The Clippers trailed from nearly start to finish, but in the end, the Point God came up clutch and sealed the victory. There were some great things in this game: DeAndre Jordan’s performance (13 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks); Eric Bledsoe’s triumphant return; Willie Green’s barrage of 3s (3 of 4, 15 points); Jamal Crawford’s steal and dunk to give the Clippers a commanding four-point lead; and, of course, Paul’s and-one shot to secure a Clipper win (and his fourth quarter play in general; he had 17 of his 29 points in the fourth).
Not so great? Everything else, for the most part. The offense stalled a lot, and the defense was lackluster and slow in its rotations. It was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless, and the Clippers needed this type of victory against a good playoff team (they hadn’t had one like this in about a month). Onto Last Call:
Los Angeles Clippers
Recap | Box score
No Dime tonight, folks.
Tweet(s) of the Game
This Clippers offense is hilarious, hold it for 20 secs to get a single pick and then scramble to get a shot off in time.
— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) March 24, 2013
Two things you don’t hear people talk abut a lot: Jamal Crawford playing defense — Jamal Crawford dunking. Just a huge play.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) March 24, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per 36 Stat O’ The Night
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
I hop in for about five minutes to talk the game’s atmosphere and Reggie Evans’ return (then I get yelled at by the surrounding Nets journalists and have to be quiet/leave).
Check Your Messages
Oh, no… wait, yes! I’m so conflicted…
Late in the first quarter, Chris Paul bumped knees with Keith Bogans, and lay on the floor for more than a moment, clearly in pain. Any fan of Chris Paul was likely having a mini-heart attack at this point. Chris Paul’s history with knees is not exactly pristine. So Paul hobbled to the bench, and he was replaced by…. wait a second…
Good God! That’s Eric Bledsoe’s music! Returning from injury, Bledsoe checked in and immediately made a nice play, a driving, twisting layup over a contest, reminding everyone why he’s probably the internet’s favorite role player.
Turns out Chris Paul was fine, and we got the best of both worlds. Paul did his Point God routine down the stretch (17 4th-quarter points), Bledsoe looked strong in limited minutes, making another highlight play (the And-1 with the flex), and we even got treated to a few minutes of the Paul-Bledsoe backcourt (!!!!) that people have been clamoring for all season.
- Jeremy Conlin
To The Corners, Please
On threes in the first quarter, the Clippers shot 5-for-7 from the corners, 0-for-3 from everywhere else. For the rest of the game, they were 2-for-6 from the corners, and 2-for-10 everywhere else. For those of you who were liberal arts majors, that’s 7-for-13 from the corners and 2-for-13 from above the breaks.
Everyone knows that the corner three is the most efficient shot on the floor, but it’s rare that you see such a divide in efficiency from the two areas. The Clippers are actually a decent above-the-break three-point shooting team, making 36% of their attempts from each wing, which is better than their overall 35% for the season (they shoot an abysmal 29% from the top of the key), so it was strange to see them shoot so poorly from each wing.
- Jeremy Conlin
Did anyone else notice Vinny Del Negro physically reposition Griffin on a late game sideline defensive set? Is that even allowed?
- Andrew Han
Pedestrian, Maybe, But Moving in the Right Direction?
A popular metaphor for the NBA season is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We usually say so to cast aspersions on teams who get off to quick starts they can’t finish. (Granted, the metaphor is imperfect; in a race, starting too fast has a causal relationship with finishing too slowly—you’re tired. In basketball, however, fall victories don’t necessarily cause spring regressions.)
As they near the end of the regular season race, the Clippers have looked increasingly pedestrian. Putting aside their undefeated December, the Clippers have posted decidedly unremarkable monthly figures. November: 8-6. January: 9-7. February: 8-5. March: 6-4.
That’s why tonight’s victory over the Nets was so intriguing. Not only do the Nets have an elite point guard (the likes of whom Chris Paul has struggled against lately), but they also managed to break Clippers’ stride and take a lead into the fourth quarter. The comeback win keeps the team half a game behind Denver and half a game ahead of Memphis in the Western Conference playoff standings. The race is nowhere close to won for the Clippers, but at least the team is keeping it interesting.
- Patrick James
Best Win In a Month
The Clippers needed this win for a variety of reasons.
For one, the Grizzlies and Nuggets both won tonight, applying enormous pressure on the Clippers to maintain their ground in the fight for the three-seed. Second, the Clippers hadn’t had a win like this — a close game against a solid playoff team — since Feb. 28th in Indiana.
Their victories since then? At Cleveland, vs. Milwaukee, vs. Detroit, vs. New York (missing their two best players in Anthony and Chandler), and vs. Philadelphia (with losses vs. Oklahoma City, at Denver, vs. Memphis and at Sacramento). That’s almost a month’s worth of games where the Clippers didn’t beat any quality teams. While the players and coaches will publicly say they believe they can play with and beat anybody — and I think they really believe that and can — they needed a win like this to calm their psyche and affirm their confidence.
The Clippers trailed for most of this game. Even if it was just by a possession or two, the Nets had control of this game from start to finish basically. They should have won. The Clippers had no business stealing this game. But they did, and that’s what counts. That’s what championship-caliber teams do; even if they’re having an off-night, they still find a way to win.
On paper, this is just another regular season game in late March. But for the Clippers, this was more than that. This was a big win against a healthy, admirable playoff team. That’s something they haven’t been able to boast for a while.
- Jovan Buha
DeAndre, Giants, and Baby Steps
Baby steps. They aren’t the steps Vinny Del Negro and DeAndre Jordan should be taking at this point in their careers, but here we are. Jordan played 9 huge minutes in the fourth quarter, which is sadly double his average minutes (4.6) in fourth quarters this season. When Jordan has a true 7-foot post player to cover, and he’s playing well, and the weather is just right, it seems like Del Negro is more willing to leave Jordan in the game late.
That’s good! And it’s better that Jordan provided some positive reinforcement for Del Negro with his play. 13 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, 100% shooting, 35 minutes — all good.
But here’s the question: what teams in the Western Conference playoffs will Del Negro see fit as suitable matchups for Jordan in fourth quarters? Against Memphis and Marc Gasol last time around, Jordan didn’t play a single minute in the fourth. Against Houston? Zero. Oklahoma City? Zippo. Denver? None. San Antonio the last two times? You get the idea.
So is this really a baby step? We’ll see. But something tells me that unless Brook Lopez is actually a quintuplet and there will be more Lopez brothers suiting up for Western Conference team, we won’t be seeing a whole lot of Jordan in the fourth quarter come playoff time.
- D.J. Foster