Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: For most of the 40 minutes that he was on the floor tonight, Cole Aldrich looked as if he was the best center in the NBA, using his size to box out the large Utah frontcourt for rebounds and using his soft touch to float the ball over the outstretched hands of Rudy Gobert. He’d finish the night with 21 points, 18 points and 5 steals, but no sequence of his was more critical than a late game block of Rodney Hood to secure the last possession of the 4th quarter, which he sent to overtime on a rebound and putback of his own late game shot.
That was … a split squad: With six players not making the trip to Utah, the Clippers suited up just one player over the minimum with a roster of nine. For the most part, the roster delivered; Pablo Prigioni had his first double-digit scoring game of the season, and Paul Pierce had his second highest scoring game of the year behind only his previous game in Utah.
X factor: With the game winning three in overtime, Jamal Crawford has now scored 30 points or more in four of the five games he has started this season.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Doc Rivers is pretty good at getting mediocre players to play at their absolute best.
— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) April 9, 2016
— DeAndre Jordan (@deandrejordan6) April 9, 2016
wow great team win!! if @JCrossover isn't 6th man of the year I don't know who is!
— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) April 9, 2016
— Chris Paul (@CP3) April 9, 2016
Great win @LAClippers. A lot of guys stepped up and then…Fam!!!!
— JJ Redick (@JJRedick) April 9, 2016
Jamal Crawford ranks 4th in the NBA in short shot/game clock iso scoring and 2nd in FG% shooting 44%.
— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) April 9, 2016
Check Your Messages
What Are You Talking About?
… or perhaps, more appropriately: what are you saying? Rather, what did this game say, and about whom? I don’t know. I’m as stymied as anyone (it’s not like I’m some great basketball mind, after all). But for an 8-man rotation – especially one mostly comprised of what can generously be described as “pieces” – to battle a team recently returned to full strength and playing for their playoff lives to a practical standstill definitely says something. It would take a team of linguistics experts a decade to decode just what.
Jeff Green made 7 shots in a row; Jamal Crawford just barely missed out on extending his 4-point play streak yet again; Doc Rivers, for some reason beknownst only to him, deigned to pick up a technical foul over an uncalled intentional foul. Both teams fell apart in the last 5 minutes of the game, with the Clippers suffering a 4-minute drought – during which time the Jazz turned the ball over on unforced errors twice, then immediately followed up with an offensive foul/out-of-bounds violation on Hayward just inside of 2 minutes. The Clippers battled through that final 2 minutes to tie the game with 2.4 and force overtime.
So… Conclusions? What conclusions? The conclusion of this game was exciting, no doubt, but any conclusions that we can draw are murkier. The Clippers 3rd string can gut out an overtime win over a fringe playoff team? The Jazz need pieces/coach/Gordon Hayward to play beyond his abilities to edge their way into a playoff berth in the loaded West? It’s like a rap song in another language – we have no idea what it says, but maybe we don’t need to know to enjoy it while it lasts.
Jamal Crawford is incredible. 36 years old, and here he is hitting game-winning threes after 48+ minutes on the floor. 30 more points! The last player aged 36 or older to play 48+ minutes in a game and score 30+ points was Michael Jordan in 2003; Crawford became the 4th player since 1984 to accomplish this feat joining Jordan, Dale Ellis, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
It’s always good to see a team rest players AND still compete and even win. But if I may, I have an issue to bring up from the process of this game. Being that the Clippers didn’t need to pull out all the stops to win, I was expecting to see the young guys get some run – namely, 2014 1st round SG C.J. Wilcox and 2015 2nd-round F Branden Dawson.
Instead, we got 48 minutes from Crawford, 41 minutes from Pablo prigioni (who turns 39 next month), and 32 minutes from 38-year-old Paul Pierce, all season-highs.
Wilcox only got 18 minutes tonight and did nothing (2 points, 0/2 FGs). Dawson played only 2 minutes.
Tonight was a nice road win for the Clippers against a Jazz team that isn’t good (despite their press clippings and top defense) but IS fighting for a playoff spot. It’s nice to have Doc Rivers continue to show why he’s a top coach (despite his press clippings), but it’s nights like tonight that show the organization isn’t all that interested in developing the modicum of young talent that is on the roster.
An aging star on his last legs gives a performance that leads to thoughts that he might still have something left in the tank. A journeyman making a stop with the franchise having a game that leads oneself to wonder how so many other teams were willing to let him slip through their hands. A shot-happy guard hitting a late shot to seal an unexpected win against a playoff hopeful team.
The sight of it all reminds of a story that many Clipper fans have seen unfold in their time. The script seems familiar because this was the script for so many of the Clippers teams that many fans grew up watching.
In those days, games like these were the events of the season. Surprise wins from surprise performances. A Steve Blake triple-double. A Rick Brunson game winner. A Pooh Richardson buzzer-beater to notch the first win of the season in 18 attempts.
Those teams didn’t win much. Most nights after the calendar year had moved from December to January, they already had little to play for other than pride. Fans would take solace in moral victories, and look happily to the draft at the end of the year. The upset victories were validations for hope, optimism, and naivete in believing the team would be better the following year.
Just like those nights in the past, a Clippers win would change little for themselves in the standings. There was nothing preconceived in regards to what to ask of this 9-man roster, and less to draw from in terms of what their performances mean in the long term. But that’s also stands to reason why the game was so fun to watch; sometimes, it simply feels good to watch a game without the weight or pressure of expectation.