Too much fun stuff happened in the Clippers 105-99 win over the Miami Heat last night to cram into one recap. Here are some other random thoughts from last night's big win:
I really didn't mention the 44 point first quarter at all last night, but let's face it, it needs at least a bullet. It represented a season high in points in a quarter for the Clippers, as well as a season high in points allowed for the Heat. The Clippers shot a searing 77% from the field. They made 4 of 5 three pointers, and even shot 6 for 8 from the line. When you add in the threes, their effective field goal percentage for the quarter climbs to 86%. It's telling that their team true shooting percentage is about the same - actually, a few hundredths lower. It's rare that you can shoot 6 for 8 from the line, and hurt your TSP, but that's how well the Clippers shot. Everything was going in. The 44 points is even more remarkable when you consider that they opened the game with two very bad trips, a too-pumped-up Griffin bank shot that didn't draw iron followed by a turnover. For the rest of the quarter, they could do no wrong. A 6-0 run four minutes in gave them a four point lead, and they never trailed again.
The hot start was exactly what they needed against a hyper-talented Heat team. The huge sellout crowd was buzzing from the beginning, and the Clippers and the crowd fed off each other throughout the quarter. The home court advantage remained huge for the Clippers the entire game, but especially during the scintillating start.
When I read in the Sun Sentinel that the Heat players were actively talking about staying out of posters, I thought to myself that it seemed strange. Isn't that pretty lame? I'm going to do my best to get out of the way? Anyway, if you watch Eric Gordon's first quarter dunk closely, you'll notice that Chris Bosh has ample opportunity to challenge Gordon and simply doesn't do it. Bosh is on Griffin at the time, and maybe he was worried that by going to Gordon, he'd end up on Griffin's poster, or straight worried that he'd end up on Gordon's poster, or maybe it was just truly horrible defense (you have to stop the ball, Chris). Given that the Heat were openly discussing their posterphobia before the game, I think we have to assume that it played a role. But the first step is admitting you have a problem Chris. Maybe there's a 12 Step program you can join.
Is it my imagination, or does Baron Davis get more pumped up when he makes a great pass then when you makes a great shot? I know it was discussed on the game thread, but his "OH YEAH!" scream, even before he had released the lob that would become a DeAndre Jordan dunk in the first quarter, was a classic. That's Baron, seeing what is about to happen before it happens, and getting really, really hyped about it. It's worth noting that that was the play that really got the party started for the Clippers. The basket tied the game at 9, Baron scored 30 seconds later to give LA their first lead, and they never trailed again.
Speaking of getting the party started, of the Clippers first dozen points, Baron scored six (on two shots) and assisted on the other six.
- [Note by Steve Perrin, 01/13/11 10:32 AM PST ] The incident between Blake Griffin and Mario Chalmers was a bit of a mystery to viewers of the local LA broadcast. But the Miami broadcast got the camera angle that showed the start of it. It's been discussed here on Clips Nation that Blake was protecting Baron after a hard foul (Blake implied as much in his post game interview with Dain Blanton). Nope. Fanhouse has a post up showing the other angle - Blake gave Chalmers a gratuitous shove as they were running down the court trailing the fast break. Was it a dirty play? Well, it wasn't a clean play; but nor was it any big deal, and clearly Chalmers completely overreacted to it. Chalmers must also have had some really well-chosen words for Griffin, because whatever he said, he really got a rise. I've never seen Griffin react quite like that. Whatever Chalmers said, it brought an immediate T from the official who heard it, and then Griffin, who had seemed relatively composed until then, looked ready to actually charge the guy, bringing his own T. One wonders if these two have some history from Kansas-Oklahoma.
This was not a major dunk fest game for the Clippers, despite what George Karl said. By my count, they only had five, which is not a huge total for the team. However, four of them came in quick succession in that epic first quarter, beginning with the Baron-to-DJ "OH YEAH" lob. The last of those four dunks was in many ways the most remarkable. With Blake bringing the ball up the left wing, DJ was in the right lane behind his defender. Now, had it been Baron with the ball, he would have thrown a lob, but the window for the lob was when the ball was just over half court, and Blake isn't comfortable throwing a 40 foot lob (not many people are), so he kept dribbling. He eventually got the ball to DJ, but by the time he did, the defense had recovered some, and DJ was under the basket. I thought he would still be able to make his move to the hoop, but instead he found Baron trailing the play open in the lane. Baron finished with a one handed power jam the likes of which we haven't seen since Davis has been in LA. This was vintage Boom. Given where he caught the ball, and that he did it with no more than perhaps a two step start, I was shocked. I literally didn't think he could do that anymore. ClipperZoe, who absolutely loves watching Griffin dunk, heard me scream from the other room and came running, assuming it was a something Griffin had done. When I ran it back for her, she just got the biggest smile on her face. It was great.
Dwyane Wade had a great game, but it's worth noting that he was held relatively in check by Eric Gordon. Wade was at his best during the second quarter, when he went 6 for 7 and scored 13 points. During the second quarter, it was Randy Foye guarding him for the first six minutes, and then the Clippers played zone for the end of the quarter. Obviously, neither of those worked very well against Wade. Wade went 6 for 15 the rest of the game.
For some reason, the big three seemed to fall in love with the three pointer down the stretch, a terrible decision when you consider the alternatives. The Heat made 8 threes in the game, and certainly used it to get close in the fourth. They made three straight (by Wade, James and Chalmers) to be within 2 about midway through the quarter. But then, when they should have been taking the ball to the hole, the big three missed five straight threes between them. Some of them were taken when they were desperate and needed threes to have a chance, but the deluge started when the game was well within reach. If you're playing that team, any time you can get Dwyane Wade to shoot a three, you've done your job.
The big three accounted for 84 of Miami's 105 points, exactly 80%. That's after they were around 90% in the prior game. This is truly remarkable, when you consider the open looks that are available for any NBA player who steps on the floor with these guys. To be sure, the "History of the NBA Center" collection that they've assembled there was never intended to score, not even back when those guys had pulses, but it remains to be seen if this team can when in the post season when defenses gear up to stop the big three, and they need someone else to make a basket. The supporting cast scored 21 points on 25 shots last night, with most of the scoring coming from Chalmers, who made 3 of 9 three pointers.