1.1. Tonight’s defensive issues — Usual Clippers lackluster D, or something different?
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: The usual with worse luck. The usual is that the Clippers do not close well, particularly on taller shooters, basically ever. That’s just one of the team’s limitations. But it’s luck that turned this game so ugly. Derrick Williams was 9 of 10 and he and Michael Beasley made all 7 of their combined threes. That won’t happen often, no matter how open those guys are.
Nick Flynt, ClipperBlog: Defense is the Clippers’ biggest weakness by far. Transition, spot-up, perimeter isolations, you name it, the Clippers are bad at defending it. But tonight, Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams hit some shots that you won’t normally see hit. So many of their makes were contested (Derrick Williams is a 25% 3-point shooter on the season as it is, although he hit well from range in college), and I can’t even go to my usual defensive scapegoat Caron Butler, because he got out and challenged pretty much everything that came his way.
Michael Shagrin, ClipperBlog: Through the first three quarters, the defense wasn’t all that distinguishable from the ordinary Clippers defense, but that changed when the fourth quarter came around. Since Blake Griffin and Chris Paul followed through on their offensive efforts, they were probably more tired than usual in the fourth after their packed All-Star Weekend.
2. Bobby Simmons played 17 minutes tonight and managed 4 fouls, a turnover, 3 boards and an assist. On a scale of Brian Cook to Chris Paul, where would you rate our newest addition’s performance?
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: On a scale of Cook to Paul, Simmons was Gomes with better associations. The warm ovation when Simmons first checked in was the highlight of his night. But with Gomes so ineffective, Simmons will get the minutes to prove this was just jitters.
Nick Flynt, ClipperBlog: I would give Bobby Simmons a Ryan Gomes on that scale. He disappeared for long stretches into the corner without actually forcing the Wolves to guard him, did the best he could on defense, and grabbed a few boards. It was bad, but it wasn’t unbearable.
Michael Shagrin, ClipperBlog: Somewhere between Ryan Gomes and Reggie Evans. I noticed him out there, which I can hardly say for Gomes, but he didn’t make any noticeably positive plays, like the treat of a Reggie Evans offensive board.
3. What could the Clippers have done differently tonight to at least make this a close finish?
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: Short of passing a Staples Center bylaw that forces teams to play their starters down the stretch? The T-Wolf bench absolutely destroyed the Clips. Not only did Williams and Beasley both go for 27, but Darko – yes, that Darko – essentially shut down Blake while the game got away.
Nick Flynt, ClipperBlog: Offensively, not much. Mo, Caron, and Foye had good looks that didn’t fall. Otherwise, I received some suggestions from Twitter that were interesting, including one from @posidrew, who mentioned going Super Sized with CP3 at the PG spot along with Kenyon, Blake, Reggie, and DJ taking up the rest of the floor. The idea, of course, being that CP3 was the only one who could create on offense late anyway, so why not just go all-out and live and die by your offensive rebounding and the Timberwolves’ 3-point shooting. Unfortunately, we saw the T-Wolves (normally a poor 3-point shooting team) hit all manner of contested 3-pointers tonight.
Michael Shagrin, ClipperBlog: I would say guard Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley more tightly, but they each had a freak night. Derrick Williams was straight fire coming out of his double ASW performance and the nonstop trade rumors turned Michael “I’ll shoot when I want” Beasley into Michael “the ball is already in the air” Beasley.