Well, following a disappointing loss to the San Antonio Spurs, I set out to write my first official game recap for Clips Nation. About an hour and a half later, I had completed a lengthy, in depth, and dare I say damn good game recap. All that was left to do was to spell check and add a photo. Thanks to the handy manual and auto save features on the SB Nation editor, I decided there was no need to save a copy of the recap to notepad or Word. This would ultimately be my demise. Scrolling back up the page after selecting my photo, I found there were no words left in the editor. And, even better, the editor auto-saved over the blank page. I have recently come down from a level of anger usually reserved for foreign dictators funding terrorism. As such, the following recap will likely be shorter and less thorough (not to mention a little later) than I had originally set out. For this I apologize.
After a quick 3 point play by Caron Butler and a dunk by Blake Griffin, what looked like a good start for the Clippers turned ugly. Manu Ginobli (already in mid season form) got hot. The Clippers defense was scattered and lost, unable to get stops and thus unable to get anything going in transition. The half court offense was not much better. The Spurs shot lights out in the first half (7 of 14 from three, as well as earning three free throws on 2 occasions), and took a 14 point lead. In fact, they missed a couple of good looks from deep that could have extended the lead. At a point where the game could have gotten away from them, the Clippers countered with a run of their own, digging in and getting a few stops, and hitting a number of big threes, most notably two big ones back to back by Chauncey Billups. Going into the half, the Spurs lead was down to four, and the new look Clippers looked poised to compete. They had figured out that they need to play defense at a high level to open up their offense. They would head into the second half with a chance to win in an arena where they have been denied so many times in the past.
Some observations from the game:
Chris Paul/Blake Griffin pick and roll/pop:
Early in the game, the Clippers were looking to run this and got Blake Griffin open at the free throw line/ free throw line extended (with mixed results). This is going to have to become a major part of the Clippers offense going forward, and I am confident that it can and will be effective. These guys will develop chemistry sooner than later. Meanwhile, Chris Paul has to get in shape. The guy is so talented and crafty that he is already extremely effective, but he doesn't have his full quickness yet. He has shown flashes, but its apparent that he will improve. This will make the pick and roll/pop game that much more difficult to guard. And Blake needs to improve as well. Right now, teams are trying to take away the roll to the basket (San Antonio did a great job of this tonight). Blake has the ability to be a knockdown shooter from mid range. It seems that most of his problem is that he has an extremely annoying habit of fading backwards on his shot (even when uncontested). I don't have any stats to back it up, but from my own observations he shoots a much higher percentage when he goes straight up
Outside of a three minute stretch in the second quarter where he made a couple of shots and had a nice interior pass to Deandre Jordan, Ryan Gomes was awful in this game. Completely lost on defense, incapable of guarding threes or fours, and unable to hit the corner three. His release looks awful. Ryan Gomes needs to play better..
A tough game for Billups. Manu Ginobli is a tough cover for anyone, and with a significant size advantage on Chauncey, he was pretty much able to do as he pleased. The Clippers overall lack of offensive flow meant Chauncey didn't get a lot of great looks from deep or anywhere else for that matter. Like most of the Clippers, he seemed slow tonight.
I love Cookies. Brian cook being referred to as "cookie" is unacceptable. A stretch four who can knock down the three sounds like something you want, but once he is in you realize you don't want him in there. He is the basketball equivalent of an an oatmeal raisin cookie. Henceforth, I shall refer to him as "Oatmeal Raisin.
This game was a buzz-kill, to quote fellow citizen Michael White. But it's not the end of the world. The Clippers are going to have growing pains as they learn to play together and develop chemistry. Against weaker opponents, they may be able to simply "out-talent" them and earn some wins. The Spurs, however, are a well oiled machine, and you have to have a game plan and execute it to beat them. The Clippers will get better. A win is always better than a loss, but sometimes a loss is exactly what a team needs to realize what needs to be done and to get back on track. Hopefully, this loss will do exactly that for the Clippers.