Los Angeles Clippers
Recap | Box score
MVP: Jeff Teague. It’d be hyperbolic to say that now the student has become the master, but the younger Wake Forest alum certainly got the best of his elder tonight. Teague dropped 20 points, 9 assists, and 4 steals on fellow Demon Deacon Chris Paul, and got seemingly everywhere he wanted — the Clippers’ perimeter defense never had a chance against him.
LVP: Chris Paul. Sure, he had a double-double, but Paul couldn’t stay on the floor — or have a positive impact when he was out there. His third quarter is one he’ll want to soon forget, as he failed to run his normally devastating pick-and-roll attack, died on defense when screened, and got into foul trouble.
That was … A clinic. Considering that the Clippers’ offense shines when they run high-low pick-and-rolls, you’d think they’d have some clue has to how to defend them. Not so, as the Hawks drove and kicked L.A. into submission, one open shot after the next.
– Patrick James
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Going to Clippers games is like double-dating with a couple that hates each other.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 5, 2015
Check Your Messages
Nothing to See Here
Last year, there were new themes after most every Clippers game. It was exciting to see the improvement of DeAndre Jordan throughout the season, the development of Blake Griffin’s facilitating game in a leading role, how the team could adapt with J.J. Redick out and back and out and back again. It was fun writing about — though not necessarily living through — the love/hate relationship I’d have with the Darren Collison experience. In the end, there was always a new story, some fresh meat to pick off the bone, throw on a skewer and cook up for whoever was willing to subject themselves to my ridiculous opinions.
This year, it’s been something different. What do I write about after yet another unimpressive loss to a top-tier team?
How the Clippers aren’t elite? Hasn’t been true for weeks — months, actually.
How the Clippers have defensive issues? I’ve already beaten the horse dead.
The struggles on the bench? Pretty sure we’ve gone over that one enough.
Doc the Exec killing Doc the Coach’s team? His personality has been split enough that we’re now starting to see Twitter iterations of Doc the Schemer letting down Doc the Motivator.
It’s the same story every night with the Clippers, and therein lies the problem. A team can be great or terrible or anywhere in between, but maybe the one attribute you don’t want to be is stagnant. That’s what the Clippers are right now. No new stories. No real, sustained improvement with any of their issues. They’re treading water miles away from the shore and a team so discordantly named after a boat just can’t find a way to get back to land.
– Fred Katz
Meanwhile, in Milwaukee…
When the Clippers parted ways with Jared Dudley this summer, it was, as Andrew Han puts it, something of a calculated gamble. If you thought Dudley’s disappointing 2013-14 season in L.A. was an anomaly, then keeping him would have been a safe bet, as he’d be likely to regress to his career mean (40 percent three-point shooting, decent team defense). If you thought last year was a harbinger of further decline, then trading him would have been a safe bet.
Fast forward to January, and Dudley’s shooting is up across the board from last year — 49 percent from the field, 44 percent from three, and 77 percent from the line (up from 44, 36, and 66 in 2014). On a night when the Clippers went 7-25 from deep — and after half a season with only one reliable player at small forward for L.A. — those numbers sound pretty appealing … especially considering how much the Clippers surrendered during the trade. The lesson is that a calculated gamble is still a gamble.
– Patrick James
Turned Over Instead of Turn Out
My day started with Nate Jones’s tweet about the atmosphere of Clippers games not matching up with that of Lakers games this season. It was an eye-catching statement, but not a surprising one. We at CB have mentioned all year how lukewarm Clippers games have been, and, well, Lob City sounds more like a suburb this season.
Now, I wasn’t at Staples tonight. Last time I was there was the Monday night game against the Bulls in November, and it was hella weak in there. But, you know, it’s early in the season. Monday Night Football was still on the schedule. I hate excuses, but they’re there.
And then I saw Jovan Buha’s tweet about the atmosphere tonight. I used to get on the Hawks all the time for their barely-there crowds — and after the ownership “scandal,” that observation was moved a little closer to the mainstream. But the reports of Clippers games this season have been similarly underwhelming. The energy has been stagnant.
The game itself didn’t go so well either. The Clippers turned the ball over 21 times at home against the Hawks against only 23 assists. Under Doc Rivers, the Clippers have only had four other home games of at least 21 turnovers, and this was the first time they lost one of these games. Somehow, J.J. Redick had five turnovers without an assist, a first for his career.
The Clippers next home game isn’t exactly a hometown advantage — the Lakers are under the Clippers’ lights. But the turnout for that game in the crowd will be interesting. And the Clippers better make sure the turnovers on the court are under control.
– Law Murray