The Los Angeles Clippers were without Blake Griffin and Caron Butler Saturday night, and fell to the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.
I haven't quite figured out how to publish to the cover in the new layout, so I'm editing Steve's post. All crazy things said below are mine, not Steve's.
The Clippers lacked Blake Griffin, Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Grant Hill, Willie Green, and Trey Thompkins- so it's not especially surprising that they lost this one. In the places of the missing veterans, Travis Leslie, Matt Barnes, and Ronny Turiaf started.
DeAndre Jordan's post game continued to look dominant tonight, as he went 5-6 for 13 points and 9 rebounds (I think only one of his makes was a dunk.) Chris Paul looked nice, with 17 points, 9 assists, and 4 steals. He's not in playoff form but that's to be expected here in October. Matt Barnes was the surprise of the game, leading both teams with 22 points and also adding 9 boards. It's a shame that once the games that count start he'll be a third string player on the wing.
As for the reserve backcourt, Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford both has games that were fairly in line with what I would expect. Bledsoe put in 14 points on a dismal 3-10 shooting night, and while he only added 2 each of steals and assists in the box score, Bloodsoe played with the same fervor defensively that we've come to enjoy from him. Crawford added 9 points but also helped out with four assists. It was gratifying to see Jamal, who has a reputation as a chucker, dropping some dimes to his teammates when he drew extra attention from the defense.
Three major issues showed for the Clippers tonight: rebounding, live-ball turnovers and foul trouble for the bigs.
For rebounding, there's not a lot to see. LA lost the battle 50-35 and allowed 18 offensive boards- including some gruesome 4- or 5-shot possessions for the Jazz. I don't think this issue will be major- the Clippers were without their leading rebounder tonight in Griffin, and most teams don't have the legion of capable bigs that Utah possesses. Seriously, I know they have all those guys, yet every time I see them it's the same shock- Jefferson, Millsap, Favors, and Kanter are all good players. Very few teams have four quality big men.
The live-ball turnovers are an issue. Barnes and Crawford each had 6 turnovers tonight as the Clippers totaled 19 as a team. LAC faced this same issue last season (and for quite a few years, actually), and these intercepted passes and misdribbles are killer- Utah was constantly out on the break tonight, lobbing on Lob City.
Foul trouble for the Clippers big men, was, well... troubling. Jordan and Turiaf had 4 and 5, respectively, and Hollins fouled out after 24 minutes of action. Now, Griffin will be in the game normally, and hopefully Odom will be reliable at the 4/5, but I think the Clippers will struggle against teams that have lots of good bigs. Fortunately, there aren't too many of those.