There’s nothing like a second try to get things right. After losing a tough one to the Blazers on Saturday, the Clippers made amends on Sunday with a Blake Griffin game for the ages. While everyone at the water cooler fawns over Kobe and his 14 assists, you make sure to mention Blake had 9 — in three quarters. Or, ya know, just bring up the standings. Who am I kidding, you guys are well-trained in the martial arts of Lakers fan denial. Wax on, wax off — it’s Last Call.
Recap | Box score
MVP: Blake Griffin. Griffin absolutely bullied Portland’s frontcourt in three quarters of work by securing deep post position and making perfect passes en route to a 23-5-9 line in just 28 minutes.
X-Factor: 3-point shooting. The Blazers went 11-for-25 from 3-point land in their home win against the Clippers on Saturday, but Sunday held a different fate. Portland shot 3-for-15 and turned it over 19 times in an ugly loss.
LVP: J.J. Hickson. Stopping Blake Griffin is no easy task, but Hickson offered almost no resistance defensively all night long.
Tweet of the Game
At 33-13, the #Clippers now have more wins than they did in Blake Griffin’s rookie season only two years ago.
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) January 28, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
Jovan Buha with video on Blake, Beets, Bears and Battlestar Gallactica. Or just Blake.
Check Your Messages
The model of…consistency?
Vinny Del Negro loves consistency. Most coaches do, obviously, but it’s practically a buzzword at VDN pressers. Consistency – or the lack thereof – was last season’s explanation for frequently sitting DeAndre at crunch time, preferring to trust lesser athletes who made fewer gaffes.
So there’s something ironic about Vinny’s increasing reliance on Lamar Odom, since no player in the league lurches more frequently between intuitive, inventive playmaking, and head-scratching muffs than 2013 Lamar Odom – often on consecutive plays.
First, watch Lamar grab a defensive board and control the break, working into the lane off a Grant Hill screen, and neatly curling a pass around his body through a collapsing defense to Matt Barnes for an 8-foot bunny. Then, marvel as the ball squirts free when Lamar goes up for an easy lay-up on the very next possession, depriving Blake Griffin of a would-be tenth assist. It’s like a concert flautist who flies through “flight of the bumblebee” but occasionally struggles with the trickier parts of “Frere Jaques.”
A fun question to start some discussion: What is this LO worth going forward? Let’s assume this is how the rest of Odom’s season plays out: he rebounds solidly, his passing and ball handling are occasionally sublime, and he shoots like my grandmother. Oh, and he may only be able to hold it together psychologically in Los Angeles. It’s a unique and nuanced negotiation. By how much will the Clips outbid themselves for his services going forward?
The Hard Hedge
Lamar Odom had a very good night, while playing his patently excellent defense. Tonight, however, his more aggressive defensive moves hastened some easy shots for Portland.
When Odom hedges hard on a pick n’ roll (the result looks like a temporary double-team on the ball handler), he generally leaved his man open and the basket vulnerable. Sometimes, he’s able to recover, using his long arms to obstruct passing lines while he recovers his position. But if the hard hedge doesn’t seriously disrupt the ball handler (usually Lillard tonight), he’ll have an opportunity to target Odom’s man as he rolls to the hoop. This happened more than once.
The remedy is better team defense. It’s hard to fault Odom at all when he’s defending in a manner that forces turnovers and disrupts the primary action. This aggressive move wouldn’t yield as many open layups if there was more consistent backline defensive rotations, one of the subtle skills Blake Griffin has lacked so far this season.
New passing heights
With 23 points and nine assists tonight, it marked the second straight game Blake Griffin had at least 20 points and 9 assists. The last player 6-10 or taller to do that was Chris Webber in 2005. If you count Webber as 6-9 (what he’s listed as on Basketball-Reference), then Griffin is the tallest player since David Robinson (7-1) in 1994. The only other players 6-8 and over to do so since 1985: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Detlef Schrempf, Grant Hill, Antoine Walker, LeBron James, Stephen Jackson and Luol Deng. That’s quite some company for Griffin, who’s just scratching the surface of his potential in his third season.