You know the deal. Let's jump into some game details, followed by big picture stuff. The rundown of what you need to know following this afternoon's 19-point win over the Clippers' Canadian counterparts.
- Big Day for Bled: On his 23rd birthday, Eric Bledsoe had 14 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks in only 20 minutes as he continues to stuff the stat sheet almost every game. The young point guard's future with the team is uncertain, but it's looking more and more like he'll have a monster career no matter where he ends up. For more on Bledsoe, check out my article on him.
- Rest for the Starters: Chris Paul and Blake Griffin continue to play low minutes, with only 28 and 29 today, respectively. It would have been the third game in a row in which no starter appeared in the fourth quarter had Matt Barnes not been questionably ejected in the 4th quarter, forcing Caron Butler back into the game.
- Lamar Odom resurgence: Here's game 20, and he's looking pretty good in a slow game for Lamar today. He had 4 points and 5 boards with one each of assists, steals, and blocks. However, Odom is still struggling with his jumpshot, as his 0-4 effort from deep today leaves him at 2-22 on the season.
- Bench Reigns Triumphant: A Tribe Called Bench. Bench Fries. Whatever you want to call them, there's little doubt that the Clippers reserves are among the best, if not the best, in the league. Today, every singe backup for the home team was + in the +/- column; and while that's not a perfect measure, it's useful because Bledsoe(+21), Odom(+18), Barnes(+15), and Turiaf(+17) normally all play together.
- Defensive Stand in the 4th: The Clippers entered the final frame with a narrow 4 point lead, and the starters on the bench. All the backups did was hold the Raptors to 10 points in the final 12 minutes. 8 points in the final 11 minutes. 4 points in the final 9 minutes. The Raptors did not make a field goal from a DeMar DeRozan putback with 9:06 to play until Linas Kleiza made a three with 19 seconds remaining and no defense to speak of. 4th Quarter Scoring: Toronto Raptors: 10, Eric Bledsoe: 10.
- Turnovers and Rebounding: Obviously, whatever team scores the most points wins. There's two ways to score more points than your opponents: get more possessions, and convert more possessions. It's hard to control your FG%, but there's two ways to get more possessions: winning the turnover battle and the rebounding battle. Today, the Clippers turned the ball over only 9 times, and had 11 steals en route to Toronto's 14 turnovers.
- LAC also had 15 offensive boards, and won the total rebounding battle 45-39. All that made for 2 more shots and 17 more free throws for the Clippers- probably 9 or 10 more possessions for the Clippers in this one made a huge difference.
1. Los Angeles Clippers 14-6
2. Golden State Warriors 13-7 (1)
3. Los Angeles Lakers 9-11 (5)
4.Sacramento Kings 7-12 (6.5)
5 Phoenix Suns 7-14 (7.5)
The Clippers maintain a full game cushion for first place, and a large lead over the bottom three teams in the division. The Lakers have a tough game tonight against the Jazz.