Consecutive back-to-back road wins are tough for most teams, but when you have an A Team (pity the fool that steps to DeAndre Jordan, pity him) and a B Team (A Tribe Called Bench, Chip Clip, Merchants of Chaos, or whatever), it’s almost like the burden isn’t quite as heavy. Gather around the warmth of the winning streak — it’s Last Call.
Recap | Box score
MVP: Matt Barnes. Score one for the old crusty guys. Barnes was one of the lesser athletes on the floor at all times, but his ability to leak out and find open spaces led to an 11-point fourth quarter that iced the game.
X Factor: Eric Bledsoe. Wow. In the fourth quarter, Bledsoe swung and missed on a blocked shot, but jumped so high that he ended up blocking it with his face. There isn’t a more productive player in the league who plays fewer minutes.
That was… a measuring stick game: Maybe not for the Bobcats as a whole, but certainly for Kemba Walker. Against the league’s best point guard, Walker acquitted himself nicely and displayed some tantalizing speed.
–D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog
8 wins a row
This ties the Clippers longest winning streak since 1991-92, when Danny Manning and company rattled off eight consecutive wins. Coincidentally enough, Charlotte started that 91-92 team on their win streak, and the Clippers reached their eighth win on December 15th. All this after I discovered today that Eric Bledsoe is actually Randy Smith reincarnated. History is crazy, man.
Tweet of the Game
This game is a doritos loco taco. It makes no sense, you don’t know what you’re ingesting and you don’t care how it tastes.
— Ben Swanson (@CardboardGerald) December 13, 2012
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
So, Eric Bledsoe blocked a shot with his face tonight. His face. Literally, his face. He jumped so high that his face blocked a shot. Here’s video evidence, courtesy of our friends at Clippers.com:
ClipperBlogLive’s Best Moment
On tonight’s ClipperBlog Live, Dan Woike of the Orange County Register joins us to display a pretty sweet 3-point dance — which just happens to be right up the alley of resident 3-point bomber Charlie Widdoes.
Check Your Messages
Emerging from the Darkest Timeline
I’m kind of at a loss for words in regards to the Clippers these days. By no means are things perfect for L.A. For example, they struggled for stretches to put away a less-talented Bobcats team tonight. But the team competed hard on the second night of a back-to-back, the fourth game in five days, after arriving at 3:45a ET and losing an hour traveling from Chicago.
On tonight’s ClipperBlog Live, we pondered just how long an already franchise-tying win streak could extend: 9 games? 12 games? 18 games? (off-the-record: Dan Woike, pre-show, said he would not be surprised if the Clippers put together another long win streak later in the season) It doesn’t sound insane, it’s not laughable. A season of the Clippers cobbling together several multi-game win streaks sounds, frankly, boring. Hum-drum. Expected.
And if you feel the same way, then you also feel like Clippers fans are emerging from the darkest timeline. Blake Griffin brought highlights and Chris Paul. Paul brought winning. Winning brought veterans and vets brought credibility. The “other” Los Angeles is embroiled in coaching controversy, constant questions of ownership incompetence and a team crumbling under the stress of expectations.
So take off your felt goatee (or print it out, put it on and then take it off) and pass it to your friend on the other side of the city. They might need it, but you won’t.
– Andrew Han
Pound the Paint
The Clippers are no strangers to scoring in the paint, averaging 47 points per game there, which ranks second behind the Denver Nuggets. But L.A. made it a point to go inside often and early, as 17 of their 21 field goals (34 points) in the first half came in the paint. They finished with 50 points in the paint, an already remarkable number that could’ve been much higher had the Clippers not missed so many close shots at the rim. Most important, Griffin continued his recent offensive resurgence with a slew of highlight dunks.
– From Jovan Buha, at ESPNLA.com
Lamar Odom: Sweaty Dude
I’m encouraged by Lamar Odom’s play of late, mainly because he is very, very sweaty. Let me explain…no, there is no time. Let me sum up. When you’re out of shape, it’s hard to work up a really great sweat. You’re catching your breath too often, you’re standing around too much, and you’re usually quitting pretty quickly. The last couple of weeks, and don’t say that I don’t go deep with my analysis, Odom has been sweating more and more. He’s glistening out there, guys, and it’s a great sign that he can be dripping sweat like Patrick Ewing after his first few minutes on the court.
The shinier the Odom, the better. In the process of getting in better shape, Odom is getting his lift back where it matters most — on the defensive end. The jump shot will be the last thing to come, but the beauty of this team and this scenario for Odom is that it’s alright if it never actually does. As much as he’s getting cajoled to shoot it, Odom is doing right by his teammates to simply swing the ball when he’s away from the paint. As we discussed on ClipperBlog Live, Odom is still being treated by defenses like a “stretch four” and not the .091 percent 3-point shooter he is, so if the threat of the shot is being respected, the battle is already won without any backboards as casualties.
The peak version of Odom does have a prominent role on this team — he’s probably the best pick-and-roll defender on the squad (watch him trap ballhandlers, it’s beautiful) and the second best defensive rebounder. Odom’s 24% defensive rebound percentage right now is already superb, especially considering he just started, ya know, getting his feet off the floor about a week ago.
It’s hard to express just how bad Odom was to start the season. He needs to continue to get in shape, but there’s no need to sweat the technique — Odom has the chops to fill his role just fine.
– D.J. Foster
Cats on the come
I found myself agreeing with Mike Smith after the game when he said that road games are for picking up Ws, not necessarily dissecting “how they played,” like we might when they are at home and expectations are elevated. (Then he went on to talk about such opportunities to “build character,” and I just wished he’d settle down.)
But his initial point rang especially true tonight against a Bobcats team that continues to impress with the subtle ways they are improving. They are building — slowly — which is really the only way to do it when you are truly terrible, like they were last year and have been for a few before it.
All of a sudden, they have direction. Questionable picks Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo look like building blocks. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is living up to his reputation as someone who just plays hard and makes things happen. Byron Mullens’ stroke looks great, even if it’s pretty hilarious that he takes almost five 3s a game despite shooting less than 30 percent. (Side note: isn’t he the exact type of guy that we always say the Clippers could use off the bench?)
They lack a superstar, but have assembled some really nice pieces. And while we all agree it’s helpful to have stars, building a culture first while remaining in the lottery has its benefits, too. And in Mike Dunlap, a relative unknown himself, they seem to have found the perfect coach to steer them to respectability while they develop together. So, yeah, nice win on the road.
– Charlie Widdoes