“It was all good just a week ago…”
7 days ago, Blake Griffin was basking in a haze of glory;coming off of a rare Clipper victory over Minnesota in the final game before the All Star Break, he’d scored a quick 14 points in the Rookies upset of the Sophomores on Friday, he’d almost shattered the world with the dunks he missed en route to winning the Dunk Contest over a loaded field, and he was set to embark on his maiden All Star Game, where he’d tally 8 points, 5, rebounds, and 5 assists in the West’s thrilling 148-143 victory over the East squad. For a 21 year old red-shirt rookie, this must have been his “I made it” moment.
But then, back to life, back to reality. Fast forward a week; the Clippers have wrapped up a brutal 4 game stretch- at the OKC Thunder, at the N’awlins Hornets, “at” their nemesis big brother LA Lakers, and finally a home game against the new look Beast of the East Celtics. The end result of last week’s work should be under a sheet at the LA County Morgue; the Clippers lost all 4 games, were outscored by a total of 54 points over the 168 hours, and the worm-ridden cherry on top of this stinky sundae, they traded resurgent point guard Baron Davis, who’d been playing better than he had in years in the absence of Eric Gordon, to the Cleveland Cavaliers for hobbled PG Mo Williams and offensively limited Jamario Moon. Let’s pick through the wreckage and try to piece together any slivers of shininess we find in the rubble to reconstruct the silver lining:
GAME 1: @ OKC Thunder 111 – 88 L
- Blake Griffin was phenomenal, finishing with 28-11-8 assists, notching his 47th double-double.
- Al-Farouq Aminu showed signs of snapping out of his mid-season doldrums with 12 points on 5-9 shooting.
- Eric Bledsoe continued to be a terror off of the bench with 13pts, 4 rbs, 2asts, and 2 stls
- As a team, the Clippers did yeoman’s work against 2 of the elite scorers in the league, holding the usually lethal duo of Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook (combines 55.6 ppg on 45.2% shooting for the season) to 34 points on a puny 33% from the floor. Tip of the hat to Ryan Gomes who did an excellent job of making life tough for Durant. (too bad Jeff Green and James Harden decided to go bonkers, dropping 22 and 19 respectively).
Game 2: @ New Orleans Hornets 98 – 87 L
- Tough, tough loss. Not much positive takeaway from this one. Blake Griffin was solid (21 points, 13 boards, a surprising 2 blocks), but the team struggled overall.
- Chris Kaman looked to be improving, dropping 14 points on 6-11 shooting, with 4 boards.
- Aminu was effective again off the bench; his 8 points and 5 rebounds were strong.
Game 3: @ Los Angeles Lakers 108 – 95 L
- Welp. Even though they were considered the road team, the Clips had to be relieved to see the Staples Center again.
- Randy Foye had a breakout game; his 24 points (including 5-9 from deep!) kept the Clips in it early.
- Blake: 22 points, 10 boards, another block. He’s consistently a monster, and he doesn’t even really know how to play yet (cliché #435).
- Kaman (10 pts, 9 rbs, 2 blocks), looked exceptionally sharp at times. With DeAndre Jordan seemingly regressing a little bit, Kaman should start eating into Jordan’s minutes.
Game 4: Boston Celtics 98 – 92 L
- Like the Lakers game, simply a case of being overwhelmed by a superior team. A 24-7 run by the Celtics that bridged the 2nd and 3rd quarters doomed the Clippers.
- Randy Foye continued to roll, exploding for 32 points and 7 dimes on 50% shooting. Because of the success of Brandon Roy, the guy he was traded for on draft day, and the pathetic Minnesota Timberwolves teams Foye played on, it’s easy to forget that Randy actually is a solid NBA player: he put up 16 ppg, 3 rbs, and 4 assist a game just 2 years ago.
- Kaman is rounding into form; 16 points, 9 boards, and 3 blocks. Combined with DJ, they swatted 7 Celtic shots. Once Kaman is fully healthy, the Clipper big man rotation will be enough to rival any team in the NBA.
- Although the soon-to-be starting point guard Mo Williams and back up swingman Jamario Moon didn’t play. The Clips played the defending Eastern conference champs tough.
- Oh yeah! Griffin dropped 21, 11, and had 4 dimes.
The Clippers were victims of circumstance; they face 4 playoff bound teams gearing up for the playoffs without it’s most important perimeter player (Eric Gordon) and with rookie pg Eric Bledsoe in over his head trying to run the show against Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, the stout Lakers team defense, and Rajon Rondo. Looking at those odds, it’s a wonder the Clip Show is still upright.