Well, hey. Guess who just lost to the third or so worst team in the NBA?
This was a very Clippers performance (for this year, I mean. We’re not doing more Cursed Franchise talk). Chris Paul started slow but finished very strong (4 first-half turnovers, if memory serves, and he finished the game with 5, had a big 4th, usual stuff), scoring, dishing, stealing, grabbing some boards. Good stuff, generally. And it isn’t like Deron Williams had an unbelievably great game. Chris Paul more or less played him to a standstill (although they didn’t do it quarter-for-quarter, but more or less traded off quarter-to-quarter). That’s good. So was Blake, who definitely looked more fired up than he did against the likes of Houston. Offensive and defensive rebounding, strong finishes, 17 free throw attempts (a couple of those were handed to him via the Grab-A-Griffin tactic, but whatever), excellent stuff. And then we had our usual One Role Player Who Does His Job For The Night. Randy Foye was the man tonight, scoring 24 points on 18 shots and hitting half of his 10 threes.
A problem — No one else, offensively, showed up. DeAndre barely showed up at all, in fact, managing 2 points, 2 fouls, and 2 rebounds in 18 minutes. This wasn’t like his limited-minutes performance against Houston where he was still productive. He sat until the late part of the 2nd quarter with 2 fouls, and didn’t offer much when he was on the floor then or for a stretch in the 3rd. Sigh. Also bad? Caron Butler. Again. 2 points, 1/6 from the field, 2 boards, 1 steal. Ineffective defense. Who was also bad on offense and defense, you ask? None other than Mo Williams. Shots didn’t go in, off-the-dribble or otherwise, and MarShon Brooks and Anthony Morrow and Jordan Farmar did around half of their damage with Mo being overpowered via off-ball screens or post-up action (although he gave good effort against everyone but Farmar, who he played far too lightly. Can’t just leave Farmar open).
Speaking of Farmar, he was the one that hit the game-winner. Getting beaten by the Nets is bad enough, but letting Jordan Farmar put the dagger through your heart? Double-whammy. Double-wackness-whammy. The Clippers went zone with the Nets inbounding to Deron Williams with 5 seconds to go (trailing 2, remember). Chris Paul slid over a bit to Randy Foye’s side to double on a possible Williams drive…and totally abandoned Farmar, who had inbounded. Paul tried to recover as Deron Williams swung the rock over to Farmar, but CP3 slipped. And there was no one left to help. Bang. The Clippers’ pride is dead. Jordan Farmar is the murderer. He was tried in the court of Why Did We Go Zone and found guilty of Having No Idea Why, But I’ll Take This Wide-Open Look, Thanks.
Honestly, zone in that situation could have worked well had Paul not fallen down. Getting the ball out of Deron Williams’s hands is definitely nice. The part about losing by giving up a wide-open 3 when going man-to-man would have at worst led to a foul and free throws or a too-easy drive just makes it harder to swallow. Zone…I don’t know.
Beyond that, we saw that the Clippers had match-up problems that were created by New Jersey’s scoring perimeter players and the Clippers’ tiny, terrible defensive guards (except Chris Paul, who is having his best individual defensive season in a few years, probably). We saw Chris Paul’s early turnovers helping to keep the Clippers in a hole going into the 2nd half. We saw inconsistent role player production on offense coupled with the fact that all of the role players whose job it is to make shots can’t defend well so they’re useless on nights when shots aren’t falling. We saw shockingly poor work on the glass by the Clippers against a poor rebounding team in the Nets. You get the expected board domination from the Clippers and maybe this is a win.
Bu the non-rebounding stuff makes up the same problems we’ve seen almost the entire season (and especially since Chauncey went down). Maddeningly frustrating, if you ask me.