Los Angeles Clippers
No Daily Dime tonight.
Tweet of the Night
Why, DeMarcus? Why? https://t.co/ArBYNj7QQV
— The Traveling Crab (@crabdribbles) November 23, 2013
The Depth Charge
|Byron Mullens, C||7||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||3||-3||0|
|Ryan Hollins, C||9||2-2||0-0||0-0||0||4||4||0||0||1||2||1||+3||4|
|Antawn Jamison, PF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
No ClipperBlog Live tonight. We’ll be back tomorrow vs. the Chicago Bulls.
Check Your Messages
Relying on Divine Intervention
Christopher Emmanuel Paul. Dude’s the point god. Everyone knows it by now. But can we stop making him prove it? Please?
Every time he goes out and saves the day, it only reinforces the casualness that the Clippers seem to espouse. Twenty point leads don’t just disappear against inferior teams due to random chance. Paul’s presence lends itself to a fatalistic perspective about the outcome against teams below a certain quality.
It won’t succeed at near the same rate in the playoffs when a lanky wing is locking down Paul in crunch time. It won’t succeed at near the same rate if Paul has to play recklessly and draw fouls in the lane, potentially resulting in injury (see knee-to-knee contact with DeMarcus Cousins on the final play). But most importantly, it doesn’t have to work this way.
Shades of the lockout season are reemerging, when Chris Paul had to descend upon crunch time and pluck victory from rolling doom. A troublesome omen.
- Michael Shagrin
Containing the Super-Sub
Isaiah Thomas has arguably been the Kings’ best player this season without even starting a single game. And for all intents and purposes, Mike Malone treated him as the starting point guard today, giving the 5-foot-9 southpaw 33 minutes compared to actual starter Greivis Vasquez’s 15 minutes. Although Thomas recorded 22 points and five assists, the Clippers did a much better job of sticking with him compared to Nov. 1 in Sacramento when he dropped 29 points on 9-of-13 shooting; at least half of his shots today were closely contested.
Thomas made some awfully tough shots, including a few impressive running floaters, but limiting him to 5-of-12 from the floor should be considered a success. With his blazing speed, even one step gained as a result of a pick, gives Thomas an edge against opposing defenses. Today, he got by Darren Collison or Chris Paul and into the teeth of the defense at times. His quickness also enabled him to earn 13 free throws. While Thomas’ name may not instantly garner league-wide acclaim, it’s certainly true that the Clippers will be satisfied with containing him today.
- Aaron Fischman
One of Those Days
Today, Blake Griffin didn’t have it. Uninvolved early, Griffin had as many fouls and turnovers (8) as points and rebounds (8) at halftime. He didn’t register a field goal until 6:41 remaining in the third quarter, and his lone highlight entering the fourth was a rare corner 3. Blake’s malaise seemed to stem from some combination of the Kings’ physical frontcourt and the sort of apathy typically associated with 12:30 pm games.
As reported during the telecast, Doc challenged Blake to play through the frustration in the final 10 minutes, and Chris Paul exhorted Griffin to shoot quicker. On a few plays, Blake flashed increased effort, batting out a rebound and driving decisively for a near and-1, but his rotations remained two steps too late, he and Paul collided on a botched pick-and-roll, and his offense devolved into throwing the ball off opposing players.
Griffin’s final box score actually looked OK: 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists (to go with six turnovers and five fouls). But it didn’t reflect the standard Blake has set for himself this season, and it represented a disappointing effort from a player who still has something to prove as a team leader and crunch-time performer. You’re not always going to have it, but when you don’t, you have to demonstrate your determination to get it back.
- Luke Laubhan
I Make ‘Em When I Need To
Remember how Shaquille O’Neal, a woeful free-throw shooter back in his day, used to refer to his subpar production at the charity stripe?
“I make ‘em when I need to.”
Shaq always says that. It’s his way of showing off his “clutchness”, that he’s tough under pressure. Well, Saturday, the Clippers’ defense took a Shaq-like approach to the game.
The Clips got recked on the boards, missed rotations and generally struggled on the defensive end again, but with a 103-102 lead and with only 1.9 seconds left on the clock, they got creative with their defense. The Clippers didn’t guard in the inbounds passer on that final DeMarcus Cousins shot at the buzzer. Instead, they let Jared Dudley play a sort of free safety role on the left side, and Dudley manned it well. He cut off multiple passing lanes and forced Sacramento into taking a shot it didn’t want to take – with DeAndre Jordan right there for a quality contest on a Cousins jumper.
The Clips didn’t dominate defensively, but that’s fine for now, because they made ‘em when they needed to.
