The Clippers came into this game licking their wounds from a disappointing home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and having lost 6 of their last 7 meetings in Sacramento. It’s the sort of awkward note that could easily sabotage a bad team, and I guess I’ve become accustomed to thinking that would still submarine the team. But this team seems to have the real resiliency of a legitimate (if flawed) play-off contender, and this win was just another of gritty “will” type wins.
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– We have to start with Bobby Simmons who, after dishing to Blake for a beautiful jam, caught fire, making his first 4 shots and buoying the Clippers during a second quarter that could have rapidly devolved into “Jimmer Time.” Bobby finished with 5 for 8 shooting and 3 for 4 from behind the arc. Build on this, Bobby. Build on this.
– Blake Griffin had relatively pedestrian numbers (for him) tonight. 14 and 9, but what I saw was the quality and ease of the baskets that Blake got. One of which came from the aforementioned Bobby Simmons dish, but Chris Paul is starting to get that right handed bounce pass to an open off the left block Blake Griffin for easy dunks. And Jason Thompson has no business guarding Blake, there was a moment where I thought that Jason had tried to pull out the chair on Blake, but it was only Jason’s inability to deal with the strength of Blake. Can’t wait for the POTUS’ words to sink into his game.
– Vinny Del Negro’s rotations. I think VDN may be improving before our eyes. This would be the type of game that the Clippers’ starters would play 36-40 minutes before, but Vinny trusted the second unit (thank you, Bobby, Kenyon, Reggie and Mo), and carved out enough time so that Chris Paul was the starter with the most minutes (32), and CP3 would have played fewer minutes if it weren’t for Eric Bledsoe shockingly fouling out in 10 minutes of play. This is great planning, patience, and confidence for Vinny at the start of a crucial 6 game road trip, and an impossibly condensed March.
– I love Chris Paul. He’s so beautiful to watch. There were two plays in the fourth where he showed his brilliance. One came on a dribble drive from the left arc, and he raised the ball over the defender, slowed his step, jumped and turned off his left foot and nailed a 15 footer while drifting to his right. Gorgeous. And then there was the skip pass that found him open on the right wing, and he pump faked, drove to the basket and effortlessly avoided the charge while maintaining the body control necessary to knock down that little floater (Eric Bledsoe, please watch that move).