nets. Read on:
There was a lot to be happy about and a lot to groan about in yesterday’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day victory over the less than impressive Nets. Without their anchoring post-presence Brook Lopez, the Clippers still managed to let New Jersey tie the game up in the 4th quarter after failing to maintain a double-digit lead.
Many of yesterday’s problems can be written off as consequences of the two injured All-Star PGs sitting on the Clippers bench, so in that spirit, I’d like to focus on how this team can function successfully without these two players on the floor. The key today was turning defensive pressure into points on offense. We saw a clinic in this aggressive style during the middle of the 1st quarter when the Clippers went on a 16-0 run.
11-10. Clippers lead.
7:10: After an unproductive possession, the Clippers get bailed out with a Defensive 3 in the Key call. Chauncey hits from the stripe. On the possession, Foye drives to the hoop for a strong but contested lay-up, and he doesn’t get it to fall.
6:50: Humphries gets blocked by Griffin. The most hated man in the NBA manages to get the ball back, but DeAndre has come in for support and completely roofs Humphries to the delight of the Los Angeles/Kardashian-crowd. The play turned into a breakaway with DJ finding an unhindered lane to the hoop. Caron throws an errant alley-oop pass that gets deflected by Mehmet Okur. Turnover Clippers.
6:28: DJ shows off his soccer moves with a kickball. This is where the Clippers decide they’re going to start playing the gritty D that they know could absolutely smother a weak team like the Nets. Strong D off the out of bounds leads to a Marshon Brooks airball.
6:00: After an awful possession of emotionless pick and rolls and nothing more than gestures at driving to the hoop, Chauncey launches an off-balance fadeaway from just inside the 3 point line as the shot clock winds down. DJ manages to save the possession by getting right up into Kris Humphries and forcing him to tip it out of bounds. This is DJ’s second disruptive play in the last minute.
5:35: Some quality ball movement leading to a Blake feed to DJ on which he gets fouled. DJ makes the first, then has his second roll around before popping out. First substitution for the Clippers is Ryan Gomes for Chauncey Billups.
5:15: Deron Williams is trying his best to create offense out of a motionless Nets but Randy Foye is staying right up in his grill, not giving him an inch of space. Williams ends up kicking it out to the foolishly confident DeShawn Stevenson. His 3-point attempts bounces off the right side of the rim, only to be redirected toward the sideline by DeAndre Jordan. Blake takes off wildly towards the sideline, then flings himself in the air towards the ball in the air and while, floating out of bounds, he manages to grab the ball and toss it accurately to Randy Foye near halfcourt. Foye heaves the ball to Caron Butler standing all alone under the rim. Caron slams it home. That’s a gritty basket.
4:50: Morrow misses an open spot up off a good screen. Bad perimeter defense by the Clips. Blake takes advantage of the long rebound and goes all the way to the other end himself, scooping up a layup and easily absorbing Anthony Morrow’s attempt at bear hug foul in the process. He misses the free throw.
4:30: Williams, guarded hard by Foye again, tries to drive the lane but can’t with the strong help D by Caron. DWill goes for an ill-advised (on all levels) chest pass to Stevenson, which Caron is able to tap towards halfcourt. Off to the races and Caron gets another breakaway hoop. Timeout New Jersey.
4:10: Johan Petro is forced to awkwardly travel by DeAndre. DJ stepped out and played strong perimeter D when Petro wasn’t expecting it. Clippers ball. Randy Foye playing the point dribbles around near the top of the key until Caron steps out for an open 18-footer on the left side. Foye dishes, Caron pulls the trigger.
3:45: Williams makes it to the basket but has to keep his dribble, lest he be smothered by DeAndre. DWill barely gets the ball to Morrow in the corner who tries to take it to the rim himself but meets the familiar 6-foot, 11-inch leaping obstacle. Morrow manages to dish it to an open Shawne Williams on the baseline. Airball. Randy brings the ball up the court and with the shot clock getting to single digits, delivers the ball to BG in a weak post-position. Blake manages to force his defender all the way down to the low block when the defense collapses. Blake makes a heady pass out to an open Caron on the perimeter, who drills the 3.
3:00: Just as Mike Smith announces to the world that the Nets really need a hoop from Deron Williams, the elite PG feels the moment and drives an open lane. DeAndre Jordan wasn’t watching the broadcast and decided he didn’t feel like letting DWill score. We were then treated to another one of DJ’s classic swats. After a crisp outlet pass from Ryan Gomes (yes, he did play a role in this offensive run), Randy decides that he should just let Caron keep doing what he’s doing. Randy gets the ball to an open Caron behind the 3-point line. Another transition basket. New Jersey timeout.
STATS DURING THE RUN:
Misc. Forced TO: 2 (DeAndre Jordan)
Looking at the stats, the field goal percentage isn’t the only number that stands out. The ability to shoot this well from the field was facilitated by the intense play on the defensive end. The defensive pressure led to some very easy baskets as well as opening up mid and long range opportunities when the defense overplayed the transition game. Due to Caron’s ability to hit open spot-up jumpers, he benefited immensely from the quickened pace off of turnovers and swift possession changes, going 5-for-5 during this stretch.
Every guy on the court was trying to make an impact on both the offensive and defensive end. I’m most impressed with the plucky play of Randy Foye against Deron Williams and his unselfish play at the Point when Chauncey was given some rest. DJ and Blake also deserve a lot of credit for really taking it upon themselves to wrestle control of the paint on defense and prevent easy baskets.
If the Clippers could have sustained this level of intensity throughout the game, it would have been a cakewalk, but the aggression fell off. It was this type of defense-into-offense that kept the Clippers in the game against the fastbreaking Heat, while also giving the Clippers the clear the edge against the aging legs of the Lakers. When we’re playing a deeper, more talented opponent than the Nets, the Clippers need to have this high level of intensity turned on the entire game, regardless of whether the league’s best point guard is on the floor.