Well, it's still preseason, and the Warriors were playing without arguably their two best players in Stephen Curry and Andew Bogut, but the Los Angeles Clippers made quick work of Golden State tonight in a game that was not nearly as close as the 17 point final margin of victory would indicate.
The Clippers starters were ice cold to start the game, but once they got the lid off the basket they put on a show. Leading by 13 at halftime, the came out in the third quarter like a team that wanted to remove any doubt early and take the rest of the night off, which is exactly what they did. When the three Golden State defenders inexplicably went from triple teaming Griffin to completely ignoring him on the baseline, allowing him a rare chance to make a dunk contest dunk in the half court offense, the Clippers lead grew to 26 with 4:25 remaining. At that point the Clippers were on a 71-38 run from the point when they started making shots. The offense looked devastating through that stretch, certainly with the starters on the floor. It was quite impressive.
But as always in preseason, we're going to try not to get hung up on wins and losses which don't matter, and instead focus on player development issues. Let's get a couple of weak points out of the way first.
The foul shooting of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan continues to be atrocious. Blake made his first two tonight, and then missed six straight to finish 2-8; Jordan shot 2-5. Thanks to their struggling bigs, the Clippers as a team shot just 12-23, barely making more than half. Imagine how lopsided the game would have been if the Clippers could shoot free throws. All we can do now is hope that they're better during the regular season. They on the other hand should be practicing.
The three point shooting of the team continues to be poor as well, just 4-17 tonight (though that was not help by garbage time by any means). Billups needs to get back and he needs to knock down threes when he does. Willie Green got open look after open look tonight, but couldn't hit them. He did make one, but he had to get a very friendly bounce for that one to go in.
Eric Bledose, who has been terrific in the preseason, spent a lot of time tonight driving into trouble with no idea how to get out. Amazingly, his stat line does not look that bad -- eight points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals -- and it's nice that even when he's off, he's still going to have a positive impact in some ways. But he also had four turnovers in limited minutes (and it certainly felt like more). He spent most of the night completely out of control.
On the plus side, the Clippers did an outstanding job of taking care of the ball (we won't count the fourth quarter when the second and third units began getting VERY careless). Through most of the game, the Clippers had just three turnovers. If we don't give the ball away, you give yourself a chance to score, and that's a good thing.
DeAndre Jordan (free throw shooting notwithstanding) continued his preseason tear. He scored 18 points on 8-11 shooting, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked 3 shots, all in just 24 minutes. At least six of his field goals were dunks, several of them more than a little emphatic, and he also opened the game with his surprisingly effective right handed jump hook. After what is now six preseason games, I'm beginning to believe this is not an illusion -- Jordan can actually score now. Crazy. DeAndre led both teams in scoring tonight, a statement I feel rather certain I have never before made.
Chris Paul is just so Chris Paul. As I was watching him carve up the Warriors, I admit to thinking for a moment "At least I'm not the only he makes look stupid." He finished with 11 points and 9
rebounds assists against just 1 turnover.
Blake Griffin finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists and was well on his way to a triple double with more minutes (he played just 25). His passing was particularly adept tonight, and he twice found Jordan at the rim for dunks (once on a lob and once on a left handed bullet). Big to big passing is so important -- if Jordan's man is cheating over looking to help on Blake the right pass at the right instant can free DeAndre for a jam. Blake appears more willing to throw that pass tonight.
All in all a very impressive win. Next up: the Lakers. Sure, it's only preseason, but it's always great to beat the purple and gold.