ClipperBlog contributor Michael Shagrin answers three questions from last night.
Q: What really happened at the end of the 4th Quarter?
Chauncey Billups brings me to hell and back. So he made the final shot of the game in the last second and confirmed his role as “Mr. Big Shot.” What about his play during the prior 55 seconds of the game’s final minute? He turns the ball over. He takes a bad shot. He turns the ball over again. What was going on with him? These issues could be a product of a few things:
a. Chauncey is not trustworthy with the ball in late game situations? No.
b. Chauncey is used to Chris Paul running the offense in late game situations? Maybe.
c. Chauncey has yet to be informed of an offensive system for late game situations? Likely.
With 40 seconds left, the Clippers had the ball and a five-point lead. Usually this is when the Clippers give the ball to Chris Paul and he darts around the halfcourt before either stepping back for a midrange jumper or snaking his way to a layup. Why would the Clippers have an offensive scheme applicable to late-game scenarios? Chris Paul is on the team. That’s your scheme.
With Paul cringing on the bench through what felt like hours of referee’s reviews, Jason Terry hit consecutive threes, giving the Mavericks an 89-88 lead with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Then Mr. Big Shot arrived. After inbounding it to Blake Griffin, Chauncey found an opening behind Blake’s screen and drilled the triple. It was a nicely designed play. It almost looked like Rick Adelman’s Bibby/Webber special from the 2002 Western Conference Finals against the Lakers. Kudos to Del Negro.
Q: Does Vinny Del Negro really deserve kudos?
Well, no. I guess I’m going to need that kudos back. Del Negro did an atrocious job of preparing his team defensively on the play directly preceding Chauncey’s vindication. The Clippers defense was baffled by the dynamics of a basic screen, which Hubie Brown mentioned the need to prepare for during the broadcast. When Jason Terry came off a screen, DeAndre Jordan showed, but didn’t stay on him, leaving Terry wide open. This is a communication breakdown because DeAndre’s duty in a pick-and-roll should be abundantly clear to him.
The other coaching error on this play was the lack of a defensive substitute for Mo Williams. While his offensive contributions were extraordinary, he is unequivocally a defensive liability. Not to take him out with all that time to think about it during the review was puzzling. What was more puzzling was his defensive assignment in Jason Terry. You know, the guy who drilled a 3 to give Dallas the lead.
Q: What fueled DeAndre Jordan’s big night?
Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood are both old and slow. Dirk is actually having problems bending his knee (you think he knows any German doctors?) In fact, they seem like an inverted image of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. You know how Blake and DeAndre always get dominated in the paint by hardworking, smart bigs? The Mavericks have a similar problem with fast, athletic bigs.
Initially, their defensive sets focused on doubling Blake when he got into the low post, which the young man parlayed into seven assists. But when Mo Williams decided to go all Human Torch in the first quarter, Carlisle had to reposition his bigs up closer to the free throw line. Last night proved that when DeAndre has a path to slip under the basket and the distributors around him recognize it, we will be consistently reminded of why the Lob City was thrust upon this team. Jordan dropped 19 points on 9-13 from the field (or I should say, paint—from where all 13 of his shots came). He also pulled in six offensive rebounds, helping overcome the second-chance point deficit that plagued the Clippers in the first half.
I think this could end up being a big game for DeAndre mentally because he experienced a certain type of defense that just can’t stop him. It should remind him not to be discouraged if a crowded lane hinders his offensive production. On those nights, he should earn his keep on the defensive end like he did against the Heat. If this team wants to go deep in the playoffs, the Clippers are going to consistently need performances like those from DeAndre Jordan and Mo Williams.