Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Chris Paul. Sometimes it helps having two stars. On a night when things got a little bit chippy and Blake got a little bit stroppy CP3 was there to steady the ship. From the start he took advantage of his matchup and went to work against rookie point guard Dante Exum. CP3 dropped in an equal team-high 21 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 6 assists and helped pick up a couple of crucial stops in the fourth.
That was … Fortunate: Or gross. Or sloppy, chippy, scrappy. Whatever you want to call it. But most of it all it was fortunate. With JJ Redick out the Clippers looked discombobulated offensively and on the other end of the floor they got eaten up by the Utah bigs. It wasn’t pretty but the Clippers pulled out the win in their first of eight games away from Staples as part of the annual Grammy Road Trip. As Chris Paul said post-game, “You can’t win them all without winning the first one”.
X factor: Matt Barnes. If this were Costco, he’d be Employee of the Month. Barnes had eight points in the final quarter including two threes in the space of two minutes both times helping the Clippers regain the lead. To top it off he inadvertently blocked Enes Kanter’s jump shot in what was possibly a hard foul attempt with less than a minute to go giving the Clippers the stop they need to wrap up the game.
– Roscoe Whalan
Tweets Of The Game
One day Jamal Crawford will have a camp specifically dedicated to teaching kids the art of drawing fouls behind the three-point line.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) January 29, 2015
Hi Doc Rivers – I am Joe Ingles Ingles 10 pts, 4 rebs and 7 ast
— David Locke (@Lockedonsports) January 29, 2015
Most wholesome kiss cam of all time happening now in Utah. I swear we're about to see a handshake.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) January 29, 2015
Check Your Messages
And Now for Something Somewhat Different
It’s been hard to find new and different things to write about the Clips this season. The starters are great, the bench sucks, they’ll make the playoffs and get knocked out when Spencer Hawes proves not good enough, again (rinse, repeat, repost). Plus there has been the impression of autopilot for much of the regular season, as the team is almost openly marking time until the games matter more.
But during an unglamorous Wednesday night in Utah, the Clippers found a little inspiration. Whether a welcome bit of dynamism from oft-maligned franchise scion Austin Rivers or the team, (led by Matt Barnes of course) summoning a touch of the nastiness frequently absent from the more bloodless performances, this was better. Not just a good professional win over an inferior team, but pushing through to win with something well short of the “A” game.
While a random midweek victory in January probably doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, it was at least different and pleasantly surprising. And in this season of sameness, a welcome development.
It’s been an interesting few days for Matt Barnes, the elder statesman in the Clippers’ starting lineup.
He slogged his way through a rough shooting day in Phoenix on Sunday before bouncing back the next day at home against the Nuggets. On Tuesday, Barnes was fined yet again, this time for getting into it with the Phoenix crowd. Barnes pointed the finger at Suns owner Robert Sarver, a man he doesn’t have a good history with dating back to Barnes’ time in a Suns jersey.
But I paid more attention to the abdominal injury Barnes was nursing. I don’t let folks forget that Barnes is an old man chasing around players at the most influential position in the game. The Clippers have been remarkably durable this season, with Barnes being the only starter to miss a contest due to injury.
Well, turned out J.J. Redick would miss his first game of the season. That put more pressure on Barnes to come through in his matchup with Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward. Both small forwards led their teams in minutes, with Barnes playing a game-high 41. He gutted out another decent performance, outscoring Hayward while bagging a couple more threes.
The Grammy trip is a critical one for the Clippers. Barnes’ durability will be under the microscope. This was a good start for him and the team.
– Law Murray
Jingles all the Way
Hindsight’s a wonderful thing and this case it’s probably not even a case of “I told you so” because Doc has said repeatedly he didn’t want to release Joe Ingles. Fortunes for the Aussie swingman evidently turned in his favor; he went from 16th man on the Clippers squad to starting for the Utah Jazz by mid-January. Sure, he’s by no means an answer to the Clippers woes but he can shoot the rock pretty well and is surprisingly effective on the defensive end. His basketball IQ is great.
Tonight, more than ever, with Jamal into the starting line-up for JJ Redick the dearth of talent on the Clippers’ bench was confronting. Young Austin Rivers had his best scoring effort as a Clipper dropping in a dozen but everyone else on the bench laid an egg. The second unit continues to be a debacle, it’s a small “what if” but what if Ingles had stayed, would things be any different?
– Roscoe Whalan
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