Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: For 47 minutes of the game, it looked like the Sixers would notch their first win this season against an above .500 opponent, and that was largely thanks to the play of Jerami Grant. The second-year player was active in the post and on the glass, finishing the night with 17 points on 6-7 shooting and 11 rebounds.
That was … closing out: Much of the game wasn’t pretty for the Clippers, but they consistently found ways to close quarters as well as the game. They finished the first two quarters of the game on runs of 14-4 in the first and 10-2 in the second, and closed out the overtime period by outscoring the Sixers 10-3 in extra time.
X factor: The Clippers defense in the second half helped salvage what could have been an embarrassing loss into the homeliest of wins, as they held a Sixers team that scored 59 points in the first half to only score 33 points in the second half and overtime.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Every tweet about this game probably seems made up if you’re not watching it
— Hoop76 (@Hoop_76) February 9, 2016
If the Sixers weren't the Sixers, the Clippers would be the DownBy36ers
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 9, 2016
— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 9, 2016
Check Your Messages
Is anyone else unsure why 80% shooting bundle of energy Lance Stephenson was not on the floor in the final 2 minutes of the 4th quarter of this game – or really, any other game? Stuck trailing a confident 76ers team that the Clippers should absolutely be able to beat, Doc was unable to resort to his trusty 3-guard lineup with Austin Rivers covering the 3 position. This put the defensively unreliable Crawford at the small forward position, with Luc Mbah a Moute and Wes Johnson alternating the other forward spot. This isn’t the worst proposition for the team in such a situation, but of all the 2nd string players, arguably Stephenson has been playing the best all around ball, including defensively. The Clippers won anyway, but it was a hairy situation that wasn’t improved much by the rotation decisions of the head coach.
The problem with the lineups that Doc Rivers is comfortable with playing in tight finishes is one of balance; each player provides a boost in one area, with a tremendous drop off in others. Crawford can fill it up seemingly at will but, as previously mentioned, is a defensive sieve against larger players. Mbah a Moute can shut down his opposite number, but is averaging all of 2.9 ppg this season – down from his career average of 6.5. Wes Johnson can do a bit of both, but can’t really be trusted with the ball in his hands. In these clutch situations, it would behoove Doc to start looking at his offseason project acquisition; after all, having more playmakers on the floor with size to defend, and cocksure readiness to attack in practically any given situation could only be a good thing.
I love teams that force turnovers at a high rate. Even at the pro level of basketball, teams can be overwhelmed by pressure.
For the 17th time this season, the Clippers had more than ten steals in a game tonight, swiping the 76ers 12 times in an overtime win. Tonight’s defensive performance improves the team to 12-5 when they get at least ten steals – the value of a 58-win season.
Perhaps more impressively, the Clippers are 25-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 points this season. Only the Warriors (19-0) and Spurs (38-3) have been better in such games. But what the Clippers have been the best at is road games since Christmas. They’re 12-2 in their last 14 road games – although they have a major challenge ahead of them in Boston – their last game outside of California this month.
They Say It’s A Marathon
For many runners, the last 10 kilometers of a marathon are the toughest. They may only make up 6.2 miles in comparison to the 20 miles that were run ahead of them, but given the amount of energy exerted prior, that final stretch can feel just as taxing as the larger workload that came ahead of it.
Maybe that’s why the All-Star Break is scheduled around the 60-game mark rather than the more tidy halfway point of 41. And watching the Clippers tonight, especially considering how everyone on the team has had to produce more in the wake of Griffin’s absence, one wonders if the performance here and in the immediate games before it are the signs of wearing down as they near that 20th mile.
One more stop before the break. The water is that close.