Clipper Nation has been feasting on Eric Gordon and Al Thornton for the last few months. To think of the Clippers being competitive without them was unimaginable - until yesterday.
For most of this season, the Clippers main offensive contributors have been the DonTon Boys. But for a big game against the defending champs last night, EG left early in the third with only 4 points and AT didn't play at all. Yet the Clippers prevailed.
This fact just impressed upon me that no matter how consistently awesome Gordon has been and how inconsistently awesome AT has played, they are very, very young.
In the NBA very, very young usually translates into close losses and blowouts. (Yes, I know AT is not young in age, but he is only in his second year and he started playing later in life, etc., blah blah, ad nauseum.)
The point is I'd almost forgotten that experience and effort can overcome physical limitations - through defense.
That is exactly how the Clippers beat the Celtics.
In the win against the Warriors, the Clippers beat them with big three point shooting from Gordon and Baron, and a couple of great dunks by Fred Jones. A whole lot of offense adding up to 118 points.
The Celtics, on the other hand, don't let teams get off open shots or unmolested dunks or score gobs of points. So the Clips had to play a completely different style of game - a defensive game fueled by effort.
Holy Moly! Who knew the Clippers could play defense this year?
Ricky Davis? Zach Randoplph? Play defense? – Practice? Practice? We're sitting here talking about defense?
As a season ticket holder for the past 3 years, I've been to a fair share of games. One of my favorite games was against the Hornets (in the '05-'06 season, I believe). The Clippers held them to 16 points in the entire second HALF. It was AWESOME. Steal after steal, block after block, - to me, that was Clippers basketball. I was screaming from my seat the whole second half!
I have never come close to being as excited about Clipper defense like I was that game, until last night. Sure, the Clippers might have had some defensive gems since then but not at a game I attended, against a team as good or highly ranked as the Celtics. Yes, it wasn't a shutdown like the Hornets game, but holding them to 9 points in the last 8 minutes while scoring 20, forcing 21 tunovers for the game, beating the defending champs without two of your top scorers - it was pretty darn fun to watch.
Ode to the Clichés
Offense is a fickle girl. She can leave you and hook up with your enemy in an instant. She can stay with you for a whole game or never show up and leave you standing there, humiliated.
But Defense, Defense is your trusty dog - man's best friend. It's the kind of dog that barks to warn you, growls to protect you and listens only to your voice. It loves you because you feed it and will always stick with you.
Defense wins championships.
As much as I like seeing Novak and Gordon's three pointers, DeAndre and Thornton's throwdowns (and even our Slam Dunk Champ's back to the future jams), I like watching great defense even more.
In football - Interceptions and sacks, recovering fumbles and running for touchdowns - why are they great? Because you're rooting for the underdog. You're rooting for the guy that was too slow or not talented enough to be an offensive player. You're rooting for that guy to score, sucking the life out of the opponent's offense, making them feel like they cannot score or gain any momentum.
In basketball, beating another team with offense just makes your opponent want to score more. You made an incredible shot? Well I can make one too. It just doesn't have the same frustrating effect as stifling defense. (see Eddie House's face after Fred Jones stole a pass leading to a pass - pass - pass - three pointer by Steve Novak.) Priceless.
I hope the Clippers can take this game and use it as a measuring stick to rate their defensive effort in all games from here on out.
My February Staples Record
So I've been to three games at Staples this month - ALL OF THEM WINS! ALL FUN!
I don't have the tickets to Sat (I split my season this year) so that means 3 out of 3 for me this month!
Man, am I glad I wrote that Turnaround Post to get this all started. (wink)
Finally, being a Clipper fan is fun again.