Recap | Box score
No Dime tonight, so I wrote you guys a Haiku about the game instead:
The paint’s greatest wall
Is formed with the mind; not size
The blocks were mental
9 wins a row
A new Clippers record!!! But not a franchise record — that belongs to the Buffalo Braves with 11 wins. This is pretty dumb, right? Let’s not acknowledge Randy Smith or retire any numbers or claim any attachment to the Buffalo Braves whatsoever until it comes time to break something they own. Oh well.
Tweet of the Game
— DeAndre Jordan (@deandrejordan) December 16, 2012
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
Obligatory video of Blake Griffin dunking things
More like Ersan IlyaSLOWva, amiright? Hey, where are you guys going?
ClipperBlogLive’s Best Moment
On tonight’s ClipperBlog Live, recent college graduate Fred Katz uses his facetime to solicit employers, which is something I should have thought of years ago. Jordan Heimer has praise for *scrambles through notes*…Vinny Del Negro? That can’t be right.
Check Your Messages
Extended Metaphor Alert!
One of the very few things I still remember from Mr. Chiapetta’s freshman year English class is Hemingway’s depiction of the highly ritualized bull-fight in “The Sun Also Rises.”
The bull dies in stages. First, the matadors enter the arena, salute the crowd, and after an initial, largely bloodless, pass with the bull, retire to a safe distance. Picadors on padded horses stab the bull with lances, followed by the banderillas, who poke needle-like flags into the bull’s neck. It’s a messy business, and probably not entirely fair, but it’s effective. By the time the matador returns to finish the job, the bull is weak from blood-loss, and nearly exhausted.
Tonight, Vinny Del Negro unleashed the Corrida Rotations. In almost every prior game, Del Negro has played Chris Paul the entire first quarter. Tonight, Vinny brought the entire bench crew, Bledsoe and all, into the game with 3 minutes left in the first.
At first, it looked like the bench wasn’t going to reward Vinny’s gambit. They started sloppy and mistake prone. Bledsoe was in “bad Bledsoe” mode, over-penetrating and forcing the action.
But Vinny stayed with them. This is worth lingering on. We sometimes criticize Vinny as an intransigent, unwilling to adjust traditionalist ideals. And I’ve felt that he’s sometimes been overly quick to pull a young player, Bledsoe and DJ in particular, after a mistake or two.
Tonight, his decisions didn’t reflect any of that. He stayed with the bench 12 long minutes, well past the time when the starters usually return. Best of all, he was rewarded. Bledsoe settled down, Barnes and Odom continued to make great decisions off the ball, and Jamal Crawford compensated for another poor shooting night with 5 key assists.
By the time the starters finally came back with just over 3 minutes to play in the half, “A Tribe Called Bench” was exhausted (when was the last time you saw Eric Bledsoe grabbing his shorts?). But the Bucks were straight tenderized. This is an incredibly effective way to leverage the energy of the second unit: give them significant run in the first half, challenge the opposition to keep up, and then run out rested starters in the second half.
“Once you display a skill, you own it.” Jonah Keri recently referenced this Ron Shandler idea as part of his analysis of the Zach Greinke signing. Tonight, Vinny flashed an inventiveness and willingness to tinker with his rotations. Now he owns that skill – I hope we see it again.
- Jordan Heimer
I’m sure Kobe assists are tempting, but…
Jamal Crawford’s career assist average is 3.8 per game. The number is understandably down this season (2.2 ast/gm) given his efficiency explosion at the beginning of the season. The endless run of smooth J’s inevitably stopped, but Crawford nonetheless deserves credit for quashing the temptation to shoot his way out of these down days. Over the last three games he noticeably struggled to find his off the dribble rhythm, so he’s taken advantage of the strong off ball cutting of the Clippers second platoon–he’s dished out five, eight, and five assists, respectively. He’s averaged only 8 FG attempts per game, well below his season and career average, around 13 per game.
The chutzpah of Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe alone could only sustain the identity of the second unit for so long. With the emergence of Matt Barnes as a legitimate threat to score at any moment and Lamar Odom’s return to relevance, the bench platoon has creatively incorporated its versatility.
- Michael Shagrin
Less replacement, more understudy
Everyone seems to be picking up the garbage. Caron Butler and Jamal Crawford have below-average games and Matt Barnes shoots 8-for-10 from the field. Lamar Odom says, “no problem” and has arguably his best game of the season, dropping 10 points for the first time all year and doubling his three-pointers made total on the season.
Last year’s team, while still deep in its own ways, didn’t always have players who were going to step up if one of the usual contributors wasn’t playing up to his own standards. If Blake Griffin had a bad game, Reggie Evans could still be Reggie Evans, but he wasn’t going to replace Griffin’s offense by any means. When Chauncey Billups went down for the season, the best answer to “What are we going to do without Chauncey??” was “Let’s get Nick Young!” But this year, when someone like Crawford has a 2-for-6 night, there are so many other options.
It’s not just about depth. It’s about cohesion and it’s pretty clear that this team has it. The Clippers can replace whatever they might lose on any given night and that is something that maybe no other team in the NBA can do as well as them.
- Fred Katz
Statistics à Trois
31 fast break points (+23).
66 points in the paint (+38).
44 made field goals on 33 assists (75% assisted, league average is 58.82%).
97 points on just fast break and points in the paint. This is the second time this season the Clippers have notched 90+ points in these two categories combined (vs. Mavs, the Clippers scored 91 points).
- Andrew Han
A real life glue guy?
Back in the old ClipperBlog days, down at the bottom of the site we had something called a word cloud. Or tag cloud. It was a cloud something. Anyway, it basically showed which names or terms we were using most often on the blog. Trying my damndest to emulate Kevin Arnovitz (and failing miserably in the process), I’d throw the ol’ PUJIT as much as I possibly could, but I’d also talk a lot about glue guys. If you’ve been here for a while, you probably remember those discussions spanning over about three years time.
It’s funny. Matt Barnes kind of snuck up on us a little bit, didn’t he?
According to 82games.com, Barnes is second in the team in net on/off rating (+6.6 points per 100 possessions) and he’s part of the team’s most productive lineup (Paul-Crawford-Barnes-Griffin-Jordan) that sports a ridiculous 131.7 offensive rating. To put that astronomical number in perspective, the top offense in the league (Oklahoma City) has a 111.3 rating. If there’s one common theme in the Clippers’ best lineups this season, it’s that Barnes is holding things together at small forward with his defense and ability to get easy buckets off the ball.
This offseason the Clippers raised their collective ceiling with the acquisitions of Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom. While that higher ceiling is welcomed for when the Thunder and Spurs come knocking in the playoffs, it’s Barnes who has raised the floor during the regular season. You know, for the games like a road tilt in Milwaukee on a Saturday in December. Barnes scored a game-high 21 points, a number you wouldn’t expect to be replicated often, but note that every field goal but one was a layup. Barnes isn’t doing what he’s doing with luck of the iron — not at all. If Jamal Crawford’s the poster boy for the hot hand, Barnes has been the same for sustainability.
The Clippers have plenty of guys on the roster that can “go off” at anytime, but Barnes is one of the few, by his own design, who can always be on. After years of searching, I’m going to call off the manhunt now: Matt Barnes is the glue guy we’ve been searching for.
- D.J. Foster