Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: The bench had one of their best performances of the season tonight, tallying 54 points on 19-36 shooting. Jamal Crawford led the way on the second unit by scoring 21 of those points on 9-12 shooting, and Cole Aldrich added a season-high 13 points and 4 steals. They allowed the starters to sit for the entire fourth quarter, and each bench contributor that played over 5 minutes posted a positive net rating for the contest.
That was … Chris Paul flying high: While the win was impressive, the talk leaving this game will likely be of Chris Paul playing above the rim. It’s unlikely to see more than one dunk from Paul over the course of an entire season, so to see it twice in one game — including one occasion where he nearly puts Kelly Oubre Jr. on a poster — is a late, but welcome, Christmas gift.
X factor: While hustle stats have yet to be tallied this season in the NBA, the tenets of the statistic were on full display with the Clippers tonight. They consistently contested shots, fought for loose balls, and were active with deflections on Wizards’ ball movement.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Chris Paul's first dunk of the season. Clippers bench goes nuts. pic.twitter.com/qW1IAdHWJn
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) December 29, 2015
CHRIS PAUL DUNKED AGAIN https://t.co/Nfk1rCmKIO
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) December 29, 2015
— Ledell's Place (@LedellsPlace) December 29, 2015
Check Your Messages
It’s Nice to Meet You
Branden Dawson played three minutes, racked up two fouls, and missed his only field goal attempt in the fourth quarter of tonight’s blowout of the Washington Wizards. This is not significant in itself. What makes this noteworthy is one simple fact: it was the first time all season that Doc Rivers was able to play the rookie, making him this year’s honorary “human victory cigar”. It was the first game — ALL SEASON — that contained anything that could be reasonably classified as “garbage time”… and it was GLORIOUS.
Welcome to the league, rook. We hope to see a LOT more of you, very soon.
– Aaron Williams
It’s like a dunk-missing, free-throw-making DeAndre Jordan off the bench. Okay, so maybe he’s not really much like DJ at all but, look out — the Clippers may just have a viable back-up center (with actual center size) for the first time in a while.
Cole Aldrich played a bunch of minutes tonight with a second unit mainly made up of Crawford, Rivers, Johnson and Prigioni and instead of just doing garbage work clean up misses (which he did plenty of as well), the second unit actually looked to him on offense — especially Pablo. There were pick-and-rolls, post-ups and hard takes inside (maybe too hard, evidenced by a variety of missed dunks) but he also took advantage of repeated trips to the charity stripe (7/8). All this against the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week Marcin Gortat, mind you. On the other end of the floor he was equally disruptive, getting his hands on a bunch of loose balls and repeatedly interrupted pick-and-roll sequences between John Wall and Gortat (he was credited with 4 steals on the night). Look, Cole World isn’t one that we should get too excited about but given the fact that tonight we saw just three minutes of garbage time from Lance Stephenson and zero Josh Smith minutes, it’s nice to see an offseason acquisition finally playing a role.
– Roscoe Whalan
Jamal Crawford is a stubborn guy. Thankfully for the Clippers, he’s stubborn in an intrinsic way. In other words, he knows where he excels, understands his limitations and regardless of the aging curve, is still able to utilize his strengths. Throughout his career he’s been the impossible shot maker, a magician with the ball, and unequivocally no hesitation to score. Scorers by nature are tough creatures to change even as they advance in their careers. You can’t suddenly expect one to become a natural born passer or facilitator as a veteran if that’s never been in the DNA.
Leveraging those vintage instincts, Crawford lit up the Wizards for 21 points in just 27 minutes — on a variety of shots. The timing was perfect for a Clipper squad looking to anyone for some scoring punch. After the win at Utah, when Pierce went vintage Boston on us, it occurred to me just how deep the Clippers can be. The beauty is that it doesn’t have to be Pierce or J.J. Redick every game.
Blake Griffin’s absence changes many things in the offense. The obvious one is scoring, which is what Crawford does naturally. It was refreshing to see a version of Crawford that moved through the offense with ease — walking a fine line between pass and attack — doing it unforced, yet able to unleash vintage Jamal when needed.
– Kaveh Jam