- Fred Katz
The Los Angeles Clippers have notoriously struggled with early-afternoon games against inferior opponents at Staples Center the past couple of seasons.
With that in mind, coach Doc Rivers warned that he felt the Clippers would be at a disadvantage heading into Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. tilt with the Sacramento Kings.
“I always actually thought that visiting teams had the advantage in afternoon games because it takes the home team out of their norm,” Rivers said prior to the game. “The visiting team is already out of their norm — they’re on the road. So I’ve always felt that way.”
After blowing a 20-point first-half lead, the Clippers found themselves with their backs against the wall.
They had no discernible answer for DeMarcus Cousins’ dominant post play (23 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists) and Isaiah Thomas’ crafty penetration out of pick-and-rolls (22 points, five assists) throughout the second half, and their once-scorching shooting had considerably cooled off.
Enter Chris Paul, the closer.
Paul scored six points in the final 1:29 — including the game-clinching free throw with two seconds left — to erase the Kings’ three-point lead. Sacramento had one last chance to win the game, but Cousins’ contested 16-foot jumper fell short and the Clippers prevailed 103-102.
- Jovan Buha, via ESPN LA
Read and React
Instead of going with a generic defensive scheme to stop any potential option the Kings threw at them, Rivers tailored the Clippers’ final defensive possession to thwart what he believed the Kings would run — a jumper for star big man DeMarcus Cousins.
“We predicted [the play] pretty well,” Rivers said of his bold move. “We thought the first option would be they were going to try to go from out of bounds to Cousins. That’s why we dropped [Jared] Dudley all the way back in his lap.
“Then right when they threw it up, we told him, ‘You have to take the side out of bounds.’ The side of the ball, I feel like defensively, you have to take that whole side out of the action. So the only way the ball can go is up top. And it ended up in Cousins’ hands and he had to take a tough shot.”
Cousins’ 16-foot shot fell short, air-balling, although it was unclear if DeAndre Jordan was able to block the attempt.
“I was trying to not give him contact and make it a tough shot for him,” Jordan said. “I don’t know if I touched it, but they didn’t score … but I’ll take the block.”
- Jovan Buha, via ESPN LA
Rotating to Space
Loved the way Cousins found space in the half court today. And loved the way he moved the ball when he couldn't.
— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) November 23, 2013
Sacramento’s bigs glided into various spots all afternoon, rarely settling on one point before flowing to the next. Good on them, but this presented a unique challenge to the Clippers’ frontcourt.
In a set play, the Kings ran a staggered high pick and roll for Isaiah Thomas, pulling both DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin all the way out to the arc. In pick and rolls, typically you can expect one big to hedge, while the other bumps the roll man, either sticking with him and alerting the other big to rotate to another man, or allowing the hedging big to recover to his own.
But in this instance, with both Clippers bigs out, neither Blake nor DeAndre knew what the order of operations was. Both would instinctively rotate back to space rather than their man because, well, their men were on the move. This isn’t the first signs of this either. Griffin has struggled in rotations when the roll man popped this season (Love, Casspi, Patterson, Lee).
Rivers has preached a lot this season about getting Blake on the move and in space to put pressure on opposing defenses. That medicine has been bitter on the other end for the Clippers though, as movement is putting pressure on their germinating defense.
- Andrew Han
I can count three instances in the first half alone where the Kings attempted to steal the outlet pass to Chris Paul; twice by Cousins (one success) and once by Thomas (successful).
It could just be an off afternoon, or teams may be starting to scout the casual outlet pass to the Clippers’ point guard. Gaffes like a stolen inbound pass can cause for stressful end-of-games in close matches. Kind of like today.
- Andrew Han
There was a nifty baseline out-of-bounds (BLOB) play in the fourth quarter. With just under four minutes left in the game, Chris Paul yelled out “41” and the Clippers went to work:
Chris Paul had the ball on the baseline, with Griffin on the low block, Redick at high block and DeAndre at the nail. Griffin essentially blocks his man into the paint while Redick sets a pick for Jordan. Concerned with losing Redick on a curl, Salmons locks and trails, which gives DeAndre enough daylight to streak straight down the left key for a potential dunk.
DeAndre ultimately gets fouled, but you can see the balance in the design; Crawford is the safety valve, and Griffin could either
1. set an up screen for Redick, who would be free on the opposite low block for another layup, or
2. if the opponent successfully jams DeAndre, make a quick seal on his own man for a rim attempt.
In almost every game you can hear Doc imploring his team to keep things simple. This set screams simplicity yet hints at three point blank attempts.
- Andrew Han