After being down as much as 18, the Clippers stormed back and beat the Blazers in Portland, 74-71. This game was so confusing and unexpected that we had to bring in a fourth to run a 4-on-3 on these questions. Your contributors tonight: Nick Flynt, Jovan Buha, Jordan Heimer and Michael Shagrin.
1. What was the key to the Clippers big comeback?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Paul, Chris. As the saying goes, “he put the team on his back.” Scoreless through three quarters — with one measly assist — he went off for 13 points and 2 assists (an improvement!) in the fourth. More importantly, he made great decision after great decision, chipped away at the lead, and sealed it as another CP3 clutch performance.
Nick Flynt, ClipperBlog: Jamal Crawford and Ray Felton. They went iso down the stretch and it saved the Clippers from having to guard Nic Batum down the stretch. Add in some missed free throws and timely guard production and we have a win.
Michael Shagrin, ClipperBlog: Defense. But the real story was Blake Griffin putting the team on his back during the first three quarters. He had almost half of the team’s points during that space.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: Chris Paul and the defensive toughness. Paul – who scored 13 high degree if difficulty fourth quarter points after a putrid first three – is the obvious answer. But without another energetic effort from the Martin-Evans reserves he doesn’t have a chance for heroics.
2. Was this the best defensive performance for the Clippers this season?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Off the top of my head, yes. They’ve had some impressive defensive efforts (key word, some) but this one may take the cake. They only allowed 71 points total and clamped down in the second half (allowed 28 points). Safe to say, this has a lot to do with Kenyon Martin and the presence he brings.
Nick Flynt, ClipperBlog: Although this answer is tempered by the fact that LaMarcus Aldridge was still out for Portland, yes. Outside of bad defensive off-screens from Caron Butler (covering Batum), and some tough contested isolation makes from Jamal Crawford, the Clippers looked excellent on D.
Michael Shagrin, ClipperBlog: It very well may have been. Though LaMarcus Aldridge was injured and Ray Felton barely was as good as absent, the Clippers made an astounding number of stops when they needed to offset their lack of offensive production. The Blazers scored only 28 points in entire the second half, only a point more than they put up during the first quarter.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: Yes. And the biggest thing I’d point to isn’t the x and o stuff, like the second half adjustments against Batum, or the toughness Martin continues to bring. Tough defense is mental. You have to want it. It would have been easy to pack it in down 18 and blame this one on the schedule – instead the clippers locked down and snatched victory from the jaws of apathy.
3. In 40 words or less, describe your inner-most thoughts during the comeback.
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: “There’s no way they can come back… Wait, what?… No, no, YES!… Never doubt Chris Paul… No, they’re going to blow this… I can’t believe that just happened… Chris Paul for President.”
Nick Flynt, ClipperBlog: Hm. This makes sense. CP3 can’t miss all night and Portland is leaning on Jamal Crawford. SHOOT IT JAMAL! KEEP SHOOTING IT!”
Michael Shagrin, ClipperBlog: Why is Mo Williams guarding Jamal Crawford? Seriously, why is Mo Williams guarding Jamal Crawford? Chris, don’t pass it to Mooooo–PUJIT! Chris Paul can’t do it. Yes he can. Wow.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: It’s ok. Portland is tough in Portland. Chris Paul’s allowed an off night. 18-10 is still great! Wait, we’re down what? No, Mo find a better sho — bingo! Resign Kenyon Martin!