First of all, thanks for everyone who came out for Clips Nation Night last night. We had a really nice turn out, and I think everyone had a good time. I know I did.
Special thanks to citizen Besaje for putting the whole thing together. It was a lot of fun, and we definitely need to do it again next season.
They had us in the press box way up at the top of Staples, above the 300 section. It was actually very cool. The raffle was fun, and wasn't rigged at all. (I was drawing the tickets, and the first two that came out were for my mom and my brother - that was a bit awkward.) Citizen Lawler's Law won a Blake Griffin jersey. Citizen Michael White's buddy won courtside seats for the game. Citizen Clipperoo, did you ever get your Blake Griffin figurine?
As for the game, it was actually pretty entertaining. The Warriors have of course been one of the most injury riddled teams in the NBA this season, but the Clippers managed to match them tonight. With Eric Gordon (viral infection), Drew Gooden (knee), Craig Smith (back) and Travis Outlaw (groin) all missing the game, the Clippers starting power forward was DeAndre Jordan, and his back up was Mardy Collins. Then, Baron Davis sprained his wrist with 5 seconds left in the first half blocking Corey Maggette's layup attempt. He clearly wanted to play - he was in the middle of a monster game, with 19 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds at that point. He got the wrist wrapped at halftime, but in the first three minutes of the second half he got hit twice more, and had to come out for good. With Brian Skinner buried too deep on the bench to see, the Clippers played the second half with seven guys.
All of this made for some superlatives among the healthy Clippers in terms of minutes logged. Steve Blake played 46 minutes, the most he's ever played in a regulation NBA game (he once played 50 minutes for Denver in an OT contest). DeAndre Jordan played 43 minutes and 3 seconds, a season-high and 11 seconds shy of his career high against the Lakers last season. Steve Novak, Mardy Collins and Bobby Brown all played a lot more minutes than we're used to as well.
And probably, that was a good thing for the game. The Clippers have proven time and again that they will not take a depleted opponent seriously, and will invariably lose in embarrassing fashion. But given that the Clippers were just as depleted as the Warriors, there was no reason to take them lightly, if that makes any sense.
Not that either team played a lot of defense. The Clippers shot over 60% in the first half, and the Warriors hung within 8 on the strength of a lot of three pointers. For the Clippers, Chris Kaman and the aforementioned Baron were as sharp as we've seen them this season. (They actually looked like the All Stars that they technically are, at least on offense.)
But when the Warriors started the fourth quarter with a barrage of threes (they made four straight on consecutive possessions in the first three minutes of the quarter) it looked like it would be another loss, maybe even another embarrassment. No big deal of course. Philly had won their game, so there were more ping pong balls to be had. But still, watching Devean George and Ronny Turiaf crow on our floor was not a lot of fun, and I for one wanted it to stop.
Enter DeAndre Jordan. During GSW's three point barrage, the Clippers missed all of their own initial shots - but DJ came up with three offensive rebounds and baskets (two of them monster dunks) to keep the game close. It was a classic mismatch battle. DJ was defending Devean George on one end, which was of course a major challenge on the perimeter, which George won at least once with one of those three pointers. But, that also meant that George was trying to keep DJ off the offensive glass, which clearly wasn't working. Jordan had a season-high 15 rebounds overall (part of a 55 to 39 Clippers' rebounding advantage) and those three key put backs in the fourth.
Despite DJ's heroics, the Warriors held a 97-91 lead with 7:16 to play. They had scored 18 points in less than 5 fourth quarter minutes, so it seemed obvious that Lawler's Law (the Law, not the Citizen) was about to click in, within a matter of seconds. Instead, the Warriors went ice cold at that point, missing their next nine shots (including four threes and a Maggette dunk), and it was the Clippers who got to 100 first, and a Steve Novak corner three. The Law works again.
Back to DeAndre for a moment. I've said before that DJ has to do five things to be a very good NBA player. Those things are: (1) play solid post defense, (2) finish around the rim, (3) block shots, (4) rebound and (5) make free throws. He does three of those things well already. If he can improve his post defense and get to a respectable level at the line, he'll be a good pro. That's ignoring the possiblity that he could also develop some post moves and get even better. All of that's just gravy. He needs to do those five things. But above and beyond that, DeAndre has been exhibiting a feel for the game that we didn't think he possessed. He's made some pretty nifty passes recently, including one to Rasual Butler for a dunk last night. But the play of the game may have come on DeAndre's final basket. With Kaman holding the ball on the left wing, DJ set a flare screen trying to free Novak for a three. The Warrirors were worried enough about Novak that Ronny Turiaf switched onto him, leaving Steph Curry on Jordan. DJ did exactly what he should do - he kept Curry on his hip and dove to the basket. Kaman hit him with a nifty slip pass, DJ got the dunk (he missed the and-one of course) and the Clippers had a five point lead.
Of course, even after they had built that five point lead with a minute to go, the Clippers made it interesting. Bobby Brown missed a free throw. DeAndre threw a terrible and terribly dumb inbounds pass that Mardy Collins just happened to get to first, though two Warriors had almost as good a chance at it. Then Mardy also missed a free throw, giving the Warriors a chance to tie with a three in the final 4 seconds. But Anthony Tolliver's clean look didn't go in, and the Clippers had their 28th win of the season.
And the season record during Clips Nation events went to 2-0.