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MVP: Clippers SG J.J. Redick is still getting over his latest back injury, and he admitted that his back issues aren’t going away and have been around for awhile. He’s frustrated with his conditioning. So it’s even more impressive that he came out firing early, taking a season-high 10 shots in the 1st half. The early aggression led to a game-high 15 1st half points, and Redick finished with only his 2nd 20-point game of the season, making 8/14 from the field and 3/3 from 3.
That was … energetic: You couldn’t help but nod to this game and think, “this is supposed to be the norm.” The Clippers are off to a rough start, and though some of the excuses are weak, the team has been consistent since Media Day in regards to how all of the new pieces will affect the team. The Clippers could have played even better – they had more turnover than New Orleans while getting outrebounded yet again – as they crushed the Pelicans for their biggest win of the season. The difference tonight compared to much of the season: energy. The Clippers brought it Friday night, from pre-game warmups to the opening tip all through the 4th quarter garbage time.
X factor: Lance Stephenson went from surprise starter to the doghouse in just a few weeks, as head coach Doc Rivers has been very conservative about using him. Wesley Johnson got the start at SF, but Stephenson played the entire 2nd quarter – it was the 1st time all season that Stephenson played a entire quarter. Stephenson responded with positive activity with both the bench unit and the starters. He played 26 minutes off the bench and had 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and a +/- of +11, the highest of any bench player Friday night.
— Law Murray
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Clippers up 23 with 90 seconds left, so DeAndre Jordan joins the Dance Cam competition during the timeout. #michaeljacksonlegkick
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) November 28, 2015
Austin Rivers just hit a 3 and looked over at the NOLA bench. He's 6'7 from the field w/ 15 points.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) November 28, 2015
The honorary Willie Green role. https://t.co/LylfHx7tYJ
— Andrew Han (@andrewthehan) November 28, 2015
Check Your Messages
Hunger for More
Doc Rivers, in the last six Clippers contests, has played Lance Stephenson a grand total of 53 minutes. This includes a game that Stephenson did not play in. This has mystified the fan base, and galvanized them into a sort of anti-Doc campaign, mainly focused around this bizarre tendency to withhold resources that he had specifically worked to acquire in the offseason – namely, Stephenson’s length, youth, and motor as a replacement for the aging Matt Barnes. What reason could this team’s coach possibly have for acting at odds with the team’s GM – who is none other than his own self? Theories have been flying: it could be Doc’s own supreme hubris, naive (possibly misplaced) confidence in the ability of Jamal Crawford to play the 3, outright stupidity.
But tonight, an alternative explanation emerged. Doc had a plan all along, a strategy that sought to utilize Stephenson’s gifts by first sharpening them to laser point. Like training a greyhound for hunting or racing, Doc has withheld minutes from his newest aquisition to instill a motivation borne of hunger. Tonight he unleashed his hound to tremendous effect. Freed from the constraints of the bench, and hankering to prove himself, Lance impacted the game from his first step on the court with exactly the level of energy the Clippers have needed during this recent, difficult stretch of mediocre play and rapidly accumulating losses. He became the catalyst that sparked the bench, allowing them to hold a lead through the second quarter, and ran with the big dogs when the starters returned to the game. Stephenson’s defense became the rallying point from which the Clippers’ offense returned to its formerly free-flowing style, as they were able to get out and run after his energy not only forced turnovers, but created opportunities as he defied the stereotype of the Ships’ wings refusing to help rebound.
Now, the obvious dark side to this effect is that maybe that hound turns around and bites you. It’s in his nature; he’s hungry and maybe you look like food. There were a number of plays toward the end of the third and early fourth where Lance’s energy backfired. He took a wild shot at the rim, falling out of bounds, then picked up a goaltending violation on a shot by Eric Gordon. It looked like the experiment was over… Until Lance finished on a running lob from Josh Smith, then returned the favor a play or two later delivering a pinpoint pass to Smith for a dunk of his own. From his play tonight, it appears as though Lance may have been Born Ready, but sometimes a little motivation goes a long way. Let’s hope he didn’t gorge himself too much; the Clippers will need his hunger to break out of this slump and return to the ranks of the league’s elite.
– Aaron Williams
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