The good news: Blake Griffin is back!
The bad news: The defense didn’t make the trip to South Philly.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers missed this game due to an illness, leaving assistant Mike Woodson to man the sidelines for LA. The 76ers had lost 9 games in a row to the Clippers, with 5 of those games decided by at least 19 points. LA had a 19-point 2nd-half lead in this game, but Philadelphia came all the way back for a double-digit victory despite missing 2016 1st round pick Ben Simmons, 2015 1st round pick Jahlil Okafor, and 2014 1st round pick Joel Embiid. The Clippers have now lost to each of the three teams that lost at least 60 games last season, having lost earlier in the season to Los Angeles and Brooklyn. It’s the first time since 2013-2014 that the Clippers lost a game to each of the worst three teams from the previous season.
Top Performer: Starting Philadelphia PG T.J. McConnell had a game-high 10 assists with only 1 turnover, but the team was at its best when McConnell’s backup Sergio Rodriguez was in the game. Rodriguez finished with 7 assists and only 1 turnover in only 20:27 off the bench. Rodriguez also finished the game with a game-high +22, while Philadelphia’s offensive rating when Rodriguez was on the floor was a team-high 135.6.
X-Factor: Trust the Process. In this game sans Embiid, the 76ers trusted each other at an extremely high level, passing for a season-high 35 assists on 45 made baskets. All 10 76ers that appeared in this game had multiple assists except for backup C Richaun Holmes, and all of Holmes’ 8 FGs were assisted. Philadelphia also had only 6 turnovers, which was the only time this season that the 76ers had fewer than 10 turnovers in a game.
Major Moment: The Clippers took their largest lead of the game after PG Austin Rivers made a layup to put LA up 78-59 with 9:51 left in the 3rd quarter. Philadelphia was at home with two days off, while the Clippers played the night before in Atlanta, and that logistical advantage was exploited in an incredible 54-22 run by the 76ers from about 9:51 left in the 3rd until about 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Philadelphia C Nerlens Noel made all 5 of his FGAs during this stretch for 10 points. The Clippers as a team made only 5-of-21 FGs (23.8 percent) during Philadelphia’s game-flipping run. Philadelphia took it right to the Clippers, outscoring them 36-2 in the paint during this run. 36 … to … 2 … !!!
Oh, and DeAndre Jordan airmailed multiple free throws:
nooooooooo DeAndre Jordan with ANOTHER airball free throw…. pic.twitter.com/sxHLg73N5Z
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 25, 2017
Key Lineups: We asked you all what lineup the Clippers should start with now that Griffin was back. Seems like Point Blake was quite popular:
The Clippers are back in action tonight in Philadelphia, and Blake Griffin is expected to return after 5 weeks away. Who should start where?
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) January 24, 2017
Well, Griffin and Rivers started together along with J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Jordan. Griffin matched the 76ers team with 6 turnovers, but the worst lineup that the Clippers put on the floor had Jamal Crawford in with the starters in place of Jordan. It was a defensive disaster, as the 76ers made 4-of-5 from the field in 4 minutes, outscoring LA 9-6. The Crawford/starters lineup had a net rating of -71.5 and a defensive rating of 150.0, the worst of 5 Clippers lineups that saw at least 4 minutes Tuesday night.
The 76ers were consistently scoring on LA with a lineup of starters McConnell and SF Robert Covington along with reserve SG Gerald Henderson, PF Dario Saric, and Holmes. That unit made 7-of-11 FGs (63.6 percent) while compiling a net rating of 34.7, the best of Philadelphia’s 3 lineups that played more than 4 minutes.
The Definition: Besides the fact that Griffin returned tonight, the Clippers wasted Crawford’s season-high 27-point effort, along with Redick (22 points) and Rivers (20 points) going over 20 as well. Those three combined to make 15 of the team’s 18 threes, marking the 2nd time in franchise history that the team lost a game in which it made 18 threes (LA also lost a November 2012 game vs the Hornets after making 18 threes). The defense was nonexistent in Philadelphia, and Woodson lamented his inability to fix it.
“I don’t think we were a defensive presence at all and it carried into the third quarter and then all hell broke loose,” Woodson said. “We couldn’t get stops and the ball stopped moving and they got hot and started feeling good about themselves.”
Austin Rivers ranted after the game about the 76ers being able to come back despite not having the strongest roster available:
“We were up 19, man, we were supposed to squash them,” Rivers said after the game. “They kept fighting and doing what they were supposed to do. Everybody knows that’s their M.O. They don’t have the talent that we have and that other teams have. They bank everything on playing hard. They outwork teams and that’s what they do. They’ve got a lot of guys that go out there and play as hard as possible. Credit to them, it’s working for them. I’m not saying they don’t have talent obviously, they are all NBA players. I don’t know what it was, we were up 19. Maybe we just thought we were going to cruise. They kept fighting and again I give all the credit to them. We did everything possibly wrong that you could possibly do in that second half.”
In a weird scheduling quirk, the Clippers will have only one game the rest of the month of January. It will be at Golden State after three days off. In the meantime, the Clippers have now lost games to 8 of the 15 teams under .500 at this point of the NBA season.