Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: The game started with Chris Paul swishing a contested 25-foot three pointer at the end of the shot clock, and he didn’t let off the gas pedal for the rest of the game. The star Point Guard would finish with 25 points on 11 of 19 shooting, also adding 7 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals.
That was … reliant on midrange: After a string of games where the three-point shot was on full display, the Clippers had their first game during the win streak where they struggled with the outside shot. The midrange was much kinder to them, though, where the home team made 50% of their catch and shoot jumpshots and 59.3% of their pullups.
X factor: Switching defenders on pick and rolls was on constant display in today’s contest, and to great success. The Clippers consistently forced the Hornets into attempts late in the shot clock, and forced their opponent into scoring less than 20 points in three of the four quarters of the game and holding Charlotte to 36.9% shooting over the full 48 minutes.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Paul Pierce still has some defensive game, blocks Kemba Walker on the perimeter https://t.co/x8UpVok51W
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) January 9, 2016
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) January 9, 2016
Luc is giving a relaxed, insightful postgame. He must have some baller dance moves.
— Andrew Han (@andrewthehan) January 9, 2016
Check Your Messages
Hacks On, Hacks Off
DeAndre Jordan is 23-of-42 (54.8%) from the free throw line since December 21st.
And with that, it’s entirely possible we are seeing the beginning of the end of Deck-a-Deej, or Hack-a-Dre, or whatever the hell you want to call the unfun, borderline dirty strategy of knocking around a poor-shooting big man by trailing (or leading) teams. It’s no secret that the Ship Gang’s high-flying five was never exactly automatic at the charity line. Coaches with game plans as diverse as those of Terry Stotts, Gregg Popovich, and Kevin McHale would often chuck their offensive strategies completely out the window up to 5 minutes into the clock in tight games in favor of simply having some benchwarmer wrap up the tall Texan with the goal of getting the ball back and stymying Los Angeles’ offensive juggernaut of Paul, Griffin, and Redick. In theory, it works. It gets the ball out of the hands of the Clippers’ best scorers, and forces a career 40% free throw shooter to produce the Clippers’ entire offense.
However, in practice, all it really delivers is some extremely unpretty, disgustingly extended games that, for the most part, still end in wins for Ballmer’s boys. It’s pointless, it’s ugly, it’s disrespectful to the game, and it’s rude to the fans and our after-game plans. But with DeAndre getting in SO MANY reps in game, it appears he’s finally begun to puzzle out exactly how to get the ball in the net – which is bad news for opponents who choose to give him those free opportunities going forward. A point-per-possession clip of scoring allows the Clippers to play get rest at the line, focus their energies on the defensive end, and continue outscoring their antagonist if they don’t produce on the rebounds of missed Jordan free throws.
Let’s all hope this trend continues, and DJ’s percentage continues to climb – but more than that, that opposing teams’ coaches start to notice. The sooner they do, the sooner we can put this ugly chapter behind us. And if they don’t, DJ will surely make them pay come crunchtime, which might just prove to be one of the last missing pieces of the Clippers playoffs puzzle.
The Table Setter
In basketball there’s a saying called the ‘eye test’ where sheer observation can provide some real revelation of a player or team. When that is backed up by real stats you pretty much have a strong argument either way you choose to go with it. All this is to say Chris Paul has been passing both the eye and stat test.
Paul is a natural leader that sets the table for shooters like J.J. Redick while having the penchant to drive at will and lob over the top or dish under flailing arms in traffic. Whatever the circumstance, he’s going to cause havoc by distribution — somewhat of a rare skill in todays gun-slinging NBA. Parallel to a sluggish start to the season for the Clippers was an equally lethargic Paul. In November, he averaged a pinch over eight assists a game — still an extremely good average.
But for Paul — one of the game’s truly elite playmakers at his position — it felt like something was missing. It turned out it was just Paul’s patented ability to shift momentum of games by leaving his imprint on virtually every play. As the calendar turned to December, every facet of his game was heightened. He increased his assists total by two full assists and scoring averaged jumped to 18 per game. A gradual upturn in effort and production was visibly felt from the team — likely not coincidental. What we know about Paul is he’s aggressive in attitude and court-demeanor. When that is funneled decisively into assist totals on the higher end, the Clippers become a truly difficult team to deal with.
The Maze Runner
With as much running that J.J. Redick does in each half court set, the one quality that compliments his perpetual motion is the sense that he always knows where he’s headed. Once the initial pick is set, often right below the rim, he speeds up and around through curls and side steps, losing defenders behind one, two, sometimes three teammates that form together or separately as walls.
Trying to keep up with Redick has given many a defender fits of frustration, many times as they watch him launch a shot from the other side of a pick. This was no different for Jeremy Lin today, who had to watch Redick make his first three shots as Lin chased him around the half court, and would end up fouling J.J. the next time around in attempt to get around yet another pick.
With 5:37 left in the fourth quarter, Lin found a familiar defensive assignment as Redick re-entered the lineup, and soon picked up his fourth and fifth fouls of the contest while chasing around the Clippers shooting guard on the next two Clipper possessions. At risk of fouling out, Kemba Walker took on the assignment, but it didn’t take long for him to suffer a similar result: a foul on J.J. Redick in an attempt to get around a pick.