J.A. Adande perfectly explains in less than 140 characters how myself and many others feel about the Los Angeles Clippers at this point in the season.
The Clippers are the most play-down-to-the-competition team in the NBA
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) November 28, 2013
This isn’t the New York Knicks team of 2012-13 that bombarded you with three-pointers while Carmelo Anthony collected points on the wing and Tyson Chandler defended the paint as well as anyone in the NBA. The Knicks we’re seeing now are broken, internally and externally, failing to recoup in the wake of Chandler’s injury and the acclamation of Andrea Bargnani. This team came into tonight’s matchup with the Clippers the losers of six straight and it took until the fourth quarter for the Clips to pull-away.
What worked for New York went array in the second half. Bargs and Melo combined for 35 points in the first half. In the second? Twelve points. That’s basically the story of the game for both sides and the deciding factor in Los Angeles’ victory.
There comes a point where you expect the Clippers’ play to match the talent level the roster provides. Competing neck-and-neck with the Golden State Warriors or Miami Heat? That’s acceptable due to the level of competition. But fighting to get a victory over a bottom-dweller like the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings? It’s borderline annoying at this point. Issues such as this usually resort from poor leadership, but that speaks against Doc Rivers‘ character. Things just seems as if the Clippers expect teams to lie down and let LA walk over them willingly. That mentality has to change because with championship aspirations and the “Lob City” mentality that was created once Paul arrived in Los Angeles, teams have forced themselves to get up to face this team.
But a win is a win.
Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick all led the Clippers in scoring with 15 points a piece, but they weren’t the difference makers in tonight’s game. For once the bench came in and impacted the game in ways “A Tribe Called Bench” had done last season. Jamal Crawford pitched in his bench-high 13 points and the other four reserves (Jamison, Collison, Hollins, Bullock) combined for 21 points. That may not seem like a lot, but for a bench that largely relies on Crawford to carry the load on a nightly basis, this is huge. Each reserve player posted a +/- of 10 or higher tonight.
Defensively, the Clippers looked improved, especially in the second half. While Andrea Bargnani’s six missed shots in the final two quarters was a simple case of regressing to the mean, Anthony’s two for eight shooting is attributed to great defense. Jared Dudley and Reggie Bullock can take majority of the credit for that. Tonight was easily their best night containing the opposite teams best wing player. Instead of allowing Anthony to attack and get to the middle of the floor, he was forced to settle for tough, contested jumpers. Keeping the ball in the hands of J.R. Smith is as perfect a game plan you’ll find.
The Clippers get a day off for Thanksgiving before heading to Northern California to take on the Demarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings, a game that never fails to deliver entertainment wise. Hopefully Chris Paul’s hamstring is in tact before Friday night.