Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: DeAndre Jordan showed some flashes of finesse to his offensive game, adding a series of righty hook shots for a few scores, and all while enforcing the rim on the other side. He’d end the night with 17 points on 6 of 9 shooting, along with 11 rebounds and 4 blocks, all earned in only 27 minutes of playing time.
That was … a whoopin’: The 40 point victory was tied for third largest in franchise history for the Clippers. Like the other victories, they have all been earned with Chris Paul as a member of the team. On the other end, this was also the third largest margin of defeat in the history of the Phoenix Suns franchise.
X factor: After a 14-1 Suns run early in the 2nd quarter, it appeared that the bench might be a problem tonight. Instead, they came together in the second half of the game, letting the starters rest for the entire fourth quarter and putting up 52 points on the game.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Boy George is singing song Clipper song. One of the Queer Eye guys is taking laps and Lisa Leslie is MCing. It's like a bad fever dream.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 23, 2016
So, this happened. pic.twitter.com/GFeHym8EyS
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 23, 2016
— Isaac Lowenkron (@isaaclowenkron) February 23, 2016
Check Your Messages
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Around the halfway point of the season, the Clippers’ All Star power forward, Blake Griffin, gets injured and misses a few weeks. This prompts much fretting from basketball wonks and Clippers fans alike; their consternation mostly focuses on the team’s prospects over the next several games without their 1a (or 1b, depending on your perspective) scorer, playmaker, and court leader. Those concerns are allayed by the unexpected emergence of the Clippers’ oft-maligned, high flying center, DeAndre Jordan, who posts season and personal highs while justifying his designation as the 3rd leg of the “Big Three” by coach Doc Rivers.
You’d be forgiven here for indulging in a sensation of unnerving deja vu. Never fear, however, there is no glitch in the Matrix – this time. Rather, DeAndre Jordan is again having himself a season with his frontcourt partner out, taking advantage of his increased role to remind us that we have still only scratched the surface of his offensive potential. Tonight, the big man posted a double-double in a little less than 27 minutes (mostly in the 3rd quarter) with 17 points and 11 rebounds; the remarkable part, though, was how he accumulated those points. DJ displayed a range of offensive moves that we rarely get to see: a grown man’s post up off the right block that he finished with a jump hook from his off hand, of course a plethora of dunks, including a monster jam that carried him through Suns center Alex Len en route to the rim, and the piece de resistance: a dribble drive from the 3-point line that he finished with a right hand finger roll, recalling the recently departed Lance Stephenson in grace and athleticism.
The big man can ball, and I’m sure he relishes this opportunity to show off facets of his game he wouldn’t ordinarily get. I’m equally sure he’ll be just as glad to have his twin tower back in the back in the game, because for a professional like DeAndre, winning is everything.
What … what in the world was this?!
A 40-point victory without Blake Griffin???
I mean, hot damn, what am I supposed to add to this?
I don’t care if this was the Phoenix Suns, the Phoenix Mercury, or the Phoenix Cardinals from 1991 trying to hoop. I don’t care. Pro athletes got worked over tonight. This was only the Suns’ 5th loss in franchise history (postseason included) by 40+ points, the lowest total in the league for any team that started play prior to the merger.
This was only the 4th 40-point win for the Clippers in franchise history.
And … wait for it … the first without Blake Griffin on the floor.
Oh snap! What are they gonna say now? I mean, the Clippers dropped 124 points … and the old head Jamal only had 2! Y’all were freaking out about Uncle Jeff after a forgettable debut Saturday night – he turns around and drops 18 points in 23 minutes. Takeaways?
Look, just enjoy it fans. I can’t add anymore. Yo, they beat the Suns by 40 points though…
When the bench underperforms at they did tonight early in the second quarter, it brings up memories that are all too familiar with the struggles the Clippers have had when they go away from their starters. It was a problem all of last season, and a continuation of that problem loomed large in the early parts of this season. For a fanbase that was spoiled by Eric Bledsoe and A Tribe Called Bench, the lack of a dominant bench since those days has left the residents of Clipper Nation with trust issues when going away from the starting unit.
This current iteration of the bench has shown large strides from what the second unit was a season ago, but the early-season troubles remain a strike against them. The question is: should they?
Somehow, this Clippers bench has become the second-highest scoring bench in the NBA, only behind the Spurs. As the makeup of the unit stabilized in late-December, the bench has been able to handle a larger minutes load, and even after an off game in Toronto, they came back to finish that road trip strong, often times being the difference when the starting unit wasn’t making their shots.
Even tonight, they bounced back to have a stellar second half, stretching a 26-point lead into a 40-point victory.
With the playoffs nearing, there’s added relief in seeing that Chris Paul has only played over 35 minutes in 19 games this season compared to the 51 from a season ago. The ability to handle that extra workload doesn’t necessarily make this bench elite, but they’ve at least come to a point where they might be considered good enough.