Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: A pass to J.J. Redick and a three-point prayer of his own got the Clippers started, and by the time Chris Paul sat down at the end of the third quarter, he was responsible for 22 of the 37 field goals the team made tonight. His final line: 20 points, 16 assists, and 8 rebounds.
That was … active hands: The Clippers defense was again a highlight of the team’s performance, as they held the Timberwolves to 34.5 percent over the 48 minute stretch of the game. They were swarming, rotating, and their active hands absolutely blanketed the opposition, leading to 8 steals, 9 blocks, and 16 Minnesota turnovers overall.
X factor: For the third straight game in a row, the Clippers were able to rest Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and DeAndre Jordan in the 4th quarter. It would have been a starter-less final frame if not for Paul Pierce missing the game, which meant the team was too short-handed with their forward rotation to rest replacement starter Wesley Johnson as well.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
First game all season that the #Clippers have held an opponent under 80 points. And on the road, no less.
— Brandon Tomyoy 譚定宇 (@dingyu) March 31, 2016
Solid Clipper Win. Great defense again and great job by @bsieman. I am where I belong as we mourn the death of Sweet Jo's mother.
— Ralph Lawler (@Ohmeomy) March 31, 2016
Usually try to just stay in the moment, but whenever you hear the name Bob Cousy you can't help but pay respect… #beyondhumbled
— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) March 31, 2016
The Clippers will rest Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan tomorrow night against the Thunder, sources.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) March 31, 2016
Check Your Messages
Clippers fans tuning into Wednesday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on PrimeTicket may have been dismayed to notice the absence of the familiar voice of one Ralph Lawler. The Clippers’ radio/broadcast voice since 1978 (making him one of the longest-tenured announcers in the league), Lawler missed tonight’s game due to a death in the family. This left fans with the more-than-capable voice of Brian Sieman, the play-by-play announcer for radio broadcasts on 980am (now 570am, thanks to new deal with KLAC), but without the customary cries of “Bingo!” and “Settle down, Mike Smith…” Not to worry though, Lawler is expected to rejoin the team soon, and presumably Sieman will return to his normal duties on the new station.
However, there’s a possibility that fans will have to get used to the tandem of Sieman and former Clipper Mike Smith. Ralph is age 78 this month, and there have been rumblings in each of the previous seasons of an impending retirement for the beloved broadcaster. He’s been honored by the team this season, and he even had the opportunity to put his name on a well-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame just this year. It’s probable that these are the final feathers in the cap on a storied career for the much-cherished member of the NBA family.
Fans shouldn’t fret though; Sieman and Mike Smith have been working on a strong working chemistry on those radio broadcasts when PrimeTicket has been pre-empted by national TV, and those who’ve followed their favorite team on the radio will know that he’s got a great personality all his own. His enthusiam is infectious and will no-doubt endear him to Clipper Nation if – or when – the time comes, and continue Ralph Lawler’s legacy when the torch is passed at last.
Just 10 days prior, J.J. Redick mentioned after the New Orleans loss that a player could feel when their spirit isn’t right. Four days later, Jamal Crawford said of the Portland win that a win on a buzzer-beater can energize a team. To fans and onlookers, the appearance between the former and latter performances can simply look like the difference between effort and a lack thereof.
This has always been a difficult team to identify with their constant ups and downs and erratic flips between fraught and fierce, jester and juggernaut, or bridesmaid and bride. Like Inception, it can be hard for the viewer to make out what is real and what might just be a dream.
But the light at the end of a tunnel can be a beautiful sight. With the team now towards the end of their gauntlet of back-to-back games and with the upcoming return of one of their best players, the closure of the last 44 Blake-less games might explain the recent spring in their step.
There’s technically one more game left before the return of the Flyin’ Lion, but with Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and DeAndre Jordan all set to rest against the Thunder, the priority now is to look ahead, starting yet another chapter in the season. While the stretch of games hardly compares to the difficult March the Clippers have endured, this final stretch of the regular season — this time where we all finally get to see how Blake Griffin joins a much-improved team from the one we saw in December –looks to be one of the team’s most important.