Los Angeles Clippers
Portland Trail Blazers
MVP: Any doubts surrounding Blake Griffin’s offensive role now that Chris Paul has returned need to quelled. Griffin had 32 points and 10 rebounds on 13-of-21 (61.9 percent) shooting against one of the longer front-courts in the league, and continued his effectiveness from virtually every spot on the floor.
Defining Moment: Ryan Hollins hedged high on a sideline screen-and-roll, drawing a charge on Damian Lillard — his fifth foul. At the time, the Blazers led 103-100. Lillard sat the next three minutes, and the Blazers’ offense stalled. From that point on, L.A. outscored Portland 22-14.
X factor: The Blazers’ 3-point shooting (13 of 31, 41.9 percent). If not for their absurd accuracy on contested long balls, the Blazers would have lost by double-digits. They were plus-nine in 3-point makes, which made up for the free throw disparity (Clippers plus-eight).
– Jovan Buha
Soaring Over California
Tweet(s) of the Night
Congratulations, Robin Lopez. You're still alive.
— netw3rk (@netw3rk) February 13, 2014
Seems like Blake Griffin gets 30 points whenever he wants these days.
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) February 13, 2014
Nicolas Batum would have been better off punching the opponent in the junk.
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) February 13, 2014
The Depth Charge
|Byron Mullens, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Ryan Hollins, C||6||1-1||0-0||0-0||1||0||1||0||1||1||1||2||+1||2|
|Antawn Jamison, PF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Hedo Turkoglu, PF||9||1-2||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||1||0||0||0||1||+7||2|
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
By far the weirdest CBL of all-time. Let’s see: Andrew screws up the intro; he also beats up Jovan; there are random tangents about Tyler Ennis, the Clippers’ own Mt. Rushmore, and other contenders’ back-up big men; Jovan tries to trade for Spencer Hawes; Seerat and Andrew routinely disappear; and Fred is forced to end the show before any other madness ensues.
Check Your Messages
The Early Seal
What’s more fun to talk about in a close game over a seeding rival than ways to improve?
Early in the first quarter, DeAndre Jordan sprinted down the court, pinning LaMarcus Aldridge to his back in deep position and sealed. Chris Paul tossed the ball in on the fastbreak and Jordan drop-stepped, turned and dunked.
Jordan rim runs do several things: they dust slow-footed big men in transition and pull defenders into the paint for open threes. But the added dimension of a quick Jordan postup is just another wrinkle to get easy points. Something especially worth considering when packaged with the second unit. And that’s the point of improving offenses, right? To get as many easy buckets as possible?
- Andrew Han
Blazing The Wrong Way
Is Portland regression finally happening? The Blazers started the season 24-5, but are just 12-12 since. It’s that defense. It’s been unsuccessful all season, and it’s not getting much better.
Wednesday, Portland got schooled in transition, completely unable to stop the Clippers once they got out running. The defense, again, didn’t have it. The Blazers couldn’t hide Lillard. They couldn’t stop Griffin in the post. But mostly, they couldn’t stop Paul or Griffin or Barnes or Collison or whomever else from doing whatever they wanted to do on the break. That’s how L.A. can lead in fastbreak points 34-6 over the course of a game. That’s how it can pull away. And it’s how Portland can continue to lose these close games against upper-echelon teams.
- Fred Katz
The league is wrought with high-risk, high-reward defenses.
Then there’s the Portland Trail Blazers, standing squarely in opposition to the NBA’s movement to stop ball handlers at all costs. They will not trap point guards, you won’t see their big men hedging out to the three point line. It’s a low-risk, low-reward system which might actually suit their personnel, and the strategy bore some early fruit.
But over the past 13 games, they’ve completely fallen apart, giving up 108.4 points per 100 possessions. Portland’s guards aren’t strategic nor diligent when it comes to getting around screens, so they end up playing a lot of rear-view mirror defense against point guards. Against Chris Paul, that’s a sure death wish. Problem is, it’s been happening constantly. The coaching stuff won’t shake things up, no matter the personnel. Stephen Curry rocked the Blazers to the tune of 38 points and eight assists. George Hill registered a career-high 37 points, eight assists and nine rebounds. Sure, Damian Lillard is burning these guys right back but that doesn’t take away from the larger problem.
Portland’s defensive strategy isn’t going to ripen in the playoffs. If this team truly has championship aspirations, they can’t settle for an outcome that, in the best of times, achieves normalcy. The Blazers need to readjust their defensive expectations. If you’re going to get burnt anyway, why not try flying in the face of the sun?
- Seerat Sohi
The New Normal
Most of the chatter surrounding Chris Paul’s long-awaited return centered on the Point God’s potentially diminishing impact on Blake Griffin’s offensive role. With a ball-dominant floor general back in the mix, the thinking went, there would be no way for Griffin to keep up his herculean effort as a 25-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist threat every night.
Two games into the new symbiosis, Griffin is averaging 32 points on 68.6 percent shooting, 10.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Cite a small sample size all you want, but I think this dynamic is here to stay. Griffin surely will not average 32 points the rest of the season, but 25-to-27 points and a few assists per game seems reasonable. His usage rate should dip a bit, but his efficiency will remain as high as ever with CP3 feeding him easy buckets near the rim and spotting up.
The collective skepticism about Griffin’s quantum leap into the league’s elite — as in, he’s a top-10 player now — is understandable. People don’t think he can keep it up, especially with Paul around. But this is the new normal. Paul alluded to it after the game — Griffin is the team’s MVP, and Paul is trying to get out of his way. That’s not to say Paul won’t get his too (he had 20 points and 12 assists tonight, for crying out loud). It just means the pecking order has been adjusted. Griffin is no longer No. 2 or even 1B. He’s Paul’s equal.
- Jovan Buha