The Los Angeles Clippers started their six game Grammy road trip in the best possible manner, with a 27 point victory over the hapless Washington
Generals Wizards. The Clippers led by 11 after one quarter, by 24 at halftime, and by 34 heading into the fourth. The best part of the easy win is that the starters were able to rest the entire fourth quarter at the beginning of the road trip.
The Clippers were outstanding in the first half, though it must be noted that the Wizards put up little resistance. In fact, the Wizards were so bad, that even though LA was sloppy and unfocused in the third quarter, they still managed to expand the lead another 10 points. As an indication of how bad the Wizards are, the Clippers committed a season high 23 turnovers and shot 35% from the free throw line -- and still finished the game with a season high margin of victory. Usually the Clippers need Chris Paul to score in order to win games -- tonight he was 1 for 9 for 2 points and it didn't matter a bit.
Blake Griffin was outstanding, and looked much like a man playing against boys. He finished the game with a game high 21 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists in just 32 minutes. Had his presence been required longer, he might well have recorded his second triple double in three career games against the Wizards. He made 10 of 14 field goals, more than half of them dunks.
Blake's BFF DeAndre Jordan had a huge game as well, with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in just 33 minutes. DeAndre made 9 of 11 shots. Between the two of them, the young LAC front court put up 39 points, 22 rebounds, 8 assists, and 4 blocked shots, while shooting 76% from the field. Blake's 1 for 7 shooting from the foul line is the only thing that didn't look great.
The Clippers have waited a few years for DeAndre to 'get it' and it's certainly starting to pay off. It was particularly interesting comparing him to JaVale McGee tonight. McGee is one of the few specimens in the league comparable to Jordan -- infinitely long and uncannily athletic for his size, just like DJ. But as bad as Jordan's post defense and rebounding technique have been over the last few years, they are far superior to McGee's. Talk about not getting it. There's a lot of raw physical ability there, but that guy has no idea how to play basketball.
I feel like the Clippers haven't been given enough credit for the incredibly difficult schedule they've played so far this season, and that this game bears that out. The Clippers' record so far this season is often downplayed as having come primarily in home games, or diminished because their overall point differential has been unimpressive. Well, after 20 games this season, their point differential was 0.8, and after 21 it's 2.0, all thanks to the Washington
Generals Wizards. There aren't a lot of patsies in the league this year, but there are few, and this is the first time the Clippers have faced one. (Unfortunately, most of them are in the East, so Western Conference teams don't get to see them very often.) The Clippers won-loss record against the league's toughest schedule was plenty impressive in the first 20 games -- point differential only matters if every team has played the same schedule. Furthermore, tough teams play you tough at home or on the road -- and patsies are patsies the whole round over. Just look at Denver's road record and Washington's home record. 'Nuff said.
There's not a lot more to say about this game, other than a quick Brian Cook update. Cook came into the game shooting 16% from the field, just a few percentage points away from the worst shooting season since 1985. He proceeded to miss his first four shots in a matter of minutes. In fact, he was lucky not to be 0 for 5, as another miss was wiped away when he was called for an offensive foul before the shot. As of that point, he was 6 for 41 on the season, less than 15%. I was actually feeling sorry for the guy, because while he's clearly not good, he's also not this bad. He managed to make his next shot and finish the game 1 for 5, and the good news is that when you go into a game shooting 16%, you can shoot 1 for 5 and actually improve your shooting percentage.
The Clippers will have a much more difficult test on Monday in Orlando. The Magic haven't exactly been great lately, but they are light years ahead of the Wizards.