Los Angeles Clippers: Thunder Ain’t Loud
The Los Angeles Clippers got a huge home win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, 111-103 last night in what could be a Western Conference playoff match-up this postseason. The Clips weathered an early Thunder blitz to take control in the third quarter and hold it for the rest of the game. Here are some thoughts on the game.
- Obviously I know this man is a savant with the basketball, but watching him on a nuanced level this year has me really excited. Just the way he commands the team, especially the offense, is so beautiful I could go on and on and on. The last two games have been all about him setting up his teammates as much as possible, then scoring when needed. No wonder he finished with 16 assists. I found myself trying to guess to whom his next assist would go to as his next level passing befuddled the Thunder defense at every turn.
- CP3?s scoring consisted of midrange jumpers that were used to either end a Thunder run or close a Clips run when they were making their comeback. It’s pretty cool to watch him switch into, “I need to get to that exact spot” mode and work the defense until he ends up there.
- He also blocked the immortal Derek Fisher (I don’t like Fish at all and was pretty pleased he posted a -7 in 5 minutes of work) and shook Thabo Sefolosha so badly, he made Thabo foul him out of respect. I have a feeling I am going to see CP3 do one or two things a game just to remind me that he’s on a different plane mentally and athletically than anyone on the court.
- Clips were focused on getting him involved early with 2 quick shots but he was still looking out of sorts through the first half.
- However, in the third and fourth, he picked up his all-around game, playing defense, having some great cuts, and of course, hitting a few threes.
- His third quarter was especially valuable, showing why he has made himself into an above-average NBA player after several years of transition from being the man and king snob at Duke. He shows great knowledge of the game on offense, constantly working around picks to get open looks without becoming a strictly catch and shoot man. He dives off screens or makes smart, unexpected cuts that really help make the Clips offense go.
- Before I say any more, I hope Clippers fans are excited to watch J.J. and CP3 match basketball smarts this year. The third quarter was a masterpiece of how two guards with a great understanding of basketball can run a two man game. There were backdoors on inbounds passes, great transition passing, and CP manipulating the defense to set up J.J. for a three. All in all, these two could provide some memorable, if under the rim, moments for Clips fans this year.
- So I’m going to get this out of the way now, I am not a fan of DJ’s game. It’s all bark and no bite. He does very little that contributes to winning basketball games, such as playing post defense, traversing pick and rolls, or making free throws. With that said, I am going to follow him closely this year and see if the addition of Doc Rivers can turn the athleticism into some sizzle.
- He got torched by Ibaka, otherwise known as “I am announcing my removal from the Defensive Player of the Year race.” DJ was generally very quiet on the defensive end and I barely even noticed him for most of the third.
- All this said, I like what DJ has been doing on the offensive end. He will never be able to score on his own, but he sure seems to find himself in the correct place to catch pass after pass under the hoop for a dunk. I was wondering at one point if he could ever score without Chris Paul on the team, but if he plays like he did late yesterday with activity around the rim, people will always be able to find him.
- Oh, and he beat the deplorable Hack-A-Poor Foul Shooter by making 2 free throws, so he definitely deserves some props for that.
- All I have to talk about with him is the ejection. It was very weak, a glorified pushing match, where Barnes did the classic push then hold me back because I might fight. Yeah right, we all know that Ibaka would lay the smack down, but it’s always good to have the pseudo tough man around. And it was classic Barnes, who embodies the “Believe” tattoo on his neck, by backing up his teammates belief that he will come in with a good push on any Blake-created hissy fit. The most important result of ShoveDown 252 in the new, soft NBA was the ejection of the scorching Serge Ibaka. Well done Barnesy, if someone is hot and you can’t guard him, get him ejected.
- Blake Griffin is sweet and that means his passing. He had three lobs to DeAndre, including a cool one handed touch lob off a pass from Redick in the first. He might not have a refined post game, but his interior passing is a joy to watch.
- Darren Collison has some crazy sprinter’s speed (I wonder if it helps that his parents were elite track athletes). When he gets the jets going on fastbreaks, their is no stopping him, just hoping he doesn’t clang the ball off the backboard.
- Reggie Bullock got some run in the third and fourth quarter and looked pretty good. He brought a lot of energy (3 boards in 6 minutes) and never looked overwhelmed by a close game against a top opponent. At the very least, he could prove valuable during the dog days in March when others need rest.