We began Wednesday with a poll that asked the people what they thought about the potential of a trade involving the LA Clippers and New York Knicks SF Carmelo Anthony. Most people don’t see a trade happening, but a notable percentage believes it could:
Clippers look for 5th straight win streak Madison Square Garden vs the Knicks tonight. Do you feel like a Carmelo to LAC trade gets done?
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) February 8, 2017
Making things even crazier is that Knicks president Phil Jackson responded to a Bleacher Report article by Kevin Ding that criticized Anthony by basically co-signing it:
Bleacher's Ding almost rings the bell, but I learned you don't change the spot on a leopard with Michael Graham in my CBA daze.
— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) February 7, 2017
There was more than enough drama going on with the Knicks before they hosted the Clippers Wednesday night in a nationally televised contest. But the start of the game was marred by an altercation involving former Knicks All-Star PF Charles Oakley. Then the Knicks blew a 10-point 4th quarter lead and the Clippers won their 9th straight game against New York. Just another dysfunctional night for one of the most overexposed teams in the NBA, something that the Clippers will be tied to for the next two weeks as they serve as a potential Anthony destination.
Top Performer: Clippers PF Blake Griffin is on a tear, and he’s playing his best basketball of the season. In a game that saw three players on each team score over 20 points, Griffin led them all with a game-high and Clippers season-high 32 points. Griffin got to the line 11 times, making 8, and he was a factor in Anthony and New York PF Kristaps Porzingis getting 5 fouls each. Griffin also added 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 2 threes in 35:35.
X-Factor: I’ve commented before on the Clippers’ lack of team speed. This related tweet also showed up:
Clippers have team speed issues against this team, but sure, bring Carmelo in…
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) January 29, 2017
Don’t mind me … I just think it’s interesting that the Clippers found a team that they could beat up and down the floor, as they outscored the Knicks 30-6 in fastbreak points. Anthony had the worst fastbreak point differential of any Knick, as he failed to score any points on the break while being on the floor for 21 of the 30 that the Clippers scored.
Major Moment: You mean, besides this?
Soooooo Charles Oakley just got into a fight at he Knicks game. pic.twitter.com/klZBD89VI7
— Ian Schafer (@ischafer) February 9, 2017
The Knicks had a 98-88 lead with 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter, and they were going up against a Clippers defense that was the NBA’s worst over the last two weeks. But the Clippers closed the game by outscoring New York 31-17 over those last 10 minutes. The Clippers made 10 of their last 17 shots from the field (58.8 percent) while making 9-of-12 FTs; the Knicks were held to 7-of-23 from the field (30.4 percent) while Porzingis split the only pair of FTs New York shot in the entire 4th quarter. Clippers All-Star C DeAndre Jordan dominated down the stretch, scoring 10 of his 28 points, grabbing 5 of his game-high 15 rebounds, and blocking both of his shots in the last 10 minutes of the game.
Key Lineups: A funny thing happened with the Clippers defense in this game. The starting lineup included SF Luc Mbah a Moute with Jordan, Griffin, SG J.J. Redick, and PG Austin Rivers. In 18 minutes, that lineup was burnt often, allowing 130.8 points per 100 possessions. But with Jamal Crawford in with the starters for Mbah a Moute, the Clippers allowed only 89.5 points per 100 possessions. Crawford also added a strong game offensively (20 points on 7-of-12 from the field), and the net rating of the Crawford/starters lineup was a healthy 39.3.
On the flipside, the Knicks were at their worst when starting C Kyle O’Quinn was out and Justin Holiday was in with starters Porzingis, Anthony, SG Courtney Lee, and PG Derrick Rose. In 4 minutes, that lineup scored only 8 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field, while allowing the Clippers to score 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. The Holiday/starters lineup compiled a net rating of -72.7.
The Definition: Everyone will remember this game for the Oakley incident, but Griffin is playing outstanding basketball right now. In 7 games back since returning from knee surgery, Griffin is averaging numbers that are approaching his production from 2013-2014 when PG Chris Paul was out:
“I am getting to my spots a little bit better,” Griffin said after the game. “I feel confident physically and basketball wise. I don’t think it is about getting the ball more. It is about trusting the offense.”
Offense hasn’t been the issue, as they have been a top-10 offense since Griffin has been back. But despite the win, the Clippers still allowed another opponent to score a lot of points, and LA has the worst defense in the league since January 24th. No team allows more points or assists, and no team has forced fewer turnovers. It’s an issue that Griffin wants resolved:
“The way we got down… guys were fighting, guys were scrapping,” Griffin added. “Jamal was huge, DJ was huge, Austin was great down the stretch. We have to put that together for 48 minutes.”