Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: LeBron James was out in full force tonight. His quick decisions accounted for Miami’s flawless ball movement: 33 assists to 41 goals, in total. The reigning MVP contributed directly to 12 of those while pouring in 31 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
LVP: The Clippers are razor-thin in terms of wing depth, so with J.J. Redick missing, they looked to Jared Dudley for floor spacing. He was noticeably out of rhythm, going 1-for-5 on the night and missing all three of his attempts beyond the arc. Down the stretch, Doc Rivers opted to stay with Matt Barnes.
That was … high flying. LeBron and Dwyane Wade were dunking all over the competition — Birdman even soared for some lobs. For L.A., Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were up to their usual Lob City antics. The game was so exhilarating, in fact, that Griffin’s 43 points, 15 rebounds and six assists are basically a footnote.
— Seerat Sohi
Tweet(s) of the Night
Blake Griffin defending LeBron James. Enjoy.
— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) February 6, 2014
— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) February 6, 2014
Also, Machine is one of the best nicknames in tertiary rotation player history.
— netw3rk (@netw3rk) February 6, 2014
J.J. Redick would be useful here. Also, Chris Paul.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) February 6, 2014
Game of the Year.
— Myles Brown (@mdotbrown) February 6, 2014
The Depth Charge
|Byron Mullens, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Ryan Hollins, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Antawn Jamison, PF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Hedo Turkoglu, PF||2||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||-6||0|
No shot chart tonight (!), so enjoy this video of Hedo Turkoglu breaking his own ankles:
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders joins Andrew to discuss positive takeaways from tonight’s loss, Blake Griffin aggressively looking for his shot, and which teams the Clippers best match up with in the postseason.
Check Your Messages
Morals without the Victory
The Los Angeles Clippers don’t subscribe to the idea of moral victories, at least not vocally, but the vibe around the team after the 116-112 loss to Miami Heat was comparatively rosy for a team that lost on its home floor and didn’t have one of the four best records in the Western Conference for the first time in well over a month. The Clippers weren’t happy about the turnovers and the defense, but they’d wanted a tempo game against Miami and they’d accomplished that. They wanted to keep the ball moving against Miami’s pressure in the half court, and they nailed that task as well.
– Kevin Arnovitz, for TrueHoop
The Unguardable Blake Griffin
You used to be able to single-team Blake Griffin in the post and you’d be all right on the defensive end. Eventually, Griffin’s game progressed to where you needed to double-team him in the low post.
Now, though, look at what happens to teams who double Griffin in the post. The Mavs go for hard doubles in a mid-January game, and Griffin finishes with 23 points and eight assists during a game in which the Clippers’ offense couldn’t have run any smoother. Then, Blake starts making other teams pay for their double teaming.
Wednesday, Miami was so committed to doubling Griffin that it even sent second defenders onto him when he was LeBron James’s assignment. That’s a step beyond dominant. It’s unstoppable, unguardable. LeBron doesn’t need help unless he’s guarding someone of that upper-echelon stature. And after finishing with 43 points, 15 rebounds, and six assists in an eventual loss, it seems like that’s exactly what the Heat think Griffin is: unguardable.
– Fred Katz
The Depth Deficit
With Paul already sidelined and Redick a late scratch, the Clippers’ bench was depleted. Rather than rely on certain reserves to surprise him (Antawn Jamison, Hedo Turkoglu or Sasha Vujacic … nope) Doc Rivers opted to play the starters heavy minutes, essentially going with a seven-man rotation. Crawford played 46 minutes, Griffin logged 42 and every other starter topped 40 except for Collison, who turned in a not-too-shabby 38. And all minutes are not created equal. These were minutes spent chasing around the likes of James and Miami’s other speedsters.
The starters performed beyond admirably, but the fatigue showed. It can at least partially explain how the Clippers were outshot by nearly 10 percent from the field and how LAC committed 20 turnovers, many of them careless. Although the Clippers only committed two fourth-quarter turnovers and utilized offensive boards and second-chance points to roar back in the fourth quarter, their earlier turnovers could not be taken back after putting them in such a deep hole. Miami, who won by four, beat the Clippers in points off turnovers by a margin of seven, 25-18. It’s no secret that turning the ball over is extra costly against a team like the Heat, who lead the league with 19.6 points off turnovers per game.
– Aaron Fischman
What Is Basketball, Even?
Wow. That was a visceral delight. Really, I don’t want to do this game the injustice of trying to define it with real analysis— or real words, even. Mid-season basketball can be a monotonous affair, especially when the Eastern Conference looks more like the Big East. Tonight, Blake Griffin and LeBron James broke that monotony.
But high entertainment is commonplace from these two. From LeBron, we expect much more. He’s the engine that makes the Heat go. Did anyone else notice a striking resemblance between Blake Griffin and LeBron James tonight?
– Seerat Sohi
This season, and especially since Chris Paul went down with his shoulder injury, we’ve grown accustomed to Blake Griffin’s expanded offensive repertoire, namely his steadier mid-range game and improved free-throw percentage. It’s not uncommon for Griffin to take 4-5 18-foot jump-shots in a game now, and, more notably, such an occurrence is no longer something that makes a Clipper fan cringe. Progress is progress.
Against Miami tonight, Blake scored 22 points in the first half for the second game in a row, en route to a personal season high 43. You’d think given such a high number, and what with the team’s starting backcourt missing and the offensive load falling to Griffin and a freewheeling Jordan Crawford, Blake might’ve taken any and every shot available, including a boatload of those mid-range jumpers opponents happily concede.
Instead, tonight, Griffin got six buckets off conventional post moves, six buckets off offensive rebound put-backs, two on transition alley-oops, a handful of free throws, one 18-footer when Chris Bosh sagged into the lane, and the 3-pointer with 18 seconds left. Blake would have likely scored more in the paint, except on at least three occasions, he beat Bosh off the dribble only to meet Chris Andersen or Greg Oden immediately.
And that’s the rub, I suppose: Bosh couldn’t handle Blake one-on-one, and Miami sent double-teams his way all night – it didn’t matter. The Heat dispatched their cooler, LeBron, a guy as tall and burly as Griffin and a savvy defender, and that didn’t matter either. Blake got what he wanted, where he wanted it, for 42 minutes. Against the champs, carrying a wounded team, it just wasn’t quite enough.
– Luke Laubhan
Tell me if this sounds at all familiar.
24 years old, about 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9. Roughly 250 pounds. Stronger and faster than just about everyone. Phenomenal basketball IQ. Highly skilled, but often criticized for what he can’t do instead of appreciated for what he does.
That’s Blake Griffin.
And at one point, that was LeBron James, too.
The parallels between Griffin and James have never been clearer than they were during the Miami Heat’s 116-112 victory over the shorthanded Los Angeles Clippers.
Maybe we just had to see Griffin and James next to each other, sizing each other up, going at each other throughout multiple points in the game, trading dunks and jumpers and perfect cross-court skip passes.
Or perhaps it’s because Griffin, without Chris Paul or J.J. Redick, was playing the role of a one-man offensive wrecking crew; a role James occupied for many years during his time in Cleveland.
Then again, it could have been the raw numbers that triggered the comparison. Griffin’s 43 point, 15 rebound and 6 assist line is the type that sends off alarms in your brain and makes you start the search for other players who are capable of doing such things. But LeBron, surprisingly, has never had a game like this.
All the similarities and comparisons beg the question: what would Griffin look like if he came up like LeBron did?
– D.J. Foster, at ProBasketballTalk.com