U-G-L-Y, you play iso on the fly. Not the best outing by the Clippers tonight. And a game where Chris Paul’s absence in the fourth quarter was painfully apparent. But during all these CP3-less games, the long view is the perspective to maintain: take the best player, an MVP-caliber player, off any team and that team will struggle. No matter what. Still doesn’t mean we can’t mope a little, though. Right?
Recap | Box score
No Daily Dime tonight, but let’s all dim the lights and melancholically bob our heads in sync.
Tweet of the Game
Jamal Crawford on final shot: “I’ll take that shot ten times out of ten, and I’ll make it nine times out of ten.”
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) January 27, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
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Gambling is the identity
For all the complaints about the Clippers’ 3-point defensive woes, not too many people complain about all the steals and turnovers Los Angeles creates. But it all ties together. The Clippers are gamblers on the perimeter, looking to jump passing lanes, roaming from the weakside, trapping aggressively with certain personnel.
As a result, the team’s great defensive advantages come at the cost of giving up some open shots from deep. But let’s not kid ourselves, tonight the Blazers hit some difficult, contested 3-pointers, too. Will the Clippers ever excel at guarding the 3-ball? Maybe not. But, for now, that’s the price to be paid for their insane turnover rate and ball-hawking defense.
– Andrew Han
Battle of the benches
Heading into the game, there was no question which team had the better bench. The Clippers lead the NBA in bench scoring (41.5 PPG), while the Blazers rank dead last (16.5 PPG). Except it didn’t look that way in the first half, when the Clippers’ bench outscored the Blazers’ bench only 16-14. The spark didn’t last, of course, as the Blazers’ bench scored only two points in the second half, compared to 27 points from the Clippers’ bench. But the first-half stalemate between the benches made a significant difference in the game.
– Jovan Buha, for ESPNLA
Here are two plays that should be discussed at length with a basketball therapist. Neither play was particularly significant in the grand scheme of the game, but both demand attention:
DeAndre Jordan: Midway through the first quarter, DeAndre Jordan was defending JJ Hickson on an island 15-feet from the basket when Jordan got a finger on an ill-advised Hickson fallaway. Hickson hit the floor as the ball floated up immediately above Jordan. When the ball dropped to eye level, rather than grabbing it, Jordan swatted the ball at the Blazers bench. LaMarcus Aldridge scored on the following sideline inbounds play.
Jamal Crawford: Nearing the end of the second quarter, the Clippers were down by 11 and starting to let the game get away. Usually the point when Chris Paul takes over, former Blazer Jamal Crawford took it upon himself to make up for the absence of the point god. Crawford gathered the ball at the top of the key, guarded by a prelapsarian Wes Matthews. Jamal started with two quick dribbles through the legs, than he immediately lurched to the elbow where he let Matthews catch up with him. Just as Matthews settled into position he immediately crossed over leaving a confused Matthews eight feet in his rearview. As Crawford drained his pull-up, Matthews felt his only remedy was to make unintelligible hand gestures at the referee.
– Michael Shagin
DeAndre or Lamar? What to do? What to do?
DeAndre Jordan was playing defense and rebounding for the first three quarters. But after holding LaMarcus Aldridge to a subpar shooting night, DeAndre bid farewell for the rest of the night. And that meant lots of Lamar Odom.
Zero: That was the number of minutes Jordan played in the fourth quarter. It was also the number of rebounds Odom grabbed in the game.
Odom is usually the Clippers’ closer when it comes to close, crunch-time situations, but he has struggled lately. His defense over the past few games hasn’t been what it was in the previous month and a half, especially against the pick-and-roll. Tonight, that trend continued. Yet, the rotation didn’t adjust. Come the fourth quarter, DeAndre vanished to Benchland and Odom played every minute in his place.
Vinny Del Negro has stuck with his same rotations throughout the season. Most of that has been a positive. There’s no chance Odom gains back the physique and confidence that’s turned him into a contributor if Vinny doesn’t give him those early-season minutes. Absolutely no chance.
But at the same time, the Clippers lost a game tonight with a struggling defender on the floor, while a plus defender parked himself on the bench.
– Fred Katz
It’s not as easy as it seems
If there’s a unifying criticism of the Clippers’ late game strategy, it’s that Blake Griffin doesn’t get the ball enough. As well as he played? It’s natural to want the ball in his hands.
But while that’s great in theory, it’s not as easy in practice. So much has to go right just to get Griffin a post touch. He has to establish deep position, and that’s not easy when you’re milking the clock. If he doesn’t get good position, the entry pass becomes all the more difficult — as we saw when lanky Nic Batum snatched a Matt Barnes’ entry pass right out of the air because he could easily guard Barnes and Griffin simultaneously.
But even if you are able to get the ball on the block to Griffin in good position with little time, more issues are presented. Help defense or a full on double-team is invited, and then you get the ball kicked to, say, Lamar Odom. Making defenses account for Blake in the post with 15 seconds on the clock is a whole lot different than 5 seconds. He needs time to operate. And of course, the likelihood of getting anything towards the rim without a foul being issued is almost non-existent. For what it’s worth, Griffin is still a 64 percent free throw shooter.
Here’s the point. I detest isolation hero ball as much as the next guy, but there’s a reason why post players don’t get as many field goal attempts in the clutch as guards do. It’s not an issue unique to the Clippers, and if you want to kill Vinny Del Negro for it, I’ve got a list of about 26 or 27 other coaches for you to go after as well.
– D.J. Foster