Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: DeAndre Jordan was nearly infallible this evening on the way to his first 20-20 game of the season. Along with his 20 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, he would scored a season-high 23 points on only 7 shots.
That was … a second-half haymaker: Spurred by 18 third-quarter points by Chris Paul, the Clippers would outscore the Mavericks 46-23 from the start of the third quarter to the 8:37 mark of the fourth, when CP3 would sit out the rest of the contest. The lead would balloon as high as 32 points, with fans having left the arena long before the benches were cleared.
X factor: The Mavericks would only shoot 4-25 from beyond the arc, and their lead at halftime was helped largely by 23 first-half free throw attempts. In the second half, the Clippers were able to defend without fouling, and Dallas only had 9 more attempts from the stripe.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Doc should probably get more credit than he has for this Clippers season. Team could’ve fallen apart without Blake. It hasn’t.
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) March 8, 2016
Rick Carlisle after DeAndre Jordan's 23-point, 20-rebound night: "Now you know why we wanted him."
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 8, 2016
@CP3 playing MVP basketball since Blakes injury…enjoying watching him play
— Baron Davis (@BaronDavis) March 8, 2016
Check Your Messages
I honestly don’t know how much of it was effort, and how much was the fatigue of a 37 year-old body on the second night of a back-to-back, but somehow or another, Wes Johnson managed to significantly slow down Dirk Nowitzki throughout the third quarter. Many players would have shied away from the assignment, or overcompensated and racked up foul after foul, but Johnson simply dug in and held his ground against the much-bigger Nowitzki. He stayed with him, bothering the German’s shots in the post and on the wing – both places he does the most damage on offense.
This has been the story all season, though, quiet as it’s been kept. While many have tried to find evidence of his contributions in flashier stats like scoring and steals (he’s averaging about 7 and 1 per game, respectively), his actual value may be underrated by those measures. After all, Wes is often found playing the 4, which matches him up most often with taller, stronger players. Fortunately, he’s had the athleticism and determination to stick with it; while his efforts may not show up in the box scores, it’s his energy on defense that keeps bench forwards from doing the same. At the 8:20 mark in the 4th quarter, he used his long arms and unusually good balance to chase down an errant carom that was sailing out of bounds. The next defensive possession found him corralling a wayward pass from Barea to Parsons under the basket. He deserves so much more recognition than he gets for doing these little things, but one gets the impression that he’ll still do them either way.
Better Than 50-50
Saturday night was a frustrating, and probably embarrassing, moment for DeAndre Jordan. On one end of the floor, a weak rebounding Atlanta Hawks squad was cleaning glass on the second night of a back-to-back. On the other end, the Hawks hacked Jordan enough times to send him out of the game while they put it away.
Jordan missed ten of 17 free throws Saturday night. It was the third straight game that the Clippers lost when Jordan stepped to the line to shoot at least 17 FTs. Previously, the Clippers lost at Boston in a game where Jordan went 9-of-17 from the line. In December, Jordan went 8-for-20 in a loss at San Antonio.
Jordan had never attempted more than nine free throws in 24 career games against the Mavericks. He went 3-for-9 from the stripe in a November loss there this season, Jordan’s first after his ill-fated terms of agreement with Chandler Parsons’ squad in July. Jordan was asked after the loss to the Hawks Saturday night about the upcoming game to Dallas. Jordan was nonplussed: “It was just another game the first game … I really don’t care about it anymore.”
Jordan didn’t attempt any FTs in the 1st quarter. By the end of the 2nd quarter, the Mavericks had put Jordan on the line 13 times, exceeding the most he’d ever shot against the Mavericks. He made only six, and the Clippers trailed by two points at halftime.
But Jordan’s FT shooting was a bright spot in a 2nd half that saw the Clippers outscore the Mavericks by 21 points. Jordan made 5-of-6 2nd half FTs – but check it out. The game was tied at 63 with 5:34 left in the 3rd quarter when Jordan stepped to the line for two FTs. He missed the first. He made the second, and the rest of his 2nd half FTs from there.
Jordan finished the night with another monstrous line: 23 points, 20 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocked shots in a game-high 38 minutes. He was a reminder for all the fans in Dallas why they coveted him in the first place. And the most impressive part of the scoring for Jordan wasn’t the 6-of-7 mark from the field. It was the fact that he finished 11-of-19 from the FT line.
Relatively speaking, making 57.9 percent of 19 FTs is a milestone for Jordan. In his previous 27 games (including playoffs) where he attempted at least 13 free throws, Jordan never made more than 57.1 percent. The fact that Jordan accomplished this feat in Dallas may stick with Jordan a little longer.
Or it might not. After all, it was supposed to just be another game. It is only 57.9 percent, after all.
If It’s Up There…
Lobs to DeAndre Jordan are so common in Clippers games that they almost get taken for granted. The verticality, the posters, the sheer downward force as the ball is taken through the hoop… it’s all so ubiquitous that even when a new wrinkle is introduced to the formula, it can largely be accepted as normal.
And so it goes that the amount of alley-oops that Jordan has taken with his back to the rim is not often discussed, yet it goes to show just how versatile he is when it comes to using his uncanny athleticism. On nights like this one, it can be simply because a foul to the back as he launches himself up alters his trajectory. In almost all cases, it can be summed up that going straight up, regardless of whether the rim is in front or behind, is the fastest way to get above the rim.
It shouldn’t be understated how difficult this can all be, despite how easy DJ makes it all look. Finesse may not be the perfect word to describe it, but the savvy and body control it takes to be so accurate to the basket — regardless of whether or not he is facing the basket — is another feather in the cap of a player that is far more underrated on offense than he deserves to be.