The LA Clippers beat down the Sacramento Kings in journeyman-like fashion tonight... and that's a good thing. Not much drama, just a solid road win against a team that's missing some critical pieces (leadership, a point guard, a plan). Here's the box
The first three quarters of the game were a bit of a replay of other recent games for the Clips. First quarter, Blake Griffin is a beast, he scores ten quick points and the boys in red, white, and blue are up early. Griffin pulls it off with a combination of stuffs, whirling up-and-unders, and a jumper or two. He looks all-world out there. Then, in a pattern that's becoming disturbingly typical, Blake vanishes and scores only four more points in the game. Good thing the Clips didn't need any more from him.
The second quarter rolls in and Vinny Del Negro's feeling so good about his team that he replaces all five starters with his second unit. That ten point lead? That goes away really really fast. Led by an unlikely kid from Utah named Jimmer Fredette, the Kings go on a 20 to 4 run and the Clips are down by eight with a couple of minutes left before the half.Yikes. Here's the thing about the man called Jimmer. He looks like a slow white tweener guard, and actually, that's exactly what he is. But he can SHOOT. Fortunately for the Clippers, Keith Smart, the Sacramento coach (who was schooled on the Clipper sidelines by the bald genius, Bob Weiss), plays right into the Clipper's hands by carefully keeping Jimmer on the bench through the entire third quarter. Whatever heat the small-white-hope had was gone.
Fredette's benching probably has something to do with the fact that the Kings defense makes the Clips offense look AWESOME, because that eight point lead disappeared with some nice Clipper bench play, particularly on the part of a guy named Bobby Simmons. Marko Jaric drove the lane, dished to Elton Brand, who kicked out of the double team and found Simmons waiting in the right corner. Bingo! Yeah, that Bobby Simmons. Score tied at the half 57-all.
The third quarter was mostly back and forth, with one singular difference becoming apparent. It's weird, you know, the Kings are kind of miserable. They've got a lot of interesting pieces, they've got a real monster in DeMarcus Cousins along with Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, Fredette, John Salmons, some other nice pieces. They, like the Clippers have a coach who is... decent, but... questionable. (Is that fair? I'm trying to be fair.) But what they don't have is Chris Paul. I'm convinced, if the Kings have Chris Paul and the Clippers have Isaiah Thomas, Kings win. Kings win. Kings win. Make no mistake, the difference in the Clippers between this year and last year is Chris Paul. Chris Paul and nothing else.
In the fourth, Vinny brings out the all-reserve five again only this time
he gets lucky it works. Mo Williams gets hot, Simmons hits another three, and thankfully, Chris Paul returns. Clips are up by nineteen at one point and the evening is over. Good night Sacramento. Hello Phoenix.
- Mike Smith broke out "sine qua non" during the Prime Ticket broadcast. I enjoyed that. Only Mike and Ralph would go there... and this is why we love them. But I'm not sure Mike used the phrase correctly. Did he say it meant that Blake was "perfect" or "the best"? I thought it meant something more like "essential" or "necessary".
- The other guys. Caron Butler and Randy Foye played some sine qua non of their own. Butler took it to the basket with a a sweet one-handed jam in the first half. Foye looked like a starting two guard. They finished with 13 and 16. Just what you need from them.
- The bench showed up. Bobby Simmons had thirteen very efficient points... and Mo Williams seemed to regain his shooting skills and added 18. Eric Bledsoe saw ten minutes, had only two points, 3 dimes, and fouled out.
- Is DeMarcus Cousins a center or a power forward? Does it matter? If this guy gets his head screwed on right, he can be the real thing. He might already be the real thing. He's huge, controls the paint, shoots the little twelve footer, and is nifty around the basket. And I think he's getting better.
- Chuck Hayes. With 2:30 left in the third, DeMarcus Cousins collects his fourth foul. Yahoo, right?! No. Because you know who plays for the Kings? That's right, Chuck Hayes. If Blake Griffin is the Beast, then Chuck Hayes is the BeastMaster. Only... it's probably too little, too late, Blake only plays a little more (he clocked just 30 minutes flat). I guess, Keith Smart doesn't KNOW that Chuck Hayes is the Beast Master, so maybe we shouldn't tell him. Chuck Hayes isn't tall, but he's built like my grandfather's Buick. The dude's a Roadmaster.
- I watched part of this game from my wife's bathtub. I'm not a bath-type, but it turns out the only tv in the house not tied up with other, more important television events was the one in the master bath. We put a big tub in there a while ago for the Minister of War, though I've only ever used it once before... but when in Rome, you know? So, I watched a little of the third quarter up to my neck in suds. And it came to me. A revelation. You know why Blake Griffin isn't scoring later in games... because he's tired. His game is so relentless, so angry, and so reliant on this incredible athleticism that it costs him buckets of energy. He should play fewer minutes, with longer stays on the bench. It's just a theory. Let's tell Vinny.
- Chris Paul, yawn, had twenty-two and nine assists. If I didn't look at the boxscore I would have thought he went 30 and 15.
Stay tuned, we do it again tomorrow, 7:30 pm when the Clips travel to Phoenix to face the Suns.