The Clippers came dangerously close to giving the Washington Wizards only their second road win of the season, which would have been a lowlight in the season to rival the loss that snapped Cleveland's 26 game losing streak. But trailing by two with seven seconds to go and John Wall at the line for two free throws, Wall missed the second, leaving the Clippers one last chance. Inbounding with 5 seconds left now down three, LA got the ball to Eric Gordon. He pump faked to let JaVale McGee sail by (McGee had spiked his last shot attempt only a few seconds earlier) and then lined up a three pointer that was perfect. Tie game. The Clippers finally closed out the game in the second overtime.
[A quick aside - the Clippers have now won three games this season thanks at least in part to last second misses at the foul line by three consecutive star guards, all of whom played for John Calipari in college. Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and now Wall have all missed last second free throws, either allowing the Clippers to win in regulation or allowing the Clippers the opportunity to tie the game and send it to overtime.]
The crucial three pointer was redemption for Gordon - at the end of regulation, and then again in the first overtime, he mishandled, committing key unforced turnovers. If the Clippers had lost the game, those miscues would have loomed very large. Gordon has always been more than a little slapdash with the basketball, but his handle had seemed to be tightening up before his injury. Tonight he was as sloppy as ever - he committed five turnovers, and most if not all were of his own making. In addition to the two mishandles at the end of regulation, he also kicked the ball away at the end of the first half, turning the Clippers' two-for-one opportunity into a John Wall dunk in the blink of an eye. After a long layoff, and with a sore right wrist, Gordon has ample excuses. But let's hope he can find the grip again, because it's pretty tough to have a closer who is as likely to dribble off his own foot as he is to score the winning bucket.
The Clippers were incredibly dependent on just three players tonight: Griffin (33), Gordon (32) and Chris Kaman (28) combined to score 93 of the team 127 points. It was so distinctly a three man show that through three quarters, no other Clipper had made more than one field goal. Fortunately, Mo Williams stepped up to join the other three in the fourth quarter, scoring twelve points in the period.
Kaman came within 2 points of getting his career high of 30 points, but he finished with 28, keeping his 20wo30 streak alive. In addition to the 28 points, he also had 14 rebounds and 4 blocks in what was surely his best game of the season.
Speaking of milestones, with his pass to Randy Foye late in the second overtime which resulted in a dagger three pointer, Blake Griffin recorded his first career triple double. Ironically, this is how he decided to bust out of his slump of seven consecutive games without double digits, by skipping right over the double double and going straight to the triple double. ["Schwartz had created a slight breach of protocol by skipping over the double dare, and going straight to the dreaded triple dog dare" - name that movie!]
Should the Clippers have needed two overtimes to beat the Wizards? Of course not - at least not on paper. But the Clippers seem very capable of playing down or up to their competition, and this game was no exception. After jumping out to an impressive early lead, the Clippers started turning the ball over incessantly, allowing the Wizards to get back into the game.It made for an exciting game, if not exactly a well-played game.
John Wall scored a career high 32, and also had 10 assists. Not to be outdone, fellow rookie Jordan Crawford scored 25 points himself starting in the place of Nick Young. Crawford also had 10 assists. McGee and the much-maligned Yi Jianlian both also played well, combining for 40 points on 20 for 28 shooting. Yi joined Wall in scoring a season high, and Crawford was only 2 points away from his career high. So now you see why other teams get up for Clippers games: it's a career high waiting to happen.
It was the Clippers' first overtime victory of the season. They've really been terrible in close games overall, and they were 0-4 in overtime games before this one. But all they had to do was to find a team that was just as young and erratic as they are. The Wizards are that team.