Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: No Blake Griffin? No problem. Other players picked up the slack for the Clippers. Like Darren Collison, who managed to outscore the Timberwolves by himself in the third quarter (16-15). And DeAndre Jordan, who had 11 points, 24 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Defining moment: Early in the third quarter, the Wolves were up 59-57. Then the Clips went on a 31-5 run and built themselves a 24-point lead in the period. Collison was the driving force during that scoring surge.
That was … a beatdown: Don’t let the Clippers’ margin of victory deceive you. This was a blowout in every sense of the word. The only thing the Timberwolves were able to do in the fourth quarter was make the final score respectable.
— Eddy Rivera
Tweet(s) Of The Game
OH MY GOD THE WOLVES BROADCAST JUST MENTIONED CLIPPERBLOG 3-ON-3!!
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) April 1, 2014
The Wolves blast the sound of howling wolves during opposing free throws because the sound of apathetic fans doesn't quite work.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 1, 2014
Went to a Wolves game and a Clippers’ shoot-around broke out.
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) April 1, 2014
The Depth Charge
|Ryan Hollins, C||5||0-0||0-0||1-2||0||1||1||0||1||0||0||0||-2||1|
|Hedo Turkoglu, PF||12||2-5||2-2||0-0||0||2||2||0||0||0||0||0||-4||6|
|Big Baby, PF||4||0-0||0-0||2-2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-5||2|
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Andrew, Patrick, Seth and Jovan discuss whether this should be considered a “good” win, Jared Dudley’s bounce-back game, and who’d make their All-NBA first team.
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Riding Collison’s Up-Tempo Play
Darren Collison was relentless Monday night, pushing the ball seemingly every chance he got and finding a way to shake off a first half in which most of his fast-break forays came up empty. His 16-point third quarter transformed the game from an ugly, grind-it-out battle into a one-sided affair.
In the absence of Blake Griffin, who often likes to grab a rebound and promptly lead the team in transition, Collison routinely ensured that the Clippers were playing a quick brand of ball and exploiting the Wolves’ poor transition D. While Minnesota’s apparent fatigue on the back end of a back-to-back shouldn’t be dismissed, Collison’s high motor particularly exploited that fact.
– Aaron Fischman
The Functional Three
The early season talk about the Clippers having a Big 3 in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan was greeted with justifiable mirth. But it’s less funny if you define the idea a bit more carefully: let’s say a Big 3 is the core of a team, and that those guys are expected to make up for anything that happens to go missing on a given night. If shots aren’t dropping, the Big 3 has to get to the rim. If the team can’t rebound, the Big 3 has to force turnovers (and vice versa). And if someone’s out with injury, the Big 3 has the responsibility to make up most of the deficit.
Now reconsider D.J.’s Big 3 qualifications, given that the Clippers were running without Griffin, Danny Granger, Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick. He had over a quarter of the game’s rebounds, half of the game’s blocks and forced Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and J.J. Barea drives under the basket and harmlessly out the other side with only eight minutes of rest. It helped that the entire team had the green light to jack up threes, and they made them, and there’s no mistaking Jordan’s D for Chris Bosh’s or the old Kevin Garnett’s.
But he did what James Harden and Chandler Parsons couldn’t do for the Rockets without Dwight Howard, and what Kevin Love, Rubio and Martin couldn’t do for the Wolves without Nikola Pekovic: step in for the team’s best players, and pull out the win.
– J.D. Evans
Dudley’s Pierce Impersonation
For nine seasons, Doc Rivers coached Paul Pierce in Boston. Pierce goes about 6’6″, 230 lbs. and mainly handled the small forward position — Rivers sparingly used him the four. He has played that position most of this season in Brooklyn, and surprisingly, the Nets have benefitted from rescuing a late-career Pierce from the wing.
Tonight was Jared Dudley’s first start at power forward for the Clippers. Dudley came here with modest expectations as the starting small forward. He managed to underwhelm, especially struggling to rebound and looked out of shape. Matt Barnes took over as the starter by January, and Danny Granger bumped Dudley from the rotation entirely.
But Dudley, who goes 6’7″, 225 lbs. (at least), had a triumphant return to the starting lineup. Matched up with Kevin Love, Dudley did a solid job defending Love for the most part, and found some newfound space and confidence in his jumper on his way to 16 points. He looked better than he had at any point season.
It might seem blasphemous to put Pierce and Dudley in the same sentence, but Dudley looked like a strong fit for a Clippers team that didn’t miss a beat offensively without Blake Griffin. Tonight, Dudley may have played himself into a stretch-4 role off the bench for the playoffs.
– Law Murray
The Extra Pass
Transition opportunities are tailor-made instances where ball movement is carved out of necessity. There is the temptation to simply let the ball die in the half-court, but when you outnumber your opponents and are simultaneously moving full speed ahead, there’s a need and even selfishness to make the pass leading to an open layup or three.
The Los Angeles Clippers, forced to play Jared Dudley and Matt Barnes 30-plus minutes and Reggie Bullock, Hedo Turkoglu and Willie Green 10-plus minutes, engineered more than enough movement despite the injured stars. Playing a system — despite Doc Rivers’ lack of creativity — requires continuity and experience. Eighteen turnovers is certainly a sight for sore eyes but a team that relies on Chris Paul and Blake Griffin so heavily found success in Darren Collison’s drives, Barnes’ cuts and Dudley’s situational awareness.
Say what you want about the cliche of veteran leadership but sometimes having players that are willing to make the extra swing pass, quick outlet pass and the token drive-to-a-spot-to-pass is all you need to beat a struggling Minnesota Timberwolves team. None of will matter in the postseason, but it’s a stress-free victory that didn’t use to come so easily.
– Andy Liu
With Blake Griffin out for a few days, the Clippers have to find ways to succeed without him. One very simple play was on display tonight, a straightforward pick-and-roll with Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan in semi-transition that lead to several wide-open threes.
At the 7:13 mark of the first quarter, then again at the 6:43 mark, and then once again with 5:30 to play in the first quarter, Chris Paul brought the ball across half court in semi-transition. The rest of the team was spaced around the outside, and Jordan came and set a screen for Paul at the top of the arc. Paul darted to the right elbow, one of his favorite spots, and Jordan dove to the hoop. This action sucked in not only their two defenders, but also Corey Brewer, who was guarding Matt Barnes. Seeing the defense collapse, Paul whipped the ball back up to Barnes above the break on the left wing and Barnes drained the open three.
This same routine, a high Jordan screen for Paul in semi-transition, also produced an open Collison three at the beginning of the third quarter, and another for Barnes at the end of the third quarter, among other instances.
It seems like an obvious answer, but with Griffin on the sideline and Jared Dudley in his place, the Clippers have shooting at four of the five positions. This creates a lot of space for Paul to operate, and it also gives him a wealth of options for kick-outs. Just as Griffin’s leap during Paul’s injury carried on through Paul’s return, this simple action, the interesting floor-spacing lineup, and the positive results they yield could provide a lift even when Blake comes back.
– Ben Mesirow