Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: On a night where a still-developing bench struck fear in the hearts of Clipper Nation, a fantastic foursome of starters combined their forces for some scary good performances. Chris Paul terrorized to the tune of 17 points, 11 assists, and 6 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan haunted the rim on both sides with 15 points, 18 rebounds, and 7 blocks. Blake Griffin racked up 37 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists as he continued to give opposing defenses nightmares. And not to be outdone, JJ Redick shot the lights out by scoring 23 points on 8 of 9 shooting.
That was … foul: Despite holding a 19-6 edge on the offensive glass and 25 more field goal attempts than the Clippers, the Kings sent the Clippers to the line for 46 free throw attempts. Los Angeles would finish the night with a +15 advantage from the charity stripe.
X factor: Darren Collison’s speed once gave the Clippers chills, especially in transition situations and the pick and roll. He would start the second half when DeMarcus Cousins left the game with a strained achilles, and scored 11 of his 16 points in a 4th quarter where the Kings would regain the lead. Unfortunately, Collison would also make the error of intentionally fouling DeAndre Jordan under the 2-minute mark of the final frame, and the ensuing technical foul and Clippers possession would stretch a 2-point Kings deficit to 5.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) November 1, 2015
Lmao Rondo was pulling down Wes Johnson's shorts from the bench https://t.co/4StHgqzGTM
— Christmas Porzingis (@ColeyMick) November 1, 2015
Even the screw-ups become highlights https://t.co/QHC7wg1meR
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) November 1, 2015
— Isaac Lowenkron (@isaaclowenkron) November 1, 2015
Check Your Messages
Since Media Day in September, everyone on the Clippers was trying to stress the fact that the new players were going to need a lot of time to gel. Charles Barkley went the extreme route, saying it would take all season.
Thursday night, the Clippers bench had a 17-point lead entering the 4th quarter and they handled it. On Halloween, they were pumpkins.
Jamal Crawford, Josh Smith, Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson, and Austin Rivers were brutally ineffective for most of their time on the floor. That 5-man bench lineup spent only 8 minutes on the floor together, but they were outscored by 14 points in that time, recording 6 turnovers without an assist. (The starting 5 outscored the Kings by 19 points in 22 minutes.) Crawford, Smith, Pierce, Johnson and Rivers combined to shoot 5-for-20 from the field. That’s 25 percent – last year’s team had only 4 games of 25 percent shooting from the field or worse. Overall, the Kings bench outscored the Clippers bench 44-15, and outrebounded the Clippers bench 16-6. None of those 5 had a +/- above -11 in a game the Clippers won by 5 points.
It’s only 1 game. The bench allowed the starters to chill Thursday night. It’s early. It’s not like the starters needed the relief, with one guy going off for 37 and two more getting strong double-doubles. But this was a very poor performance by an entire unit, the kind that puts the jury out for just how improved the bench really is going to be to start the season.
– Law Murray
Shocks and Scares
DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins sat out the entire second half with a strained right Achilles.
Yet without their All-Star center, the Kings were able to make the game uncomfortably tight for their Halloween hosts at several times throughout the 3rd and 4th quarters. What happened?
For one thing, the Kings offseason acquisitions paid some dividends. Rajon Rondo set his clock back a few hours early, reverting back to Boston form for flashes and getting to the basket as he’d done the night before against the Lakers. He long-armed a number of steals off of lazy Clippers passes, and was generally a nuisance to the Clippers both offensively and defensively.
Rudy Gay, renowned for his poor shot selection, seemed to be wearing his “smart offensive basketball player” costume for most of the evening as well. Those long twos became open threes, and a ten-point Clipper lead transformed into a six-point deficit as quickly as you could say “trick or treat”. The Kings overwhelmed the Clippers on the offensive boards without Cousins; the big man’s absence seemed to open up enough space under the basket for rookie Cauley-Stein to assert himself and prove his worth as a more than suitable back-up option.
Then it all fell apart for the Kings and they turned back into a pumpkin, and that pumpkin was promptly carved and tossed off the Staples front porch by that neighborhood bully, Blake Griffin. He pummeled the Kings’ bigs on the interior to the tune of 37 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists on the night, while DeAndre Jordan, unfettered by having to mark bruiser Boogie, racked up another impressive double-double with 18 rebounds and 15 points.The Kings, for their part, also made a series of dumb mistakes, including intentionally fouling DJ after the 2:00 mark in the fourth period, demonstrating the dark side of the dastardly Deck-a-DJ tactic.
Ultimately, the game ended with a happy ending for the home team, but it was a pretty scary ride along the way, which is perfectly appropriate for Halloween night.
– Aaron Williams
The Ranger and the Barbarian
While pocket passes become highlight dunks when Chris Paul and Blake Griffin play the pick and roll, and lob passes become routine when DeAndre Jordan becomes Blake’s roll man, the two-man game between Blake Griffin and JJ Redick gets overlooked in comparison. It’s unfortunate, because facets of that two-man game have lead to some of the most seamless looking offense from the Clippers over the past two-plus years, not to mention being an integral part of the team’s offensive engine this Hallow’s Eve.
It’s an easy enough play to set up in primary or secondary action, yet opens up so many results. Defenders won’t go under the pick and give Redick the open shot, but chasing him through the pick proves troublesome through a combination of JJ’s perpetual motion in the halfcourt and Blake’s superb ability to set the pick. However, switching defenses to cover Redick leaves Griffin most times on the nail with a mismatch to his advantage.
Is it any wonder the two combined for 60 points tonight?
– Brandon Tomyoy