Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: This one goes to the reigning Rookie of the Year, Timberwolves SG Andrew Wiggins. For the second night in a row, Wiggins dropped 30+ points at STAPLES Center. This time, he helped the Timberwolves break a 14-game losing streak against the Clippers. Wiggins made 12-of-21 shots from the field, 3-of-5 threes, and all four free throws.
That was … too comfortable: What a fantastic January the Clippers had, one that saw Doc Rivers receive a Conference Coach of the Month award at its conclusion. Oh, but it’s February now, and what have you done for me lately? The Clippers defense fell apart late, allowing 32 points to a Timberwolves team that a. was playing their second end of a back-to-back, b. hadn’t won a road game in 2016, and c. hadn’t beaten the Clippers since 2012. Now, the Clippers go on a 4-game road trip coming off a loss, and they don’t return to STAPLES Center until February 18. That’s when they host the Spurs. The home game after that will be against the Golden State Warriors on February 20. Like Immature in ’94, Playtyme is Over.
X factor: While the visiting team’s shooting guard was getting buckets, the home team’s shooting guard was shooting blanks. J.J. Redick had arguably his worst game of the season, missing eight of nine shots and scoring only five points. Redick missed eight of nine shots the last time the Clippers and Timberwolves met up, on December 7 at Target Center, so there’s a trend here. (We’ll get to another trend later.)
— Law Murray
Tweet(s) Of The Game
— mike babcock || tmz (@michaeljb1) February 3, 2016
Wow. Foul on JJ Redick, TECHNICAL FOUL on Chris Paul…called by Lauren Holtkamp. There's history there
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) February 4, 2016
— Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU) February 4, 2016
Austin Rivers with the hoop, two technical fouls and an ejection — all in one play. 👀
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) February 4, 2016
Rubio on that clutchmeg assist to Towns: pic.twitter.com/bTP3SvY0Hk
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) February 4, 2016
Check Your Messages
DeAndre Jordan – 6’11”
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – 6’8″
Paul Pierce – 6’7″
JJ Redick – 6’4″
Chris Paul – 6’0″ (lol)
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves fielded two near-seven footers,
a point guard the size of the Clippers’ shooting guard, and a shooting guard nearly as tall as the Clippers’ nominal power forward. Small ball might be trending in the NBA, but basketball, much like football, is a game of inches – except here they’re vertical. The bigger team, by and large, wins the day. Beyond playing a much shorter roster, the Ship Gang also fields much less impressive dimensions; Andrew Wiggins boasts a SEVEN FOOT wingspan, as compared to his counterpart Redick’s much more average reach, which is about the same as his height. The Ships owe this loss as much to their inability to defend as their late game scoring drought. They’ve had trouble with bigger opponents all season. It’s just too bad height is the one thing you can’t coach.
Stop me if you heard this before: The Clippers play an uneven game, get technical fouls called on multiple players, lose a close/winnable game.
Now, mix in the factors. Down by two points, the Clippers choose to trap and go for the forced turnover rather than foul right away or fall back defensively, with a few seconds more on the game clock than shot clock at the end of regulation. The Clippers already saw Austin Rivers get ejected. Redick fouls Ricky Rubio, as he got to aggressive on the trap. Chris Paul reacts to the call in front of the referee who called the foul. Paul turns around – just as he gets slapped with a technical foul.
Of all referees, it turned out to be Lauren Holtkamp.
This time around, no one wanted to have this blow up. Doc Rivers explained that the technical foul was for an “overt clap.” Rivers also mentioned that the Clippers didn’t bring it. Paul put the loss on defense, and was very uninterested in going through last season’s drama that had folks labeling him a sexist.
Chris Paul on history with Holtkamp, "No. Mmm mmm. They done got my money already. I'm cool. My kids are in private school." #MINvsLAC
— Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU) February 4, 2016
It’s difficult for most observers to look at this situation objectively. Paul and his squad have developed such a poor reputation that an episode like Wednesday night’s invites more schadenfreude than empathy. The fact that Holtkamp is a female blurs the objectivity even more. By one measure, Holtkamp is a poorly reviewed official. But even in a classified review, her criticism is treaded lightly. I tread lightly here as well. Criticizing officials isn’t something I’m interested in. I’m also not interested in protecting an official when it’s unwarranted or irrelevant. It’s never a good thing for an official to be known more for conflict than consistency, and now Holtkamp and Paul have crossed up twice.
The Clippers, and Paul as a captain, have to find a way to be better with their emotional awareness. They cannot be absolved for giving points away on a regular basis.
At the same time, it shouldn’t be a question as to whether or not an official is objective. Once is an occurrence. Twice is a trend. Three times would be a problem. The Clippers may have a poor reputation, but let’s keep it 100 – does that poor reputation mean that the team also deserves to be officiated differently at the end of games?