Two weeks ago, the Clippers ran the Wizards off the D.C. floor. Last night, the Wizards played in Portland. So you’d think that the Clippers, returned home from a long road trip, would put the Wizards away quickly, right?
That 18 point win might fool you, but for the majority of this game, the Wizards were in this one.
Maybe you want to point to the improved play of the Wizards of late. Maybe you want to single out John Wall. Wall struggled from the field, but his speed and vision allowed for him to score 18 points on 4 for 13 shooting, and hand out 12 assists. JaVale McGee came out strong (scoring 18 on 7 for 10 shooting), before fading late in the game.
But judging from the energy of the team, the schedule, and the situation, I’d say this was more of a purgatory game.
The Clippers looked pretty sluggish right from the start. After playing an intense six game road trip, the Clippers had to bring their energy to face the Wizards. I know that there’s a certain expectation of professionalism, but let’s not mix this up with roboticism. Even the 72-win Bulls lost to the Damon Stoudemire led Toronto Raptors (who finished 21-61). There are really great teams, but there are no perfect teams.
Perfection is more of a perennial goal. Which makes this preoccupation with J.R. Smith sort of perplexing. I do think this J.R. obsession is tied into the play of the Clippers. In some mental way, it has to affect the play of Mo Williams and Randy Foye. Yeah, Randy Foye clearly isn’t the future at the shooting guard position. And Mo’s been playing poorly, so it’s not like he’s going to slot up naturally at 2, either. But do the Clippers need another scorer who plays matador defense? The Clippers are fourth in offensive efficiency, and 23rd in defensive efficiency. When you watched this Clippers-Wizards game, were you thinking the Clips needed another chucker, or did you want someone to turn up the intensity on defense like Kenyon did? Regardless, the conclusion of the J.R. Smith arms race should put to rest the 2 guard situation with the Clips, whether he joins or not.
The good news is that even in this purgatory game, the Clippers still stepped up in the fourth quarter and won a game that they were supposed to win. That’s a huge difference between this year and last year. Even in a disappointing showing, the Clippers still have the talent and the determination to grind out the crappy wins necessary to be a great team.
– As underwhelming as the game was from a competitiveness standpoint, the dunks were amazing. Blake had a couple two handed jams, and DeAndre got UP for one of his, but the best dunk of the night might be JaVale McGee’s reverse alley-oop jam off an awful John Wall pass.
– The Clippers missed so many layups tonight. I don’t know whether that was from being tired, or if the few missed in the beginning got in their head, but it’s a trend I’m hoping doesn’t continue.
– I don’t get Eric Bledsoe. He had some mystery knee-ailment, then he was supposed to be back, then he came back and played awesome in the D-League. But when he returns to the Clippers, even after the Billups injury, he barely gets much playing time, and when he does, Bledsoe looks tentative. I’m used to him playing out of control, not overcontrolled. Maybe he needs a haircut.