Los Angeles Clippers
Recap | Box score
MVP: DeAndre Jordan. Dude had 10 rebounds and two blocks. In the first quarter. And he set the tone for the game (finishing with 19 and five). But he was more than the Clippers’ last line of defense; he was also the only Clipper to make a field goal in the game’s final two minutes.
That was … (point)god-like: Chris Paul may not be omnipotent, but he seemed to be everywhere tonight, putting up a line of 20 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. So too did Blake Griffin (24 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals). But the question isn’t whether we have faith in those two; it’s whether that’s enough for a team that gets so little from it’s bench.
X factor (of the future): Watching this game, you had to be compelled by how different the timelines look for these teams. On the one hand you have a team built to win now struggling to win at home against on a non-playoff team. On the other, you have an up-and-coming group of guys with heaps of talent and equal parts youth and flexibility. We know who won tonight, but which team feels better about the next five years?
– Patrick James
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Guy sitting between two women just got denied twice on kiss cam.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) December 29, 2014
Check Your Messages
Two Man Game
The bench has struggled all year, and I’ve often wished that Doc would change things up. Well, he did tonight, leaving Griffin in with the second unit. That’s not sustainable — be as old school as you want, you just can’t ask players to go for 40+ minutes a night anymore — but it did hint at some kind of bench offense. Until this game, they did little more than give Crawford the ball and set the odd screen. But watching Blake and Crawford play together, even passing the ball every now and then, made me wonder if the second unit could focus on a Hawes/Crawford two man game, just as the starters’ offense is based on the Paul and Griffin pick and roll. Hawes is a good passer, a solid shooter, and really should be more involved in the game than he has been so far; not asking Farmar and Bullock to do more than spot up off the ball can’t hurt. A lot has to change for this team to get home court in the first round. Solid bench offense would be a good start.
– J. D. Evans
Clips Are Who We Thought They Might Be
There was a moment in the Clippers broadcast when Ralph Lawler and Michael Smith mused on Doc Rivers’ statement of nothingness that he wasn’t worried about the team. Rather, he was more concerned as to how they’d end the season and that the Clippers were going to be who they were unless they weren’t.
In a vast cauldron of nothingness also felled this Jazz-Clippers affair. They won, in a stilted, and frankly unsurprising fashion. The entire game built towards a Rudy Gobert and Blake Griffin showdown at the rim. Griffin bulldozed and bullied his way into the paint all game long. Finally, he met not Gobert, but Enes Kanter waiting for him. Perhaps he would have dunked it last season, or perhaps not. Griffin was fouled while brilliantly shoving away Kanter’s arm with his left hand, popped back up to make the free throws, and the game trudged along.
But the Clippers, as good as they ever will be, are hoping that a close home win against the Utah Jazz doesn’t actually tell us how good they really are.
– Andy Liu
21 and 11
On December 28, 2013, the Clippers beat the Jazz at home the game after a loss to improve their record to 21-11, with Blake Griffin leading the team in scoring (with 40 points).
On December 29, 2014, the Clippers beat the Jazz at home the game after a loss to improve their record to 21-11, with Blake Griffin leading the team in scoring (with 24 points).
One of my favorite thing to do this season is track the Clippers’ progress this season compared to last season. Even the Clippers broadcasters are aware of the fact that this team is basically six-deep, and that it is the same six that were there to close last season. To me, this season has been not quite a mirror or copy/cut-paste, but definitely something from a parallel universe. There’s this feeling that the team is going through the motions. Well, a four-point win over the young Jazz won’t make those accusations go away.
But perhaps that’s not an entirely bad thing. After all, the Clippers continue to be right on pace. Although, they may not want to follow that Wednesday night against the Knicks. The Clippers lost the last game of 2013, 107-88 to the Phoenix Suns.
– Law Murray
Room and Board
Don’t look now, but this year’s DeAndre Jordan is actually outrebounding last year’s, and he has the month of December to thank.
After grabbing 19 more boards against the Jazz on Monday, D.J. is pulling down 15.9 rebounds per game in the final month of 2014. His rebound rate? A ghastly 25.7 percent. The dude has become a one-man rebounding machine and at this point in his career, might be the best guy on the glass in the world.
– Fred Katz