Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Blake Griffin had 29 points in the first half and finished with 37 for the night. He hit jumper after jumper and was able to score no matter how many defenders or elbows the Suns threw his way.
Defining moment: A scuffle between PJ Tucker and Griffin became a shoving match on the ground. Tucker was ejected. Griffin fouled out two minutes later. The Suns cut a 14-point lead to four before ultimately succumbing.
That was … exhausting. The Clippers ran early and built a 25-point lead. The Suns fought hard to turn a sure blowout into a #LeaguePassAlert-worthy game down the stretch. This game was an honest-to-goodness battle.
– Ryan Weisert
Tweet(s) Of The Game
— Andrew Han (@andrewthehan) March 11, 2014
Blake's probably a 60 point game away from the national conversation about him changing forever
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) March 11, 2014
Everyone is talking about how Giannis is still growing, but nobody is talking about how Big Baby is growing too. Width matters.
— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) March 11, 2014
Danny Granger, still adjusting to Lob City's pace pic.twitter.com/6R0Zt3UktH
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) March 11, 2014
Most notable bit in the Clips-Suns tussle: Matt Barnes was inadvertently elbowed in the face and didn't explode.
— Rob Mahoney (@RobMahoney) March 11, 2014
The Depth Charge
|Ryan Hollins, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Hedo Turkoglu, PF||10||0-0||0-0||1-2||0||2||2||2||2||0||1||2||0||1|
|Big Baby, PF||15||1-3||0-0||0-0||0||2||2||0||0||0||1||2||-5||2|
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Fred and Andrew break down Blake Griffin’s incredible night and wonder if DeAndre Jordan can jog in leather pants.
Check Your Messages
Every now and then the Clippers leave our ordinary dimension of time (the fourth), and enter a fifth or possibly fiftieth, known as CP Time. This unique spatio-temporal phenomenon usually occurs during the last minute or so of a close game. There’s no doubt that Paul is a great closer, but it became obvious tonight that the baseball analogy is a little too accurate: you don’t bring your closer in in the seventh; you wait until the ninth. And tonight the Clips had to go to CP Time too early.
The game got close because the Clippers’ energy waned and the Suns improved their defense on Griffin (his fifth and sixth fouls were both offensive). There were no more easy baskets coming off Griffin double-teams, the set plays weren’t clicking, and the Suns got hot. So Paul tried to take over for the last three minutes. The result was an unintentional bank shot, and missed mid- to long-range jumpers that led to Suns fast break points. Of course, thanks to Griffin’s brilliance through three quarters, and the new bench guys’ solid efforts at both ends — two steals and competent pick and roll defense from Granger and Hedo — the Suns faced an 18 point deficit. So the late game jitters went unpunished this time. But it might be better if Paul stays in the bullpen a little longer in the future.
- J.D. Evans
The New Lawler’s Law
“First one to 100 wins. It’s … the Law.”
The Clippers hit Lawler’s Law again, as they have in every one of their eight straight wins. This time, it was a 112-105 home win over their division rival Phoenix Suns. The Clippers were up by as many as 25 points in this game, and when they hit the century mark on a Matt Barnes layup, the lead was 101-80 with 8:41 left in the fourth quarter.
Of course, craziness ensued, keeping the home crowd from leaving early. P.J. Tucker was ejected. Blake Griffin stayed in the game after taking an honorary Gortat … but had a disappointing end to his night anyway when he fouled out with 3:23 left. Most notably, the Suns went on a 25-8 run to cut the lead to four with about 32 seconds left.
The Clippers survived, and perhaps they knew they would even before they hit Lawler’s Law. That’s because they have established a new Lawler’s Law during their league-high eight-game winning streak: taking a lead into the fourth quarter.
The last time the Clippers didn’t have a lead at the end of three was at Memphis on Feb. 21. That was the last Clippers loss, and the last time they were held under 100. Since then, they’ve scored at least 74 points by the end of three, holding at least a one-point lead. Tonight, they had 90 at the end of three and led by 14.
Complete games can be subjective, and it’s better to just win the game than to nitpick on the Clippers’ occasional sloppiness at the end of those wins. Unlike Mortal Kombat, you don’t get extra points for flawless victories in the NBA. But the mark on this winning streak has definitely been established with the way the Clippers take control of games before the money quarter. Oh me oh my.
- Lawrence Murray
Screen And D
All season, we’ve talked about the Clippers’ need for an effective third big man. We based our argument around the defensive side of the ball, because, let’s face it, the Clipper defense took a major dive with Ryan Hollins acting as an anchor. But since the acquisition of Big Baby Davis, the second-unit offense has started to look better, too.
That’s not just because Davis is a more skilled offensive player than Hollins, but also because of his screen setting. A guy who can set solid picks is something the second-unit offense has missed all season. Now, it has that guy, and if the Clippers do ever return to full health, having that screen setter will make Jamal Crawford’s and Darren Collison’s lives much easier.
- Fred Katz
Speaking Without Speaking
Even as he got off to his blistering start of 22 first-quarter points, all did not seem to be sitting well with Blake Griffin. Some of the same frustration with both himself and others (notably Darren Collison, who seems to have been assigned a Mario Chalmers-like role as a verbal punching bag for the rest of the roster) seen in the second half against against Atlanta on Saturday had carried over. A slumped shoulder, a dismissive wave, followed by a mournful look to the sky. Against Atlanta, the turnovers and missed free throws gave the perfect explanation for this exasperation. But why tonight, as he drained jumper after jumper, and got the the basket and the line with repeated ease?
In light of this discontent, it wasn’t exactly a surprise that things escalated. Though the fault was all on P.J. Tucker, Griffin has seemed in an exceptionally edgy headspace for much of the season. Maybe it’s because of the way the opposition targets his temper. Maybe he has simply been internalizing more in an effort to reduce the volume and frequency of his complaints to officials. Or maybe the key to his growth as a player this year is the recognition that he has to live on the thin line between intensity and anger. But whatever the cause, Griffin’s body language is just another item that makes him the most consistently watchable player in the NBA.
- Seth Partnow
Ferris Clippers’ Day Off
A priori it would seem that an older team would struggle with less rest, and a younger team might still have relatively fresh legs on the second night of a back-to-back. The Clippers, however, have a young core but have struggled to a 6-7 record on the second night of consecutive basketball. When, on the other hand, they have just one night off in between games, they are now 31-8.
They certainly looked fresh out of the gate tonight, racing out to an 11-point lead after one quarter and widening that gap to 17 by halftime. They engaged the Suns in a track meet and won, thanks in large part to a crispness and hustle that has characterized their play during this winning streak (which, not coincidentally, has matched up pretty closely with a stretch of extra rest).
Whether their success with basketball on alternating nights (and struggles on consecutive nights) means that the Clippers’ relatively old role players are essential to their success (yes, definitely) or that their younger centerpieces need a bit more time to recover than might be expected (yes, probably) is irrelevant because of one heartening fact — there are no back-to-backs in the playoffs. When it matters, the Clippers will be playing just about every game in that beautiful one-day-off window.
- Ben Mesirow