Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: The Clippers have one All-Star – as Chris Paul goes, so goes the team. Paul was miserable in the first quarter of this game, missing all seven shots from the field as the Clippers scored only 15 points. But Paul made 6-of-10 field goals in the second half for 15 points, and he finished the contest with game highs of 22 points and seven assists, with only one turnover.
That was … a Florida sweep: The Clippers won in Orlando Friday, and they got themselves a win in Miami on Super Bowl Sunday. This win over the Heat marks the second year in a row that the Clippers swept the Sunshine State, and the first time since 2006-2007 that the Clippers beat the Heat twice in a season.
X factor: The Clippers need Jamal Crawford to put in work, and the volume was there again with 20 more points (on 19 shots). That’s four straight games of at least 20 points for Crawford, his longest streak of the season and tied for the longest streak by a reserve this season as well.
— Law Murray
Tweet Of The Game
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) February 7, 2016
Check Your Messages
The Clippers are going to be without SG Austin Rivers for the rest of the winter. The combo guard fractured his left hand, which makes Rivers the second player to miss time due to that injury.
But the team head coach Doc Rivers built is deep. Griffin and Rivers won’t be available, and the team gave away Josh Smith. In their places are Paul Pierce, Jeff Ayres and now Lance Stephenson.
Pierce is a placeholder who scores in double figures less than 25 percent of the time, but his willingness to shoot the three has helped Los Angeles’ perimeter-oriented adaptation this season.
Ayres is on a second 10-day contract, and he’s played all of 12 minutes this season. But at least you’re not wondering why he’s not playing, which is never the case for a player like Smith (who, by the way, is shooting 35.3 percent from the field in Houston this season).
And now with Rivers out, Stephenson naturally slides into the vacated role in the rotation. Stephenson has now made 23 of his last 28 field goal attempts (82.1 percent), and he makes up in size what he lacks in athleticism compared to Austin Rivers.
Things are working out as well as can be expected for Doc Rivers and his team. Roles are being defined, and the bench continues to perform. Today, the bench outscored that of the Heat’s 46-25.
Now, a consequence to the injuries is that you don’t have the luxury of giving a player like Chris Paul a night off. I considered Paul a lock to sit out Monday night’s game in Philadelphia before Austin Rivers broke his hand. Paul will likely have to play 30 minutes in that one. But overall, the Clippers have enough bodies to make Austin Rivers’ setback a nonfactor.
– Law Murray