We’re living in the future, y’all. This was about as close we’ll get to slamball (RIP) without trampolines, because the Clippers absolutely put on a dunkfest against former ‘mates Chris Kaman and Elton Brand in a 112-90 win over the Mavericks. We are all
witnesses on posters. Highlights and more below:
Recap | Box score
MVP: Blake Griffin. He’s been more “pop” than “roll” this season after setting screens, but Griffin had plenty of runway space to be cleared for takeoff against a grounded Dallas frontcourt.
That was…ridunkulous. : The Clippers absolutely ran the Mavs out of the gym with 29 fast break points, 18 steals, and a hibernation worthy amount of lobs. Youth beat experience tonight.
X factor: Lamar Odom. You could practically hear the groans all the way from Dallas, as Odom played hard and pulled down 11 rebounds against his former team.
Tweet of the Game
According to @jadande, Kaman tried get out of the way, making it the “opposite of a photo bomb.”
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) December 6, 2012
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
ClipperBlogLive’s Best Moment
A beautiful photoshop of Eric Bledsoe and Chris Paul as Eric B and Rakim is revealed on ClipperBlogLive, and Andrew Han still won’t let us use a fun rap song for the show’s intro. Boo this man. BOO THIS MAN!
Caron Butler did what now? Oh my goodness. Run for the hills, Chris Kaman.
Check Your Messages
Let’s start with some foreplay! Ahem. Fourplay.
At times, the first half played like an All-Star weekend skills showcase, which frankly, after a longish run of forgettable performances, felt overdue and therapeutic. There was no lack of Lob City highlights: Blake and DeAndre took turns muscling and posterizing ex-Clippers Chris Kaman and Elton Brand. Jamal Crawford created the assist – yes, you read that right – assist of the year, turning a behind-the-back swoop into the lane into a perfect lob that DJ met at the rim. There was a full Air-Jordan pose for DJ, taking off from just below the foul line on a fast break. Chris Paul did that thing where he moves like Pac Man, accelerating, stopping, taking off at full speed in another direction completely, stopping, jumping straight up and sinking it. Lamar Odom did Lamar Odom things two, three, four plays in a row: finding shooters from the high post, showing off his handles. Jamal Crawford added to his NBA record for four-point plays, which also inspired Ralph Lawler to compliment Jamal’s “foreplay.” In short, we had fun tonight – which made me realize it had been a while.
America will fall in love with Lamar Odom, so long as Texas secedes
The following phrase does not have a typo: Lamar Odom had 11 rebounds Wednesday night against the Mavericks.
Dallas struggled all night in so many facets of the game, but regardless of the input from the opposition, Odom is legitimately starting to look better. He may still be missing shots, but he’s leaving the floor when he does it. No longer is his jumper flat; no longer is he consistently short on every shot. He has his legs and it feels like Odom may not be too far away from consistently making tangible contributions to this team.
Chris Paul is in your mind
I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure Chris Paul is *&%$ing with people. Like all the time. While Blake Griffin appears to be making a concerted effort to tamp down his provocations, Chris Paul is in gamesmanship overdrive. Watch him in the background during free-throws or substitutions and you’ll notice he basically never stops talking.
There was a fun sequence tonight where Paul poked the ball away from Darren Collison during a dead ball, instigating a slap-fight for control of the ball that left Collison bristling. Just to be clear – this isn’t that thing Paul also does where he yanks the ball from a guy who’s just committed a turnover with an intentionally jarring over-abruptness. Dallas had possession. There was no reason for Chris Paul to touch the ball. Like, at all. Did this play have an affect on Collison’s over-aggressive, unnecessary foul while guarding Paul 30-ft from the basket ON THE VERY NEXT PLAY? Only Chris Paul knows.
Energy conquers all
After back-to-back-to-back DNPs, Willie Green being back in the starting lineup with Chauncey Billups out wasn’t a surprise. It wasn’t wrong, necessarily, either. But by giving him 16 minutes, Vinny Del Negro all but assured that, by and large, the second unit would remain intact.
Tonight, it really worked. Griffin and Paul might have put the game away before the first sub, but they sustained. Bledsoe was magnificent on defense to keep the pressure on Dallas, Odom continued his improvement and Crawford heated up with 10 points in the 4th. As Jordan noted on ClipperBlog Live, the Chris Paul offense doesn’t work so well when Paul is on the bench, especially with Bledsoe forced to run halfcourt sets with Odom and Turiaf as his roll men. But in what is becoming their go-to move, the Clippers simply bludgeoned an over-matched opponent with relentless energy on both ends.
Early in the 4th quarter, I noticed that the offense devolved into Bledsoe sitting in the corner and Crawford basically using the shot clock to breakdown the defense. And when I went back and looked at the bench unit’s stint in the 2nd quarter, many of their possessions basically featured Crawford in the corner and Bledsoe trying to break down the defense.
When the bench struggles on offense, it’s usually when they’re trying to run a halfcourt set. The reserves are incredibly effective when causing turnovers and getting stops, usually extending leads and punishing opposing teams. But when they’re not defensive ballhawks? If Crawford isn’t hitting circus shots, they’re just as liable to give up big leads. For now, it’s feast or famine for #ATribeCalledBench.
A top to bottom effort
The first ten games of the season yielded a sense of trust in the Clippers’ deep bench that seemed to be revealed as unsustainable. Consistent success requires quality performances from both the first and second units–and that was exactly what we got tonight. The starters came out and put up big numbers, everyone was getting to their spots, and ultimately putting the ball in the basket with the immeasurable help of Chris Paul’s court vision (the point god had 13 assists).
Enter the second unit, and the quality ball continued. Jamal Crawford once again found himself enough good looks that we ought characterize his performance as efficient. The energy unit (which we’ll call Bledsoe, Barnes, Odom, and Turiaf) had a combined 9 steals, 4 blocks, and 22 rebounds (only 4 less than the starters’ 26). If the the first unit can continue to put up their gaudy numbers, Crawford can gain a relative offensive consistency, and the remaining bench units shows up with energy for every game, the Clippers will be prominently scary come April.
Kid or curmudgeon?
Tonight’s game brought on a little identity crisis for me. Watching all the highlight plays (the Bledsoe alley-oops!) made me feel like a kid again, happily dieting on dunks and crossovers and not caring about much else. But it also made me feel old — watching Elton Brand, a guy I cut my teeth on growing up, be a complete non-factor on the floor…it was something.
I know I’m annoyingly nostalgic to a fault, but seeing Brand fade into the background was like going to visit your old neighborhood, only not to recognize anything there anymore. Watching the new era Clips, a much more exciting, fast paced, highlight producing machine just pounding it home, it made me realize that these Clippers are very different, and I am not very young anymore. But just enjoying all the transition goodies the Clippers provided makes me think I’m not exactly old and crusty, either. I only know one thing for sure: When I jump three feet off the couch after an alley-oop and let out a little yelp, I know I’m alive. The Clippers arefreakin’ fun, aren’t they?