So, if we tried not to get too despondent about the 29 point loss in the first pre-season game, we should also try not to get too ebullient about the 32 point win in the second pre-season game, right?
With a little less than three minutes to go in the first
half quarter, the game was close, with the Clippers holding a 21-20 lead. In the 15 minutes from there to halftime, led by Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman, they outscored the Kings 42-18 turning it into a rout e.
I didn't get to listen to the first half as I was at ClipperMax's back to school night. By the time I turned on the radio, all the starters were out and the Clippers had a 30 point lead. But according to Ralph (and evident from the box score as well), Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman put on a show (but especially Blake).
If you're looking for the narrative for the Clippers' best case scenario, if you're a charter member of Club Optimism and want to know what great things are going to happen for the Clippers this season, you start with the front court. There was a time when the Western Conference was loaded with dominant power forwards and centers, when guys like Zach Randolph and Elton Brand would average 20 and 10 but wouldn't get a sniff of All Star weekend because they played for losing teams and the conference was so top heavy with talented bigs. But with Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer continuing a trend that has seen multiple all star level bigs head East over the last few seasons, it's just not the case anymore. And the mega-star bigs that remain are getting long in the tooth, and though Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki haven't begun a significant decline as of yet, we'll see how much longer they can remain at the elite level.
Given the current landscape, Kaman and Griffin have a chance to be the best big man tandem in the Conference, if not the league. That of course assumes a certain level of play for Griffin - perhaps not necessarily tonight's hyper-productivity, but a level that would definitely be unusual for a rookie. Yet, doesn't it feel like he's completely capable of it?
In that scenario, who's better than Kaman-Griffin? Maybe Bynum-Gasol, if Bynum's ever again healthy. (Maybe Gasol-Odom on the ridiculously loaded Lakers roster.) You can make a case for Gasol-Randolph in Memphis. Before tonight, Kings fans might have wanted to tout Cousins-Landry.
Well, Griffin went for 18 points and 13 rebounds (5 of them on the offensive glass) in only 23 minutes tonight, mostly against Landry. He had 11 and 9 in the first quarter. And did I mention that he did it in 7 shots, making all of his field goals? Meanwhile, all Kaman did was go for 20 points on 12 shots in 22 minutes. That's some serious production from your bigs. And while I've only see a couple of highlights so far, many of them involve the two of them playing off each other - Griffin rebounding Kaman misses, Kaman dishing to Griffin on the cut. With Kaman's mid-range face up game, Griffin is the perfect partner for him.
Beyond the big guys, the things that were the most wrong about the game in Portland were right tonight. 28 turnovers Tuesday; 13 tonight. Al-Farouq Aminu looking completely overwhelmed Tuesday; 17 points and 8 rebounds in 27 minutes tonight.
It's just pre-season. But it's certainly more fun to win than to lose, and it's much more fun to win big than to lose big.
And if Blake Griffin is who we think he is (as he was tonight), we're going to have some fun this season.