Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Kenneth Faried only needed to play 23 minutes to leave a major imprint on the game, scoring 21 points on 10-15 shooting and pulling down 11 rebounds. That production was felt most significantly in the second quarter, when he would score 11 straight points for the Nuggets. Even without a minute played in the fourth, he would lead all scorers in the contest.
That was … inaccurate and unbalanced: The Clippers attempted a franchise-record 46 three pointers tonight, while also missing a franchise-record 33 shots from behind the arc. Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and Jamal Crawford would make 12 of 27 of those attempts for a respectable 44.4%, but the rest of the team would only make 1 of 19 for a dismal 5.3%. Only 22 of the team’s points came in the paint, compared to the 44 scored by Denver.
X factor: The Nuggets finished the second quarter on a 14-0 run, which itself was a part of a 20-3 run late in the first half that tilted the game in favor of the away team. The Clippers would get the deficit down to 2 late in the 4th quarter, but the damage had been done, as the Denver never relinquished their lead in the second half.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
#Nuggets points allowed in the first half since All Star break:
At Sac: 70
Vs. Bos: 64
Vs. Sac: 61
— Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) February 25, 2016
The Clippers shot 35.3 percent from the field, their second-worst shooting performance of the season.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 25, 2016
Don't let the #Clippers play on Wednesdays. They're 2-4 at home and 7-7 overall on hump day.
— Eric Patten (@EricPatten) February 25, 2016
Check Your Messages
Three and Fatigue
From the outset, the game felt a tad different. A bit clumsy, if you will. For a while it felt the Staples Center floor was a unique construction of quicksand for both teams. The Clippers eventually eclipsed Denver in sloppiness – perpetually slow to every loose ball, lethargic on defense, and resorting to a perimeter-heavy attack. In fact, they hoisted 46 attempts from three-point range, just three off the NBA record. Indicators of fatigue were prevalent from the jump. Of their 20 first quarter field goal attempts, a ridiculous 15 of them were hoisted from three-point land. In the fourth quarter, half of their attempts were from that distance.
With the type of season Denver is having, the Clippers shouldn’t have to play catch up against them – in a home game at that. To satisfy my own curiosity, I dug up the Nuggets defensive rating in an effort to try to piece together why the Clippers would only put up 81 points (I’m guilty – the Nuggets are not my favorite league pass team). The results: Denver is in the bottom half of the league in defensive rating (points given up per-100 possessions), again lending at least some credence to the possibility the Clippers experienced some mid-season fatigue. They never held a lead in the second half and refrained from penetrating on a consistent basis. Mucky spacing and an inability to stop the Nuggets from connecting on late back-breaking baskets made an eventual comeback futile on this night.
Over the last 5 minutes or so of the fourth quarter, the Clippers formed the proverbial freaking wall and refused to let the Nuggets anywhere near the hoop. DJ swatted shot after shot, but it wasn’t just him – Jeff Green flew in and smacked away a couple Nugget attempts on his own, one of which forced a key shot clock violation.
It turned out to be too little too late, and the Clippers mid-game dive into quicksand put them in too deep of a hole, but the impression it left was clear – Jeff Green should be starting. He still doesn’t look comfortable in the offense or scary from deep, but honestly neither do Mbah a Moute or Paul Pierce.
Even if he isn’t the offensive dynamo that he sometimes appears to be, Green brings a combination of length, athleticism, size, and spacing that none of the Clippers’ other wings can match (outside of some stretches from Wes Johnson). If he can also help DJ protect the rim, that will be significant boost for the team while Blake Griffin is out. Switching the starting lineup and adjusting the rotations a bit might be a good way to shake off some of the mid-season sloth we saw tonight, and Green is the only guy for it.