You don’t know you’ve been different until you’re back to being the same. Welcome back, angst. I missed you. What follows is a highly subjective, moment-by-moment, tour through last night’s third quarter, or, as I like to call it, my least favorite 30 minutes of 2013 thus far.
10:18 – Clippers down 17. Festus Ezeli grabs the arm of a rising Blake Griffin and brings Blake down hard on his shoulder and the back of his head. Blake lies on the court, dazed. Mike Smith hopes Blake won’t look up at the Jumbotron replay, worried that it will “give him the willies.”
After a huddle around the replay monitor, the refs announce a Flagrant 1 and the Warrior fans boo. I am not enjoying you, Warrior fans. I don’t care for your Miami-esque white T-shirt “whiteout;” I don’t like that you jettisoned your muscle-suit-wearing mascot with the Rocketeer face gear when Oklahoma City stole the Sonics because mustache man’s name happened to be “Thunder,” and I don’t like you booing Blake’s concussion.
Mike Smith mentions that moments like this can change a game. Blake misses the free-throw.
8:43 – Criticizing Chris Paul is like criticizing Derek Jeter: it can be done, but only in very small doses. And don’t get me wrong, I get the meta-game mindset of the True Point Guard. It’s not just this pass in this moment. The True Point Guard knows how many shots each of his court brothers need to Get Involved, to Instill Confidence for Down The Line, Make Shots We Need To Make In May, and so on.
But here is what I am screaming at the television: YOU’RE CHRIS PAUL! YOU’RE CHRIS PAUL! YOU’RE CHRIS PAUL! (I should mention that I have a roommate, that I don’t know him very well, and that he came home with what I can only assume is/was a girlfriend at just this moment.)
But I digress. My point is, there are unselfish passes and then there’s just plain weird. On consecutive possessions Paul passes up open 3s at the top of the key so that 1. Blake can shoot a 22-footer and 2. Matt Barnes can shoot an, admittedly, equally open 3 from the top of the key. BUT YOU’RE CHRIS PAUL.
7:56 – Ralph Lawler: “Willie with a long two ball, which is considered the worst shot in basketball.”
6:42 – Vinny adjusts, goes small, brings in Lamar to help facilitate a gummy offense. Good things start to happen.
Chris Paul gets that Garbage Pail Kids grouchy look and starts just outright messing with Stephen Curry, who has thoroughly outplayed CP3 tonight. First, with Curry guarding him at the three-point line, Paul fakes right, goes right and runs straight through him, popping up from the bang-bang play and walking towards the line before the ref signals the foul. Cowed, he signals block. Paul makes both freebies.
Lamar immediately gets into the act, throwing an aggressive trap on Curry and forcing a steal from the Warrior waif. Lamar is doing all kinds of good Lamar things, except that he keeps missing layups. Those, you kind of wish he would make.
6:02 – After a scramble, Andris Biedrins appears to control a 50/50 ball. Paul reaches into Biedrins’ arms and just straight snatches the ball back, then glowers at Andris like “You can’t have that. I’m taking that. Because I’m Chris Paul and you’re Andris Biedrins, and I don’t love your haircut, and don’t you know that I ALWAYS SNATCH BASKETBALLS OUT OF PEOPLE’S HANDS?” (which, as my 200 Twitter followers know, is a thing I love pointing out).
Opines Ralph: “I’d want Chris Paul in my foxhole, I guarantee you that.”
5:18 - No one is making shots. Jamal is missing. Paul is missing. Barnes is missing. LO makes a wide-open 14 footer. Everyone is stunned. It pulls the Clippers to within 12. The white out seems anxious.
4:49 – Wait, no they’re not. The white out taunts Blake Griffin after he heaves a desperation corner three that HITS THE SIDE OF THE BACKBOARD. Mike Smith quips: “He never has to be embarrassed about a missed free throw again in his life, because nothing could be worse than that.” Warrior fans are standing in their seat to point and laugh. I’m not loving you, Warrior fans.
In other news, the Clippers have three field goals in the quarter.
4:23 – Chris Paul has remembered he’s Chris Paul… maybe too well. He just tried to slalom dribble between three defenders before settling for a fade-away three. PASS CHRIS!
ALL TIMES: Jamal Crawford has literally – a word I swear I am using correctly – done four things this quarter that have made me involuntarily slap myself in the face. A one-on-three up and under attempt while Matt Barnes stood wide open in the corner pointlessly waving his arms turned me momentarily into Macaulay Culkin. Literally.
Then, Jamal hesitates on a three, goes between his legs, draws a double, and knocks down a 20-foot with Harrison Barnes in his face. It’s the fourth and penultimate basket of the quarter. (Later, one of the post-game commentators mention Jamal as a “bright spot off the bench.” Um, not tonight guys. Points ain’t everything.) (Wait, double parenthesis. In a post-game interview, Jamal says “we need to watch the tape.” Uh huh.)
2:18 – Bledsoe comes in and Barnes goes out, because why try playing three adequate perimeter defenders at the very same time?
2:05 – Jarrett Jack drives for a layup. Mike Smith: “When he slithers to the goal like that is he a Jarrett knife?” a. That is a very obscure joke, and I didn’t appreciate having to Google the reference. b. Too soon, Mike. We’re getting eviscerated here. (Oh wait… now I see – it works on two levels.)
1:35 – OK, we all know David Lee is the best player in the NBA, but would he be quite as good if you guarded him ALL THE WAY OUT TO 15 FEET???
1:02 - Klay Thompson makes his 14th wide open 3. Mike Smith: “Jamal is shaking his head like he’s thinking ‘Oh yeah, that’s the guy I’m supposed to put up a hand against.’”
Oh yeah. Oh yeah, indeed.