After Thursday night’s blowout over the Celtics, Chris Paul said that he has sat more fourth quarters this year than he had in his entire career coming into this season. Time to put Cliff Paul in the game. I wonder what Chris’ son’s thoughts are on that. (Courtesy of @jose3030 on Twitter)
Recap | Box score
MVP: Matt Barnes – The reserve small forward was the beneficiary of countless open looks and took advantage of them, hitting a season-high five 3-pointers. Barnes finished with an incredibly efficient 21 points in just 23 minutes of action.
X-Factor: Turnovers – The Celtics got sloppy with the ball (18 turnovers) and the Clippers made them pay, scoring 26 points off their miscues as they punished Boston repeatedly with their athleticism edge in transition.
That was … easy: The Clippers cruised to their 15th straight win, opening up a double-digit lead in the opening minutes and never looked back. The Celtics had no answer for the Clippers precise (8 turnovers) and unselfish (31 assists) scoring attack.
– Brian Robb, CelticsHub
15 wins a row
The Clippers are drunk on wins and are streaking like Frank Ricard through the streets of California.
Tweet of the Game
— Ronny Turiaf (@Ronny_Turiaf) December 28, 2012
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
The Clippers and Celtics actually played exactly three years ago, on December 27, 2009. This one was a little easier, but the one from ‘09 provided us with one of the more awkward hugs of Steve Novak’s life:
So Jamal Doesn’t Actually Need To See the Rim:
Who Knew DeAndre Jordan Could Dunk, Right?
Check Your Messages
Serious question: Who is the Clippers’ true sixth man?
Is it Jamal Crawford? You’d think so, right? He gets the most minutes off the bench. He leads the NBA in points off the bench. He creates, breaks ankles, and gets on SportsCenter.
But if it’s not Crawford, does that mean it’s Eric Bledsoe? Bledsoe is explosive, athletic, and stifling with his defense.
In reality though, it might be Matt Barnes.
The Clippers have improved to 16-0 when Barnes scores 10-plus points off the bench, but it’s not just the scoring. It’s the efficiency. Check out his December numbers: 55.6 percent from the field, 43.1 percent from three. Meanwhile, the Clippers are only two games away from sweeping the entire month. Nope, no typo there. The entire month. That’s impressive for an NFL team.
Then there’s the defense.
This is a bench that had six of the top eight players in the NBA (20 games played or more) in defensive efficiency coming into the Celtics game. Six of the top eight! All off the bench!
Granted, that is a team stat, one that is more accurate when evaluating groups than individuals, but in a way, seeing all those players at the top of the league is a perfect mode to show how remarkable this collection has been. And Barnes has helped accomplish that on both ends of the floor.
So following a 5-for-9 performance from three, his second straight 20-point game, Matt Barnes should just keep Barnes storming. He’s leading a unit that right now is unparalleled.
- Fred Katz
The Fraternity of the Human Race
A brief programming interruption from the juggernaut known as the Los Angeles Clippers, who are destroying opponents like Godzilla wrecking Tokyo.
During halftime, Ronny Turiaf and Jeff Green spent several minutes at halfcourt casually chatting. Players do this all the time; pregame, at halftime, after the game. With as much player movement as there is in the NBA, it’s not uncommon to have friends around the league.
A brief observation of the situation would suggest Turiaf and Green’s conversation went deeper than just chit chat. Ronny would motion towards his chest. Jeff would tug at the collar of his warmup shirt. It is instantly apparent that this was a relationship forged in the furnace of hardship.
At the start of last season, Jeff Green was diagnosed with a heart condition that required season ending surgery. Heart surgery is scary enough for anyone, but a professional athlete whose primary commodity is their body? It’s downright frightful. Turiaf had gone through something similar early in his career and instantly sought out ways to contact Green and guide him through the arduous process; a steadying influence that has gone through the journey, especially in a sport that has left indelible impressions of heart related tragedy.
It was heartening to observe the two men at the halfcourt line, intimately aware of what the other has gone through, forever able to lean on the other for support, probably joking about the “zipper” bond they share. Or maybe they were just talking jive about Justin Bieber’s game.
- Andrew Han
The Los Angeles Clippers will tell you their 15-game winning streak doesn’t matter. They’re not focused on it as much as the way they are playing during the streak.
It sounds like the same, old “taking it one game at a time” cliché before you talk to them some more.
“It’s really not about the streak,” said Ronny Turiaf. “Look at the way we’re winning these games. Look at the way we’re playing.”
Turiaf has a point:
The Clippers aren’t just winning games. They’re beating team by an average of about 16 points per game during this streak. Most of these games have been over by the third quarter, allowing Turiaf and the Clippers’ bench to give the Clippers’ starters a rest.
It happened again Thursday night as the Clippers defeated the Boston Celtics 103-77; they were leading by as many as 32 points late.
The win not only gave the Clippers 15 straight victories but a 23-6 record, now the best in the NBA.
- Arash Markazi, ESPNLA
The Uncomfortable Zone
Playing against Chris Paul must be terribly uncomfortable. He jabs at the ball when you’re just trying to setup your offense. He pushes down on your hip when you try to go anywhere. He gets those lobster claws on passes, and he just basically annoys the hell out of you for four (or more aptly now, three) quarters.
It’s draining to be constantly out of your comfort zone. Whenever I have to socialize for more than an hour, I come home and have to hide in a room to myself for the next four just to recharge. And playing against Paul is sort of like that. He turns every opponent into an introvert that just wants to crawl into a shell, even when that opponent is someone like Rajon Rondo.
Blake Griffin doesn’t provide that same amount of pressure as Paul, obviously, but he’s making his opponents uncomfortable in an entirely different way. Griffin came out and made three early jumpers – the dream shake, fadeaway off-the-glass being the prettiest – and by doing so immediately planted the seed in the mind of Kevin Garnett and the rest of the Celtics frontcourt that he can and will knock it down from outside. That’s taxing – when you no longer have a clear plan of attack on how to stop a player, a failsafe you can turn to, defending becomes a much more hopeless exercise. And that’s what the Clippers have made nearly all of their opponents lately – completely and utterly hopeless.
The Clippers have broken the pattern most every NBA game follows: a first quarter of the starters breaking a sweat and getting loose, a second quarter with the scrubs trying to locate the basket, and an end of the first half where the teams start caring a little more defensively. Then it’s rinse-wash-repeat for the second half, with the last six minutes usually revealing which team is really superior.
But it’s different when you essentially have two teams masquerading as one. Every minute carries a little more weight. That possession in the third quarter could very well be your last for the night. There isn’t a need to manufacture some make-believe sense of urgency; it exists on your own sideline in the guy itching for more playing time. The Clippers are 15-0 against the rest of the league, but the A-team and B-team are probably at an 8-7 split right now.
Here’s what I’m getting at. Over the last 15+ games, the Clippers have been playing uncomfortably hard. Opposing teams, filled with guys that play 82 game seasons, have a collective sense of what games are winnable and what games aren’t. And guess what? A game against the Clippers is no longer very comfortable at all, and as a result, it’s no longer very winnable either.
- D.J. Foster