After three close quarters, it looked like the Clippers’ starters were in for a long afternoon. Enter: #ATribeCalledBench, who took a 2-point lead and ballooned it out to an 18-point victory. Point God and Co. never had to set foot on the court again. Well, except that the bench is on the court… you know what I mean! To Last Call!
Recap | Box score
No Daily Dime tonight. But just to confirm one can’t overthrow an alley-oop to Blake Griffin, take a look at the 1:17 mark of the highlights:
Tweet of the Game
Chauncey. RT @beckleymason: Brown has 19 points, but it’s not like LAC has some hyper-athletic defensive ace just sitting on the bench.
— Andrew Han (@andrewthehan) December 8, 2012
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
ClipperBlogLive’s Best Moment
In a punch-drunk (or is it drunk on punch?) episode of ClipperBlog Live, Kevin Arnovitz photo bombs Jordan at Staples. And Charlie ponders if there’s a #FreeJovanAndFred movement in a subsect of the Internet.
Check Your Messages
So Easy, I Can Do It in My Sleep
Clipper games this season have tended to fall into one of three categories: Globetrotter-like romp; uneven but hardfought; and “Gee, I hope they wake up soon.” With a 12:30p start against middling competition in front of a sedate, and late arriving crowd, it wasn’t a question of whether we’d see some uninspired ball, only how long it would last.
It lasted a while. For three quarters, the Clippers seemed to play hard only in spurts, just long enough to keep the Suns at bay. Look at a Suns’ shot chart and you can see the evidence of the Clips’ ambivalent D: those mid-range jumpers weren’t contested, low-efficiency shots, but frequently open looks.
And, in the end, the reserves flattened the Suns in the 4th, the Clips cruised to victory, and we gleaned nothing of importance. Because that’s what happens with good teams. The Clippers were better than the Suns today, better at basically every position, and seemed content to keep the game close, and wait for their talent to catch up. It may not be the ideal approach, but as long as the team continues to win, it’s hard to complain.
- Jordan Heimer
Sealed for Freshness
When the Clippers’ second unit is getting its takeaways, it can play with anyone. The Clips led 85-83 after three quarters in a game that was close all the way through. Yet, the starters didn’t even have to play in a fourth quarter in which the Clippers would outscore the Suns by a gaping 32-16 score.
Keeping the starting unit as fresh as possible for the second game in a back-to-back (the Clippers play Toronto on Sunday at 12:30 PST) is something that seems sustainable for the rest of the season for a team that has a bench capable of playing so potently. Meanwhile, the Clippers should be plenty bouncy coming off a game in which Chris Paul led all starters with just 30 minutes played.
- Fred Katz
Oh boy, is it fun watching Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford firing on all cylinders. Vinny the Motivator clearly worked his magic between the third and fourth quarters, with the bench squad absolutely annihilating their Phoenix counterparts in the final frame. When Bledsoe and Crawford are play together effectively, they bring such contrasting modes of attack that the opposing defense has to constantly shift their containment strategy based on who’s initiating the offense. While Crawford has a tendency to create space for himself on the perimeter, Bledsoe has an uncanny knack for blasting through the lane and either finishing at the rim or kicking it out. With both playmakers scorching during the fourth, all Alvin Gentry could do was helplessly watch his team get carved up.
- Michael Shagrin
One more night, Give me just one more night
We have come to accept this notion of the designated” inferior player from inferior opponent that kills the Clippers for a game,” but inherent in that idea is that this is some sort of random, unexplainable occurrence. It’s not.
The Clippers trot out a starting unit that includes three players who are among the best at their positions — two of whom might be the very best, and one who is’t as far from that distinction as one might think. But they also start a small forward and a shooting guard who, on most nights, might be buried on the bench of a championship team if playing time were doled out solely on the basis of merit. This is especially the case on the defensive end, where the first reinforcement off the bench is usually the woeful defender, Jamal Crawford.
The result? Shannon Brown (11.9 season average, 19 points today), Michael Beasley (every time he plays the Clippers), Dion Waiters, Mo Williams, Marcus Thornton, Greivis Vasquez: All-Stars for a night.
- Charlie Widdoes
Hope is not a strategy – unless you’re defending Jamal Crawford
Guarding Jamal Crawford when he gets hot has to be a horrifying experience. He’s one of the few players in the league who is always a threat to embarrass you (see Nando De Colo, nutmeg), so you have to give him space and respect no matter how poorly he’s playing or shooting and just sort of hope he keeps missing. After Crawford’s 7-0 solo run to start the fourth quarter, which included an impossible circus layup, you could feel the frustration level of the Suns and the energy level of the Clippers simultaneously rise, and that was the end of that.
- D.J. Foster
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends
The Clippers’ defense against the initial action appears to be pretty solid, but I noticed some minor quirks to the Clippers’ starting perimeter defense today. And as Willie Green and Caron Butler are the starting wings, a lot of the burden falls on them. It’s not really anything major that they’re doing wrong, but just some minor things: not consistently fighting through screens, slightly over-rotating on the weakside, being a fraction late in recovering on the kickout.
None of it happens on a consistent basis, but it happens just enough to throw off the Clippers’ defense on the ancillary actions. If they can make the tweaks and adjustments necessary, it seems like LA’s already decent defense can become that much more stout. Keep an eye on the wing defenders not on the first action, but when teams are trying to get to third or fourth action.
- Andrew Han
An 18-point drubbing is always great, but the Clippers are developing some bad habits against subpar teams. Michael Beasley and Shannon Brown shouldn’t have gone off for a combined 40 points — that’s completely on the Clippers’ wing defenders. In general, the Clippers seem to be relying on their bench a little too much and the starters seem disinterested in playing solid and consistent defense. The bench can’t always be relied on so heavily to change a game, especially against good/elite teams; we saw that on the road in Brooklyn and Atlanta. L.A. needs a more consistent tone on defense and enjoy their bench like the luxury it is.
- Jovan Buha
Off With Head
Goran Dragic is having a fine season. He’s scoring well (over 15 a game), he’s taking care of the ball, and he’s shooting it with good percentages. But just like big men should fear Griffin and Jordan dunking on/through/over them, opposing point guards should be very weary of the type of ball pressure Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe provide for 48 minutes a game. Dragic and Sebastian Telfair were forced into a combined 2-for-11 game with 5 turnovers, which eventually caught up with the Suns once the rest of the Clippers team put the clamps on and stopped allowing so many open jumpers.
We talk about sustainability a lot, but pressuring the ballhandler and cutting off the head of an offense is something the Clippers do just about every night. According to 82games.com, opposing point guards this year have put up a paltry 8.2 PER (15 is average) and shot just 40 percent from the field against Clippers point guards. Remember that when it comes time for the Clippers to go against one of the big point guards out West in the playoffs.
- D.J. Foster