I haven’t officially checked this in the NBA rulebook, but I think a 26-point, road win over Memphis offsets a home loss to Orlando. I should seriously double check that. Either way, the Chris Paul-less Clippers just reeled off what was maybe their most impressive win of the season and they did it with only 10 points and six rebounds from Blake Griffin. Time to celebrate that with Last Call:
Recap | Box score
MVP: Eric Bledsoe. With Chris Paul sidelined, Bledsoe played 28 minutes with no turnovers against one of the league’s most opportunistic defenses. He also shut down Mike Conley (2-for-11) once again as well.
X-Factor: Bench Scoring. The Clippers second unit put the game away nice and early, outscoring the Grizzlies 28-4 in bench points in the first half.
Well that was…suffocating: The Grizzlies tried to run everything through the block without Rudy Gay, but the Clippers shut off passing lanes and walled up inside to force Memphis into a 30 percent shooting night.
- D.J. Foster
Tweet of the Game
— DeAndre Jordan (@deandrejordan) January 15, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
A Clippers-Grizzlies matchup means all Clipper fans should have an opportunity to relive this 12-minute, 32-second video:
ClipperBlogLive’s Best Moment
In a two-man game, Andrew defends his slightly disfigured idea of the “compliment sandwich”.
Check Your Messages
“The Clippers get too many points in transition.” “Blake Griffin only dunks. He can’t shoot.” “The Clippers don’t have a game built for the playoffs.”
The Memphis defense is exactly the kind of team that plays playoff basketball. They’re second in defensive efficiency this season. They play a slow-tempo, knock-down, drag-out game and make teams tap out. And none of that mattered.
Being able to generate turnovers and get easy buckets is generally considered an asset. One of the most efficient shots in basketball are at the rim, and dunks would count as “shots at the rim.” So why is there a pervasive sentiment that for some reason the Clippers are doing a bad thing? Any reasonable player/coach/team would insist on doing the easy thing until it didn’t work. And that’s not to say the Clippers can’t play a different way, they can. It’s more about the Clippers taking the easiest path to success. It’s about the Clippers telling the league to stop what they’re already doing before switching gears. “Don’t like playig such an easy brand of basketball? Make us stop. Make us.”
- Andrew Han, (@andrewthehan)
The Memphis Shuffle
With Chris Paul out of the rotation and Blake Griffin in foul trouble, Vinny Del Negro’s well-established end-of-the-half lineup (Paul-Crawford-Barnes-Griffin-Odom) was conspicuously replaced with a lineup of Bledsoe-Crawford-Butler-Odom-
- Michael Shagrin, (@mshaggy)
Walk-On in Memphis
The bench cheered like it had just clinched a spot in the NBA Finals, but it wasn’t even because of a 26-point road win in Memphis. It was because Ryan Hollins hit a jumper.
The Clippers continue to treat the end of these blow-out games the same way power conference, collegiate players handle non-conference, November throttlings of mediocre, mid-major squads.
In the past, the game within the game has been to get Lamar Odom a three. Or to make sure Ronny Turiaf scores. Tonight, it was getting Ryan Hollins a jumper.
And then it was Hollins taking another jumper.
And when he hit it, the Clippers seemed as happy as they actually were to walk out of Memphis with a win.
- Fred Katz, (@FredKatz)
Late in the fourth quarter of the blowout, Mike Smith commented about how a Paul/Crawford/Hill/Griffin/
What do you think it’s like to be Matt Barnes right now? As maybe the best off-ball cutter in the game (settle down, D.J. Foster) Barnes must feel like he’s in a cutter’s utopia with all these great passers around him.
A Barnes/Hill/Odom frontline is just brimming with basketball intelligence, and it’s evident even though the group has barely played together. I mean, did you see some of the dimes Hill dropped to Barnes tonight? They showed this connection like they were meant to play together, like they were operating on a wavelength my feeble basketball mind couldn’t quite comprehend. It was incredible.
Smart basketball players come in all different shapes and sizes, and they use their intelligence in different ways. And while we’ll rightfully praise Eric Bledsoe for his zero turnovers in 28 minutes and marvel over the point guard jelly he swims around in playing under Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups, very quietly Blake Griffin will watch how Lamar Odom finds an open man from the high post, or how Grant Hill attacks with the purpose of dropping a dime, or how Matt Barnes slices at just the right moment. And he’ll learn.
This is a smart team. I wouldn’t say that last year — in fact, I regularly said the opposite. And how do we know the difference? Is the intelligence reflected in the record? Not really. I’m reminded of a lyric:
“If life keeps asking you the same questions, you ain’t learning the lessons.”
The questions have changed because the Clippers have learned quite a few lessons along the way. The big question still looms (can the Clippers outsmart San Antonio?), but passing all the answerable questions with flying colors bodes well in the meantime.
- D.J. Foster, (@fosterdj)