They finally did it. With a 126-101, the Clippers won their 50th game, a franchise record. There was a lot of good stuff tonight: six players in double figures (including the unlikely trio of DeAndre Jordan, Willie Green and Eric Bledsoe), 39 assists (!), six turnovers (!!!), 14 steals, and a monster second half. Jordan and Bledsoe, in particular, had great games, and the Clippers know they’ll need to count on those two to go deep into the playoffs. Even if Phoenix is terrible, which they are, the Clippers of the past few weeks had been playing to the level of their competition and would have won this game by 8 — but not tonight. They got over the hump, crossed the finish line and joined the 50-win club. Congrats. Onto Last Call:
Los Angeles Clippers
Recap | Box score
Defining Moment: What looked like a regular old blowout turned bizarre when Ryan Hollins put Goran Dragic in a ridiculous headlock right in front of Phoenix’s bench.
MVP: DeAndre Jordan. Too big, too athletic, too close to the rim. Jordan soared over Phoenix’s big men for a double-double in the first half alone, and finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
X-Factor: The Clippers’ starting lineup showed up in a big way, propelling the team to a 15-0 start while finishing with a 38-point third quarter. That’s not a bad way to put a franchise record 50th win in the books.
– D.J. Foster
This is FIFTY
Tweet(s) of the Game
@fredkatz no, backwards would have been: knud kaerb tsaf eht rof luaP sirhC ot niffirG ekalB
— Digby Howis (@DigbyHowis) April 4, 2013
— Maalik Wayns (@MaalikWayns2) April 4, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per 36 Stat O’ The Night
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
In a congratulatory episode, Andrew Han, D.J. Foster, Fred Katz and Patrick James discuss the significance of the Clippers winning 50 games, their playoff chances, and Clipper interactions with other people.
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So, That Just Happened
DeAndre Jordan made 10 baskets from the field. 8 of them were dunks. Blake Griffin added one of his own, hell, even Chris Paul and Willie Green got in on the action. All told, the Clippers shot 27-for-40 in the paint. In the first three quarters. It was just a good old-fashioned butt whoopin’.
The cool thing about the Clippers is that blowouts don’t get boring. For one, Ronny Turiaf, King of .gif’s, checks into the game. Nobody enjoys exaggerated celebrations during 20-point games more than Ronny. Second, we get Eric Bledsoe on the court for extended minutes. Some things are better in small doses – Eric Bledsoe is not one of them. More is always better. Perhaps most importantly, however, is the Clippers’ blowout style of play. The Clips come up with some remarkable highlights when the game is close – when they’re up big, they border on ridiculous.
When a team like San Antonio goes on a big knockout run, it’s made up mostly of perfectly executed high screen-rolls that result in wide-open corner threes. When the Clippers go on that type of run, it’s punctuated by DeAndre Jordan dunking on defenders’ ancestors, or Eric Bledsoe making no-look passes on the break, or Jamal Crawford putting his defender on skates and pulling up for an unconscious 25-footer.
Everyone knows that the Clippers are capable of playing a more entertaining brand of basketball than any team West of Miami. When they’re floundering and their spacing is troublesome, they can look like a bunch of beached whales flopping around. During blowouts though? You’d better not change the channel, otherwise you miss Eric Bledsoe bouncing the ball off his head to Matt Barnes who throws down a dunk with his feet.
– Jeremy Conlin
Any Tricks Left, Pony?
It’s only right that the DeAndre Jordan would explode for a spectacular 20-12 performance on the night I decided to write Lamar Odom’s obituary. I knew it would be tough to condemn Odom, but seeing DJ eviscerate the undersized Phoenix starting unit made the bitter pill a bit easier to swallow.
Odom’s number peaked in January/February and have sloped steadily downward ever since. Now, we’re dealing with some small numbers here, but the relative changes are significant. Odom scored a steady 4.8 ppg throughout December, January, and February, but has since slid to just 3.5 ppg. During those three months, he was also taking more shots and making a higher percentage of them than he has in March and April. His rebounds are down from a peak of 7.6 rpg in February to 5.5 rpg in March. But more telling than the decline in his stats is the decline in his confidence and accompanying decline as any sort of offensive threat. For a few months there, we got to see an occasional guest spot by the Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom.
But maybe he’s still at least an extra. Odom’s only basket against the Suns came at the outset of the fourth quarter, on a well-drawn play that gave Odom a clear path to the hoop on his favored side of the lane. Oh do I long for the days when Vinny Del Negro inundated the media with upbeat progress reports concerning Odom’s weight and game speed.
– Michael Shagrin
Obligatory Standings Update
With Denver, Memphis, and Los Angeles in action Wednesday, the 3-4-5 seeding race was in full effect. That each team won — and convincingly so — means the Clippers didn’t lose any ground, but they did lose time. At this point it’s starting to look like winning out will be necessary if the Clippers want a shot at home court advantage in the first round, but even that wouldn’t guarantee it. Ultimately, what’s more important than their seeding will be how they’re playing going into the first round.
Are they rotating and closing out on perimeter shooters? Are they recovering after hedging on pick-and-rolls? Are they grabbing defensive rebounds and limiting turnovers? Are they talking to each other? These are the questions the team can answer over the next six games. As for the question whether they hold home court in the first round? That’s not entirely up to them.
– Patrick James
Use whatever adjective you like. Lazy. Uninspired. Slothful. Any of those words could describe the recent outputs we’ve seen from the Clipper starters. But it took a downtrodden Suns team for them to get their mojo back. For the first time in a while, the Clips actually got off to a good start, beginning Wednesday’s game with a 15-0 run. There was energy. You could even say they were kinetic. Then came the third quarter: same thing. After leading by only seven at the half, the Clippers put up a 38 mark in third. That one was on the starters. And for the first time in over a week, we can safely describe the starting unit as being potent.
– Fred Katz
50 Wins Is A Big Deal
50 wins is a big deal. It may not sound like it, as I’m sure at this point only a few franchises have yet to win 50 games (Bobcats and who else?), but the Clippers made history, and it’s a sign of how much things have changed since the acquisition of Chris Paul on December 15th, 2011. This team is now a contender and world-class organization.
I know I myself have been hard on the Clippers at times because I have such high expectations for them. This team, at least on paper, is every bit as talented as the Spurs and Thunder. They have certain weaknesses and could use this or that, but so does every other practically every other ball club. Lost in it all is that this team has had a remarkable season and is going to win somewhere between 54 to 56 games.
With all the injuries and rotational changes, that’s quite the feat. The Clippers may or may not get out of the first round. If they get there, they probably won’t get out of the second round. But that doesn’t matter. This is the best Clipper team of all-time, and it should be viewed as such. We should value what they are over what they’re not. They’re in the 50-win club for the first time, and have two superstars. So any Clipper fans reading this, please feel free to pat yourselves on the back, you deserve this.
– Jovan Buha
Sisyphus Climbs the Mountain
– Andrew Han