Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Chris Paul often seems to bring his best when pitted against the league’s upper echelon of point guards, and today was no exception. The Clippers floor general lead all scorers with 27 points on 10 of 19 shooting, adding 12 assists and essentially putting the game out of reach by fooling John Wall on a pump fake and side step to nail a wide-open three.
That was … Blake’s return: After 45 games, Blake Griffin has finally returned to the Clippers lineup. Despite noticeable rust, there were signs of the Blake of old, including a beautiful dish to a driving Luc Mbah a Moute in the first quarter, an alley-oop slam dunk, and a spin move into a lay up off the glass. He’d finish with only 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in 25 minutes, but also lead the team in plus-minus with a +22.
X factor: Chris Paul and J.J. Redick won the battle of backcourts in decisive fashion, scoring 45 points combined on 53.1% shooting. Opposing guards John Wall and Bradley Beal were held to only 23 points on 23.3% shooting. Bradley Beal was given an especially tough time by the Clippers defense, making only 2 of his 16 attempts.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 3, 2016
Clippers using Blake Griffin as a center with the second unit in his first game back. Interesting.
— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) April 3, 2016
The Clippers and Staples Center announced the arena's media and team entrance will be named the “Ralph Lawler Media and Team Member Entry."
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 3, 2016
— Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU) April 3, 2016
The @LAClippers have just clinched homecourt advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
— Isaac Lowenkron (@isaaclowenkron) April 3, 2016
Check Your Messages
Jamal Crawford had 19 points, on 6-of-12 FG, added 4 threes and 6 assists in today’s matinee win. They might as well go ahead and rename the 6th Man of the Year award the J-Crawford award. These kind of Crawford performances off the bench are not very surprising anymore. Over the past 8 games, he is averaging 17.6 points at a 46-percent clip from the field.
If that kind of production is not impressive enough for a 36-year old reserve, try to pay close attention to Crawford’s playmaking ability. It has fell off little, if at all. Over his career, Crawford has inflicted most of his damage by leveraging a lethal handle. This means he is either setting the table to step into a rhythm jumper or a penetrate-and-kick scenario.
Over the same 8 game span, Crawford’s assists have actually increased against his season average. His long distance game has been invaluably clutch as well. Perhaps most remarkable is the fact he is still physically out-quicking defenses as he did on several occasions in this game. He is just as nimble as he has ever been.
Today revealed little about Crawford we didn’t already know, but it is still amazing to notice the effect he can have on a game. Things like quick reaction time and the chemistry with DeAndre Jordan might be one of the subtle but more important elements he is bringing to the offense.
On a day where Blake Griffin returned from suspension (and had a game-high +22 in 24:32), it is easier to take the contributions of Clippers C DeAndre Jordan for granted. It’s easy to see how the Clippers would have lost control of this game without him.
After Jordan finished an alley-oop late in the 2nd quarter, the Clippers had a 56-42 lead. Jordan came down wrong off the rim and tweaked his right ankle – something that surprisingly doesn’t happen more often. Washington immediately cut the lead in half, and Jordan limped to the locker room before the end of the 1st half.
Jordan was back out there for the start of the 2nd half, but the Clippers got off to a sluggish start, allowing Washington to cut an 11-point halftime lead to a one-point game. It was at that point that Jordan decided to turn the Clippers’ collective switch back on.
Jordan split a pair of free throws to get the Clippers on the board in the 2nd half, and the next time down, he met Washington C Marcin Gortat well above the three-point line to deflect away an incoming pass. Over the next three minutes, the Clippers would push their lead back out to 12 points, with Jordan cleaning up a missed layup by J.J. Redick with a follow plus the foul; Jordan would make the FT.
Even at the end of the game when Jordan had to be taken out due to his struggles at the FT line, he wound up punctuating an important late game possession. Coming out of a timeout and with the Wizards shooting extremely well, Jordan slipped behind Gortat to finish a lob from Jamal Crawford. Jordan has been outstanding, with 17 straight games with at least double-figures scoring, and he has owned his role as the firebreather on L.A.’s defense.