Editor’s note: Once again, we’re eschewing the full force of Last Call for a more preseason-appropriate version (that means it’s shorter). But hey, we’re still here — regardless of how sloppy the game was. Because even in the bleak senselessness of a scrimmage loss to Portland’s b-squad, there’s an opportunity to learn something. Let that learning commence.
Los Angeles Clippers
Recap | Box score
Tweet of the Night
Doc Rivers didn’t like playing beneath all that Laker history, so Clippers are blocking the banners for their games pic.twitter.com/nuiBNBlt1l
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) October 18, 2013
Small ball… Defense?
The first quarter was incredibly sloppy for both teams, as one would expect in a preseason game. Specifically, the Trailblazers had a turnover problem in the first half of the game; they recklessly threw the ball around on offense, sometimes in the phantom hands of space. There were multiple occasions of unforced turnovers due to a miscommunication between players. However, the Clippers should be credited for some of the Trailblazers’ sloppiness.
Around the 3-minute mark of the 1st quarter, the Clippers threw out a Collison-Crawford-Dudley-Griffin-Mullens lineup. For two quick defensive possessions, they swarmed hard and quickly off pick-and-rolls in hopes of rattling the Trailblazers. The result?
1Q 02:34 Team Turnover : Shot Clock Turnover
1Q 01:59 Team Turnover : Shot Clock Turnover
They induced two shot clock violations: the Blazers couldn’t organize their (preseason) offense, let alone get their shot off.
Doc Rivers stood up in encouragement and joy at the end of both of these possessions. The swarming would stop, for now, as Griffin would be substituted out of the game, but this could further sign of good things to come.
– Davis Vo
1Q 8:53 DeAndre Jordan offensive foul (Will Barton draws the foul)
1Q 8:15 DeAndre Jordan shooting foul (Robin Lopez draws the foul)
I know, I know (#preseason), but two fouls in the first four minutes of a game was the quickest hook for DeAndre Jordan in seasons past. And by “quickest hook” I mean bad run on Showtime at the Apollo quick. You could see DeAndre glance towards the bench during Robin Lopez’s free throws to see if he was going to be pulled.
But. He. Did. Not. Get. Pulled.
Again, it’s preseason. It’s preseason. It’s preseason. (Let me say again: Preseason). These games don’t matter, and whether DJ fouls out or not certainly doesn’t matter. But Doc Rivers left Jordan in for a solid seven minutes in the first quarter.
1Q 4:58 Byron Mullens enters the game for DeAndre Jordan.
And then Doc brought him back at a typical juncture for a starter.
2Q 6:16 Jordan enters the game for Ryan Hollins
Starter’s minutes, starter’s substitution pattern for DeAndre Jordan. A coach saying the right things builds the confidence in the mind. A coach showing the confidence on the court builds the trust of the heart.
– Andrew Han
Jordan’s Free Throws Woes Continues
Last season, Vinny Del Negro rationalized benching DeAndre Jordan in the fourth quarter of games by arguing that Jordan’s free throw shooting woes (career 42%) did not outweigh his defensive presence. In the first two pre-season games, Jordan shot 6/8 (75%) from the free throw line. Small sample size, sure, but immediate excitement loomed. Was this a sign of things to come?
Unfortunately, my excitement will have to hold off for a little bit longer. In the following games, Jordan shot 1/5, 1/4, and (today’s) 0/6 from the free throw line — bringing his preseason free throw percentage back down to 28%. Needless to say, Jordan’s free throw shooting is still a work in progress.
– Davis Vo
Three Lessons: Blake Looks Great, Rebounds Still Matter, and DJ Still Dunks
1. Blake looks great. The first few times Blake Griffin caught the ball at the elbow, he either hesitated or didn’t even look at the hoop. The Clippers didn’t score while this was taking place. About 4 minutes into the game, Griffin caught and popped in rhythm and drained a 16-footer. Two possessions later: another catch-and-shoot without hesitation. Same result. A minute or so after that, he tried to beat the shot clock with a floater and missed, but followed it with that pogo-stick bounciness that was everywhere in his rookie year and notably absent the last two. Griffin finished with 18 points and 6 boards in 25 minutes. Love his aggressiveness; want more of it.
2. Rebounds still matter. Look, if you’re gonna play small, you’re bound to get beat out on the boards most nights. That said, if you’re going to lose the rebounding battle, you better make your shots. It’s tough to beat anyone when you get out-rebounded 56–38. It’s far tougher when you make only one three-pointer.
3. DJ Still Dunks. DJ’s 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 blocks in 22 minutes signaled that his improved play is here to stay, at least for now. We’ll see whether he’s taken his game to the next level in April (and afterward). But, for now — even in a loss — we can take solace in knowing one thing: he didn’t forget how to dunk (not entirely).
– Patrick James