Los Angeles Clippers
Oklahoma City Thunder
MVP: Chris Paul. Paul barely missed out on a triple-double, finishing with 18 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, helping the Clippers hold off Kevin Durant and his 42 points.
X factors: Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes. The Clippers’ off-the-bench crew combined for 60 points on 21-for-34 shooting (including 11 made threes), helping propel L.A. to a win as members of the starting lineup.
That was … exciting: 78 points scored in the second quarter. 139 points scored in the first half. 243 points scored in the game. 25 total 3-pointers made. Let’s just all hope we get to see these two teams meet in the postseason.
— Fred Katz
Tweet(s) of the Night
The Clippers offense is incredible with even just one of their guys able to hit 3s.
— (Andrew Han) (@andrewthehan) February 23, 2014
This would be a fun WCF.
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) February 23, 2014
Best win of the season for the Clippers. On the road, against the league's best team, national spotlight, coming off a tough loss.
— D.J. Foster (@fosterdj) February 23, 2014
The Depth Charge
|Ryan Hollins, C||5||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||1||1||-10||0|
|Hedo Turkoglu, PF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Andrew and Fred discuss Blake Griffin’s “off game”, the MVP of today’s matchup, the Clippers’ rotation going forward and the Big Baby signing.
Check Your Messages
6:40 left in the fourth quarter: Doc Rivers just put foul plagued Blake Griffin back in the game to guard Derek Fisher, who promptly hits his fifth three-pointer. It seemed much too risky for so little potential reward. Griffin had little other than foul trouble and mutual dirtiness with Ibaka all game. We’ll see what happens after these messages.
Evil snowmen lay waste to the city and surround a family that’s safe inside this one particular brand of car.
What happened next:
i) Blake makes a pass to Barnes for a lay-up.
ii) He backs Durant in, kicks out to Paul for a three.
iii) His hustle forces OKC to knock a defensive board out of bounds.
iv) More hustle yields an Ibaka loose ball foul.
v) He draws a foul and makes both free throws. After a Crawford three makes it a four point Clippers lead, OKC takes a timeout.
More evil snowmen.
And we’re back:
vi) Griffin grabs a defensive rebound.
vii) He grabs another one.
vii) Ibaka jumps over Griffin’s back, allowing Blake to seal the game with two free throws.
Unofficial stats: 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists.
The story is simple: on the road against the West’s best team, Blake was a really, really heavy magnet. He drew defenders, the ball, fouls and he warped space so his teammates got easier shots. Griffin looked fatigued, he looked unimpressed, he looked angry and none of it mattered; his team was going to win this game. The Clippers now have two players with the kind of competitive spirit you usually only find in evil snowmen.
– J.D. Evans
Doc’s True Colors
A seemingly insignificant moment can speak volumes to a person’s character. For Doc Rivers, that moment was at the end of the first quarter when the refs whistled Reggie Bullock for a foul on Kevin Durant. Doc could’ve shrugged it off–there were only 26 seconds left. Instead, he voiced his disagreement, claiming a tech on behalf of his rookie. Bullock is no key player. Heck, he’s not even a role player right now. Yet Rivers adamantly stuck up for him.
Although it feels like ages ago, Doc won the Coach of the Year award in the 1999-00 season, then reaffirmed himself with the acquiescence of three superstars 2007-08. A skilled coach can will his team to wins in close quarters, as demonstrated by today’s W over OKC — come playoffs, don’t count the Clips out until the buzzer sounds.
– Alysha Tsuji
Maybe Jared Dudley shouldn’t be coming off the bench. Maybe we’ve had it all wrong.
At this point, Matt Barnes is the superior player to Dudley. That seems like a given with the opposite directions in which the two of them are heading. But remember, starting doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being rewarded for fine play. Sometimes, it’s just about meshing with your teammates.
Dudley was “slumping” earlier in the season, but still managed to shoot 45 percent from the field and 38 percent from three in his starts. Off the bench, though, it’s been completely different. He’s at 40 percent from the floor. He’s at 23 percent from long range. And he’d not getting all those open looks playing with inferior shot creators to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
Dudley’s 15 games off the bench have all been grouped together so it’s possible that this is just some kind of super-extended cold streak. Maybe he’s just in a far-too-long slump. But realistically, we’re seeing reasons as to why Dudley can’t succeed as much off the bench as he could in the starting lineup.
You don’t have to play Dudley any more minutes. Treat him like Vinny Del Negro treated Willie Green last season. This isn’t about playing time. It’s about putting guys in more comfortable positions to succeed. Right now, with Dudley struggling to play without facilitators, the Clippers’ bench needs a serious infusion of points and energy.
– Fred Katz
Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook represent the position’s two dominant archetypes, the distributor and the slasher. And the way they guide their team’s offense invariably dissimilar. This has been evident in the divergent ways each bounced back from a prolonged injury.
In five games since his return from a shoulder injury, Paul has equaled his season assist average of 11, though he’s averaged just over 14 points in that time. On the other hand, in Westbrook’s two games back, he’s averaged just four assists compared to a season average of six, while also seeing his scoring depressed.
Even when accounting for his limited minutes since returning from a knee injury, Westbrook still seems to have a poor gauge of his own ability to contribute in his current state. He’s shooting 28 percent from the field on 24 total shots in those two games. The efficiency is down. Paul, meanwhile, has shot about in line with his percentages on the season.
While a player’s first first few games after injury shouldn’t impact his larger body of work, this particular instance allows for some insight into the expectations of the varying point guard breed.
– Michael Shagrin
Results Trumping The Process
We here at ClipperBlog constantly preach the “process over results” mantra. Sometimes, however, the process is thrown out, and we can only judge an outcome based on the result. Today was one of those instances.
Today’s process wasn’t sustainable or realistic — Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and DeAndre Jordan had outlier offensive performances, and the Clippers somehow found a way to beat the Thunder in OKC despite allowing them to score over 115 points (OKC’s highest point total in a loss this season) — yet the result more than made up for it. The Clippers have a handful of “moral losses” against really good teams this season; it was time for an ugly win.
With the W, the Clippers avoided losing their third straight game for the first time this season and took a 2-1 lead in the season series with OKC. More importantly, they remain in the thick of the hunt for the West’s three-seed (and possibly higher), and kept their distance from Phoenix and Golden State. Even if they had to muck up their game plan to beat the Thunder, a win simply mattered more.
Overall, the incremental process of the Clippers’ journey toward a deep playoff run matters much more than any short-term result (i.e. regular season wins). Yet basketball, after all, is ultimately about wins and losses, and the Clippers will take a win like this any day.
– Jovan Buha