They came, they saw, they fought. Literally. Matt Barnes and Caron Butler (and Ronny Turiaf) each got into separate altercations with the (mighty?) Greg Stiemsma, with Barnes earning a flagrant two and Butler and Turiaf getting T’d up. You don’t mess with a 40-year-old Grant Hill, Greg. Not cool man, not cool. You can now add Brawl City to ever-growing list of Clippers’ nicknames. Oh yeah and, well, apparently there was some basketball and the Clippers won. On to Last Call.
Recap | Box score
Defining moment: Blake Griffin hadn’t taken a single shot in a quiet fourth quarter, but he picked the right time to break his silence. Griffin’s twisting bank shot may have been incredibly lucky, but it was a dagger nonetheless.
MVP: DeAndre Jordan. For the first time in a long time, Jordan was allowed to stay on the floor to close out a game. Jordan’s offensive rebounds and basket protection late created the extra chances the Clippers needed to win it.
Well that was… not ideal. The Clippers have developed an over-reliance on Jamal Crawford without Chris Paul, and a persistent Wolves team likely would have made them pay if they had shot better than 26 percent from behind the arc.
– D.J. Foster
Tweet of the Game
Put a week on it. RT @steventurous: DeAndre Jordan has arms for days.
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) January 31, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
ClipperBlogLive’s Best Moment
There’s a Tim Legler sighting. If that doesn’t entice you, then you don’t love basketball.
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What’s steamier? A Barnes shot to the throat of Greg Stiemsma or Chris Childs declaring war on Kobe Bryant’s trachea? Judging purely by puns, you’d have to say Stiemsma, but Childs and Kobe really went at it.
The Clippers dominated the ball from the 3:00 mark of the fourth quarter, when they trailed 87-88, until Blake Griffin iced the game with 30 seconds remaining (an old fashioned three-point play that gave the Clippers a 94-88 lead). During this timeframe, Minnesota had the ball for a mere 42 seconds on three possessions–none of which resulted in a score. The Clippers kept possession for 1:45, including more than a minute on a single possession kept alive by consecutive offensive rebounds.
The shot distribution was reasonably equitable amongst the Clippers, though it would have been nice if the offense actually targeted the exceedingly effective Griffin. His only opportunity for a basket resulted in a memorable hot potato dagger as the shot clock expired.
Rather than asserting his right to the ball by rolling hard to the hoop or fighting for deep post position, Blake seems content to wander ambivalently around the crunch time action. With spark plugs like Crawford and Bledsoe running the late game offense in the absence of Chris Paul, Griffin will only be the go-to guy if he demands it.
“Chris Paul” not the only halfcourt play
At least three times during the fourth quarter, the Clippers ran a snug pick-and-roll. This is where Bledsoe has the ball in the post and Griffin comes down to set a screen. Bledsoe curls around the screen into the paint. After getting free, Bledsoe either has an open 15-footer, flip up a runner or lobs to Blake or DeAndre.
It’s something they’ve run with Chris Paul and, at times, Jamal Crawford. With Bledsoe, it didn’t yield many points, but it’s just another example of the Clippers play design and a crunch time unit evolving with Paul sidelined.
I never doubted the Clippers’ chemistry, but if I had any second guesses of it’s genuineness, tonight confirmed that this group is as close as they come. Yes, the bench cheers a lot. Yes, Ronny Turiaf has led a finger-twirling craze. Yes, they post pictures of #GotEm, go out to dinner together and have turned the locker room into a day care center.
But now, they’ve truly gone to battle together. While Matt Barnes is notably a hothead — and basically seeks any reason to start a confrontation — his attitude is one the Clippers need to employ sometimes. And tonight they did. His push of Stiemsma, while probably unwarranted, inspired the Clippers and light a fire under them after a lackluster start to the game.
And then Greg had to mess with Grant. Hill, who’s the second-oldest player in the league by one day, went up for a rebound and Stiemsma closelined him in air. Butler, living up to his Tuff Juice nickname, got into Stiemsma’s face, grabbed his jersey and put his forearm in his throat. Turiaf was in there too.
This isn’t mean to kick them when they’re down, but do you think anybody on the Lakers (outside of Metta World Peace, who is clearly more insane than Barnes) who try to fight someone if their teammate got knocked down? Would anyone back up Kobe? Dwight? Pau? No. It’s a little thing like that that shows this team is willing to fight to protect each other, willing to risk a fine or a suspension to support and back up their brother. That’s the meaning of camaraderie.