Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
MVP: DeAndre Jordan was tenacious in his 27 minutes of game time, pushing his league-leading field goal percentage up by making 7 of his 9 shots. He’d add 11 rebounds and 4 blocks as well, but his night will be remembered most for his accomplishments above the rim — especially a rebound and putpack dunk over Roy Hibbert where he started his launch towards the rim from behind the backboard.
That was … a similar script: Just like last night, the Clippers took advantage of fast break opportunities, used the third quarter to put the game out of reach, and would have kept the Lakers under 80 points if not for a late basket by Ryan Kelly. The difference tonight was that the Lakers did manage a 4 point lead early in the first quarter, but a 14-2 run to finish the half helped the Clippers to their 11th straight win against their arena mates.
X factor: This was the first game that Blake Griffin looked like the player he was before the quad injury. In the first quarter, he would score 11 points on 5-5 shooting as well as pull down 5 rebounds. He lead all Clipper scorers after the first 12 minutes, earning his points on drives to the basket and even with one shot from midrange.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
— NBA On Def Pen (@NBAOnDefPen) April 7, 2016
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) April 7, 2016
Jeff Green said his knee will be fine. Like Wolverine, he said he's a quick healer. Really.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 7, 2016
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Inside / Out
Everything was rolling for Blake Griffin by the time the Clippers were in the thick of their 2nd Round matchup with the Houston Rockets last spring. Griffin’s pedigree as mere rim assaulter had evolved to the point where you couldn’t leave him open at the elbow anymore because that’s how automatic his jumper had become.
Tonight, in his third game back, Griffin’s rhythm and timing in the post showed signs of gaining some real traction. The Lakers offense is marshmallowy but still – Griffin did as he pleased in the post during a first quarter that saw him go 3-for-3 in the paint.
Griffin admitted there is still some hesitation to his movement and timing. The process of regaining a fearless disposition is a byproduct of in-game reps, adapting to game speed, and clearing away rust. The apprehension was probably a factor in going 1-of-6 (all perimeter jumpers) after the first quarter. Moving forward, Griffin will probably want to assert himself more in the paint. From there he can move to those elbow spots and rediscover the touch that made him impossible to stop.
Well, this is peak-Clippers right here. Make that 11 straight wins against the Lakers – the longest win streak for the Clippers in this series, and their longest current win streak against any team in the NBA.
And on the same night the Lakers set a new franchise record for most losses in a season (… for the third straight season), the Clippers notched win #50 on the season.
That’s four straight 50 win seasons. That also clinches a .600 winning percentage for this season. As I mentioned last month when I was comparing the Clippers to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Clippers’ recent stretch of winning is shared by only one other team: the San Antonio Spurs.
Of course, we’re used to seeing the Clippers play well in the regular season. We’re used to seeing them finish these regular season Aprils off strong. We’re all just waiting for next weekend, when the Clippers have to prove they haven’t taken a step back.
Holding the Lakers to a combined 23 assists in two games is one thing. Establishing consistent winning at a level no other team has achieved outside of San Antonio is a great feat. But the battle of Los Angeles is still up for grabs – and the Clippers need to take advantage of Kobe Bryant’s overdue retirement by reaching the NBA’s final four, something the team is certainly due for.