Can there really be too much, yet not enough, of a good thing?
If last night’s game against the Phoenix Suns was any indication, the answer is an emphatic yes. With two potential Hall of Fame point guards in Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups sitting injured, the Clippers turned to a patchwork of ball handlers to fill in and the results weren’t pretty. Though they had their chances to pull out a tough contest on the road against the better-than-their-record talent suggests Suns, they eventually faltered late on a variety of miscues and defensive lapses. The Clippers have now lost their third straight game, only one fewer than their longest drought earlier in the season.
Eric Bledsoe, starting his fourth game for the injured Chris Paul, scored 15 points on 5-10 shooting, providing all the energy one expects from him. However, Bledsoe continues to gamble unnecessarily, picking up two silly fouls early to force him out of the game. Jamal Crawford then took over the ball handling duties, which meant less emphasis on his ability to score early on as he committed three turnovers and was harassed by double teams all game long. Coach Vinnie Del Negro then rotated the point duties through Willie Green, Grant Hill, and Matt Barnes, none of whom were particularly effective while Bledsoe sat. Still, Crawford did manage to pour in 21 points on 8-13 shooting, though a costly missed free throw at the end pretty much iced the game for Phoenix as the miss kept the Suns up by 2 with possession and 15 seconds left. Caron Butler, who had missed a wide open three pointer that would’ve given the Clippers the lead just seconds earlier, was then charged with a clear path foul on Shannon Brown, who then hit both free throws to put the game out of reach.
To add injury to insult, Blake Griffin turned his ankle and jammed his right hand diving for a loose ball early on and was hobbled all game, scoring only 12 points in 37 minutes (with 8 rebounds). With Griffin’s explosiveness hampered, the Suns were able to get 15 points from center Marcin Gortat and 14 from Luis Scola, who seemed to pop key jumpers every time the Clippers got close or took momentary leads. Lamar Odom provided some solid rebounding, but only hit 2-11 shots, blowing two easy layups that would have extended 3 point leads. The real star of the game, however, was Goran Dragic, who exploded for 24 points and pushed the tempo all game long.
My wife and I were invited by FullyClips writer Jean Chu to attend a viewing party for the game at ESPN Zone at LA Live, just across the street from Staples Center. A raucous crowd over over 200 was in attendance, with fantastic raffle prizes and drink specials all night long. Despite the loss, we all had a wonderful time and it was gratifying to see our fan base growing stronger by the game.
Tags: Blake Griffin Caron Butler Chauncey Billups Chris Paul DeAndre Jordan Eric Bledsoe Jamal Crawford LA Clippers Lamar Odom Lob City Los Angeles Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Clippers Matt Barnes NBA Vinny Del Negro