All good things must come to an end. For whatever reason, the Clippers just didn’t have the goods tonight. It’s been over a month since we’ve talked about a loss. Does anyone even remember how? Let’s head into Last Call and find out:
Recap | Box score
MVP: Andre Miller. Starting for the injured Ty Lawson, Andre Miller completely controlled the game by exploiting angles and manufacturing easy looks (12 assists) for his bouncy big men. Miller’s old man game really does get better with more time, apparently.
Defining Moment: Watching your own shots rim out all night is discouraging enough, but to watch JaVale McGee, a player who hasn’t made a 3-pointer in his entire career, knock down a buzzer-beater? That’s a dagger.
Well that was…fitting for the New Year. As the Clippers had their 17-game winning streak snapped, the Nuggets made it eight straight home victories. Out with the old, in with the new.
Not with a bang but a whimper
Any loss stinks, and one that ends a long streak is even worse. But an even temperament always helps in a long season. So here’s a Rodgers and Hammerstein song to wave goodbye to the streak.
Tweet of the Game
There goes the Clips’ unbeaten streak in January…
— Larry Coon (@LarryCoon) January 2, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
ClipperBlogLive’s Best Moment
No show tonight as the staff recovers from New Year’s Eve. Oh! But didn’t you make a resolution to watch more cat videos??
Check Your Messages
A silver lining
I know I’m rarely the one pointing out positives for the Clippers, so I decided to switch things up a bit. The streak had to end at some point, and this seemed like an appropriate time. The Nuggets are a tough out at home, and the altitude is surely in their favor. Plus, their much better than their 18-15 record indicates, so this isn’t necessarily a “bad” loss like the Cavaliers or Hornets games were.
With that said, a simple look at the box score shows a sign of encouragement. Yes, the Clippers lost. And yes, it was by a fair amount of points. But still, in a game where they looked like they had no energy, the Clippers held the uptempo Nuggets to just 92 points. Last season’s team wouldn’t have done that; they would’ve probably given up 110 points or so.
While the Clippers did not give their best defensive effort, the problems stemmed mainly from the offense tonight. It was stagnant and sloppy, and even when the Clippers got good looks they couldn’t convert. That happens sometimes. But if tonight proves anything, it’s that the Clippers’ defensive effort will be there every night. That’s the biggest difference from last season.
- Jovan Buha
Cold, cold, ice cold shooting
If my math is right, and it often isn’t, this is the first time all season the Clippers have shot under 40% for a game. Postgame, Chris Paul estimated two or three of the 29 3-point shots the Clippers attempted were contested. Some nights a team just doesn’t have it.
- Andrew Han
Will Lack Of Identity Help Or Hurt Clippers?
Every team wants a calling card. The Detroit Pistons had the Jordan Rules, the Boston Celtics had Ubuntu. Whether it’s run-and-gun basketball, pressure defense, or whatever else, teams love putting pride in something they can do better than everyone else.
Many of the great teams in the NBA already have an identity established, but for 17 straight games, the Clippers have stormed the league by actually assuming the identity of their opponents. Even with a target fixated on their back as the wins racked up, the Clippers were like a great spy who somehow managed to hide in plain sight. But how?
There are different theories, and probably a few involve the shadow the Lakers’ mess casts, but more likely it’s because the Clippers weren’t rattling off wins behind a specific brand of basketball. There was no Tom Thibodeau defensive system, no Grit and Grind, no Triangle Offense — just a team that happily accepted its opponent’s terms of engagement for an entire month. You want to play fast? Please do. You want to play half-court basketball? Chris Paul thanks you. There was no style the Clippers couldn’t and wouldn’t embrace during the streak.
- D.J. Foster, at ESPN.com