Yuck, yuck, yuck. What an ugly game. The Clippers looked terrible. I'm completely shocked looking at the box score that they shot almost 46%. It certainly felt much worse than that, didn't it? Then again, take out DeAndre Jordan's 6 for 6 and the team drops down to 41%. That's really what it felt like. Other than Jordan, who had 16 points and 15 rebounds, and Randy Foye, who led the team with 20 points on 8 for 13 shooting, no one could really be said to have had a good game. Mo Williams was actually 7 for 14 for 15 points, and handed out 8 assists, but he sure didn't have much impact on the game. And everyone else was pretty bad.
And the bad parade was led by Blake Griffin. With Elton Brand and a host of other Sixers crowding him wherever he went, Griffin played right into their hands. Even when he did get a little daylight, there was always another defender coming to help, and rather than taking the ball strong straight to the rim, Blake continually chose to spin away from the contact, and throw the ball to the rim, hoping to get a foul call. Some times it worked - he went to the line 15 times - but even when it worked it didn't work, since he made only 8 of those 15 (more on that later). For the fifth consecutive game, the longest such lull of his career, Griffin failed to record double digits in rebounding, finishing the game with 14 points and 8 rebounds. He made a mere three shots from the field, a new career low. So much for bouncing back with the support of the home crowd.
Maybe it's just a function of so many individuals playing poorly, but the Clippers looked completely incoherent on offense in this game. What were they doing out there? What were they trying to do? How many times did we see Griffin set a pick for Williams, Williams pass the ball to Griffin, Griffin pass the ball back to Williams, Griffin set another screen and the cycle starts all over? You know, you might be able to get away with running pick and roll 80% of the time when your point guard is Derrick Rose, but I'm thinking that this personnel needs to be a bit more ambitious. Because let's face it, Mo Williams isn't Rose running the pick and roll - he's not even Baron Davis, for that matter.
It didn't help that even when they did things right, it didn't work. Maybe we should have suspected the worst when, on the opening possession of the game, the Clippers ran a nice little misdirection set that got Ryan Gomes wide open under the basket - and Gomes promptly missed a layup. Likewise when Chris Kaman checked into the game, the Clippers continually got him wide open 15 footers, exactly the shot they were looking for, a shot Kaman knocked down all last season and has been making like clockwork since he returned from injury - he made 4 for 12 tonight.
And then there were the free throws. They were 18 for 34 on the night. For a team that ranks near the bottom of the league in free throw percentage, this was unusually bad. The 16 misses rank as the third most they've missed in a game this season. In one sequence near the end of the first half, the Clippers had an eight free throw possession consisting of two technical free throws interspersed into a sequence of two misses followed by an offense rebound and foul, two more misses followed by another offensive rebound and foul, and finally two more free throws. Of the eight, the missed six - all while trailing by just five. It goes without saying in a 10 point loss that these misses had a huge impact on the game.
Which is one of the more amazing things about this contest. The Clippers would have actually been in the game had they made their free throws. As badly as they played, that barely seems possible.
There's not much more to say about this one. You just have to move on and focus on the weekend games against Cleveland and Phoenix.
I do have a couple of quick asides:
Not that they deserved to be in the game the way they played, but the refs certainly weren't pulling for the Clippers, at least in the fourth period. Blake Griffin picked up his fifth personal foul on a charge-block call that went against him on a crucial defensive stand in the fourth when the Clippers still had a glimmer of hope. It wasn't an obvious call either way, but it could certainly have been called a charge. He picked up his sixth foul wrestling with Elton Brand for a rebound - Blake clearly had both hands on the ball, and had them there for awhile, when the whistle blew. I'm not completely sure I know how you can commit a loose ball foul when both hands are on the ball - I not clear on that at all. In fact, when the whistle first blew, I thought the refs were calling a jump ball. Then I realized they'd called a foul, so I assumed it was on Brand. It literally never occurred to me that the call might go against Blake. A couple of other minor calls went against them in the fourth - Mo Williams was called for stepping out of bounds when it appears that it was Foye who was out and not Williams; Mo throw in an off balance shot that may have been a three pointer, but the refs called it a two and didn't bother to even review it. The refs certainly weren't doing the Clippers any favors, but I don't think it would have mattered.
Last thing: if I were Eric Bledsoe's coach, I would have less hair than I already do. At the end of the third/start of the fourth quarter, Bledsoe led a mini-comeback, scoring eight points and assisting on two more and the Clippers cut the lead to eight. Then after a Philadelphia timeout, Bledsoe went hunting for a blocked shot in the lane, leaving Jodie Meeks, one of the best shooters in the league, all alone at the three point line. Meeks drained the three, and any momentum the Clippers had built while whittling the lead down drained away with it. Bledsoe had no business going after that ball - he literally cut of Blake, who had a much better angle on the play. The scouting report must surely have said to stay home on Meeks, but Bledsoe was off seeking out the highlight reel block I guess you take the good with the bad, but I'm anxious for Bledsoe to group up, maybe more than a little.
The team has a couple of days off before playing the Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon. Rumor has it that Eric Gordon will practice, and then will try to play on Saturday. Lets hope it's true - it's not a moment too soon.