Los Angeles Clippers
Recap | Box score
No Daily Dime tonight.
Tweet(s) of the Game
Loudest arenas I've been in are Arco and Salt Lake. Poured concrete is a beautiful, reverberating thing.
— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) November 2, 2013
Blake Griffin just stopped John Salmons cold at the rim. He should get to keep his headband and beard as a trophy.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) November 2, 2013
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Jovan and D.J. run a mean two-man game in which they talk about Byron Mullens for way too long. Just don’t pay attention to the part where you can’t see D.J.’s face and the show ends awkwardly.
Check Your Messages
Don’t Call It a Unit
The bench is a problem. That might not be true come March or April. It might not even be true in a few weeks. But right now, for the Los Angeles Clippers, the bench is a major, major problem.
Mainly, that’s been because of defense. The tandem of Ryan Hollins and Byron Mullens has been a sieve down low and Darren Collison hasn’t exactly replicated Eric Bledsoe’s defensive intensity from last season. But let’s not pretend that there aren’t problems on the offensive end, as well.
In that foul-riddled third quarter, the Clippers played an almost-all-bench unit that included Blake Griffin on the floor, but instead of working the ball to Griffin in the post, or letting Blake run some pick-and-roll with Collison, the Clips kept the ball away from the best scorer they had on the floor. Some of the aversion to Griffin had to do with the fact that the Kings were double teaming (and sometimes even triple teaming) him down low. Still, that wasn’t happening every play, and the bench unit was instead settling for off-balance shots or untimely Byron Mullens 3s.
When talking about this bench unit on Nov. 1, the term “unit” is a misnomer. It’s not a unit. For now, it’s a collection of individuals. That can change. It likely will change, but until the bench learns to play together defensively and recognize mismatches on the offensive end, it is going to continue to bleed points.
– Fred Katz
State of the State
Friday night completed the Clippers’ season-opening California trifecta as the team played its first three games against its three fellow interstate and inter-division rivals. The Lakers, the Warriors and the Kings on the second night of a back-to-back — bust out some truisms about any team being able to win on a given night, but few betting folk would have put money on the lone Clipper loss coming against the Lakers.
The California teams currently make up three strata layers: The Warriors and Clippers are atop many people’s projections for the West. The Lakers are whatever the Lakers are; the team is a mess but they also have Pau Gasol and a soon-to-return Kobe Bryant. And then you have the talented and rejuvenated work-in-progress that is the Kings.
Every win counts in the crowded Western Conference. For some, wins will factor into home-court advantage and seeding in the playoffs. For others, wins will determine whether they will even sniff the postseason. Seeing each other three or four times a year, fighting for the same wins year in and year out, bad blood between fan bases — all of this speaks to how most of these four teams all dislike one another.
Going 2-for-1 for these first three games is a sign of good things to come. But the season is young, and the Clippers will need to take care of business all year when it comes to playing fellow California teams.
– Dylan Rice-Leary
The Clippers in Kingdom Come
Last season, the Clippers defense in the fourth quarters of close games was a mess. Tonight, the Clippers rolled out a Paul-Redick-Dudley-Griffin-Jordan lineup during the most crucial points of the fourth quarter. The Kings ran their offense through DeMarcus Cousins, who had a wonderful game operating from the post tonight. The result?
Minus the Kings’ final shot attempt in the closing seconds of the then already decided game, the Kings offense produced 5 points (2 of 6 from the field) and committed 2 turnovers in the final five minutes of the game. Despite this, the Clippers rotations looked a tad bit slow and they struggled to keep the Kings from scoring throughout the entire fourth quarter. You can chalk this up to fatigue, but this was not a great showing for the Clippers’ defense.
Fortunately, the Clippers’ offense bailed them out. This may be a boring result to catalog in the Clippers’ development chart, since it looked more or less like most of the Clippers’ close victories last season, but there were some positive takeaways. Doc Rivers maintained trust in his starting unit in the closing minutes of the game and was rewarded: DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin combined to shoot 6/6 from the free throw line in the closing moments of the game despite their shooting woes thus far. The Clippers have to be better on the defensive end, but a win is a win.
– Davis V
Hollins and Mullens Struggle
The Clippers’ backup big problems didn’t end up costing them the game, but they easily could have. When DeAndre Jordan was called for his fourth foul of the night midway through the quarter, L.A. held a 10-point lead. Then, things got dicey. First, Hollins came in and proceeded to play dreadfully for the next three and a half minutes, committing three fouls, a traveling violation and three in the key. Granted, DeMarcus Cousins is a tough assignment for anyone – two of those three fouls were committed on Cousins – but Hollins looked flat-out lost out there. Of course, there will be a defensive drop off when a player like Jordan sits, but the disparity between Hollins’ and Jordan’s defense was as vast as the ocean.
Having committed five fouls, himself, Hollins went to the bench with 2:33 remaining in the third quarter. Coach Rivers scolded Hollins for a good 30 seconds or more. Hollins is actually the only current Clipper Rivers had previously coached at the NBA level, so hopefully Rivers knows how to get through to him. Don’t hold your breath though. What’s scarier is that if Jordan and Hollins have to sit, Byron Mullens becomes your center. Tonight that meant against Cousins, one of the best big men around.
Hollins and Mullens combined for just three points in 23 minutes, but that doesn’t really matter. The two don’t need to score. Their combined nine fouls, four turnovers and four rebounds are much, much worse. With Rivers recently saying that Antawn Jamison is being preserved for later in the season, these two backup bigs have to improve and in a hurry. How much can they really improve is a legitimate question.
Blake Griffin is young, but a high-energy guy like him – not to mention so valuable to the team’s success – should not have to play more than 38 minutes per game. That’s what he’s done through the first three, and a huge reason for that is that cliff-like drop off when Rivers has to go to the bench. In fact, across the league, only six big men even played 35 minutes per night last season.
– Aaron Fischman
The Point God
With 9 seconds remaining on the shot clock, Blake Griffin ran to the top of the arc to set a screen for Chris Paul. Sacramento Kings forward Jason Thompson, Griffin’s defender, had no choice but to switch onto Paul. As both Thompson and Isaiah Thomas, Paul’s defender, began to close out on him, Paul quickly picked up his dribble and passed to J.J. Redick on the left wing.
Redick fired the ball right back to Paul, who took two dribbles to his right, stepped back and pulled up for a 3-pointer from 27 feet. Splash. The visiting Clippers regained the lead 93-92 after momentarily losing it amid the Kings’ second-half run. More importantly, they never relinquished it, prevailing 110-101 Friday night.
– Jovan Buha over at ESPN LA