Tonight the conversation was all about those near fisticuffs, but the lasting image should be that one-handed-touch-pass-alley-oop from Blake Griffin to DeAndre Jordan (or Griffin’s crafty, speedy fast-break layup). Sure, we saw new small-ball lineups, some decent burn for rookie Reggie Bullock, and an admirable second-half defensive showing from The Clippers — but it’s all swimming in a sea of caveats. So without further ado, let’s dive in.
Los Angeles Clippers
Oklahoma City Thunder
MVP: Blake Griffin did a little bit of everything Wednesday night, finishing with 22 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and three steals. His passing out of the high post was key to the Clippers win.
Defining moment: With only a few seconds remaining in the second quarter, Griffin and Matt Barnes got into a scuffle with Serge Ibaka. In the end, Ibaka and Barnes were ejected and the Thunder never really recovered without their best big man.
That was … worth an asterisk: Yes, the Clippers beat the Thunder, but it was on a night when Ibaka played only one half, Steven Adams and Nick Collison were in foul trouble, and Kendrick Perkins didnt play. No bigs means little success.
– Fred Katz
Tweet of the Night
According to SportVu, Matt Barnes leads the league in proximity to heated altercations within 5 seconds of the moment they start.
— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) November 13, 2013
The Depth Charge
|Byron Mullens, C||5||0–1||0-1||1-2||0||4||4||1||0||0||0||1||-8||1|
|Ryan Hollins, C||11||2-2||0-0||0-0||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||8||4|
|Antawn Jamison, PF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
On a night when the players were running hot, our Clipperblog Live crew issued some hot sports takes (not really).
Check Your Messages
Throw an asterisk on it
The Clippers looked great in the second half. That may have been their best half of the season, but we shouldn’t be too happy about it just yet. On a night when Kendrick Perkins doesn’t play, when Nick Collison and Steven Adams get into foul trouble, and when Serge Ibaka gets ejected, the Thunder won’t stand much of a chance. We saw that in the third and fourth quarters. The Clips looked good – no doubt – but the reason for why they may have been as dominant as they were was probably an external one.
– Fred Katz
No Ibaka, no problem
After Serge Ibaka’s ejection at the end of the first half, the game got a whole lot easier for the Clippers. Without a potent shot-blocker manning the paint for the Thunder, the Clippers constantly attacked the rim for easy baskets. At one point, even Jamal Crawford passed up an open catch-and-shoot 3-pointer in exchange for a layup. As the game tightened up in the 4th, the Clippers took advantage of an Ibaka-less Thunder, and scored 14 of their 28 points in the paint.
– Davis Vo
500 passes, then you shoot
With four minutes left to go in the first quarter and time dwindling down on the shot clock, Chris Paul initiated a pick-and-roll with Blake Griffin on the right side of the floor with Jamal Crawford cutting from one baseline to the other. Seconds later, Griffin was primed to take an uncontested mid-range jumper from about sixteen feet out with Crawford nowhere in sight.
Or so I thought. One Blake pump fake later, Jamal’s on the left side of my screen and ready to fire. In this young season, Griffin’s 3/13, or 23.1 percent, from 16 feet out on the left wing whereas Jamal Crawford’s shooting 71.4 percent from the left corner.
A mantra for unselfish play that manifested itself last season is now aided by greater attention to detail and elite floor spacing. The Clippers are third in the league in both the percentage of their field goals that are assisted and the number of assists they average per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com. In turn, they’re churning out the NBA’s second-best offense.
– Seerat Sohi
No third-scorer in sight
Other than Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka, not a single member of the Thunder was averaging double-figures coming into the game. And before the pre-halftime entertainment (aka the scuffle) occurred with 6.6 seconds left in the second quarter, Ibaka had made all his shots for a super-efficient 13 points. But who would step up for Oklahoma City offensively after Sir Chewbacca was ejected?
No one really did. Jeremy Lamb, the team’s fourth-leading scorer through six games, laid a goose egg, misfiring on all five of his attempts. Next-leading scorers Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha shot a combined 1-for-5 from the floor during that second half. Even Westbrook was struggling, causing Durant to score nearly half of the Thunder’s second-half points. If we exclude Durant’s numbers, the rest of the Thunder made just 6-of-21 field goals. But this is impressive (for Durant) and depressing (for OKC) at the same time: Durant racked up five second-half assists when his teammates only converted six field goals. All the while, he scored 18 points in the half, himself. After the intermission, this theatre company apparently trotted out a one-man show.
– Aaron Fischman
Let’s talk about Ryan Gomes
I’m just kidding — let’s talk about Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
It seems so simple now, but doesn’t it make sense to leverage your star power forward’s unreal coordination on the move by, well, putting him on the move some more?
If Griffin and Chris Paul didn’t feel like they were on the same page their first two seasons together, it’s because they really weren’t, at least on a philosophical level. Griffin needed to run. Paul wanted to walk.
The Clippers were the 19th fastest team in the league last season in terms of pace, but going into tonight, they ranked 6th. Paul has always had a knack for maximizing the talent around him, but by adapting a style that better suits Griffin, Paul’s unselfishness has shown up in more areas than just the assist column.
– D.J. Foster
Through nine games, the one impression I’m developing is that it’s difficult for the Clippers to steady themselves after a stumble. Be it starters, bench, or an amalgam, once the shots begin to falter or a sturdy defense suddenly becomes shaky, Los Angeles struggles to level the ship and oftentimes takes a quarter and then some to regain their footing.
It’s a trend they’ve been able to withstand early (110.8 offensive rating, 109.2 defensive rating in the first half; 107.8 offensive rating, 102.1 defensive rating in the second half), but if discontinuity between halves persists, we have to wonder how many games might be lost by way of second half stumbles.
– Andrew Han
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