That was weird.
So we were all getting pretty frustrated with this team when Shaun Livingston hit a floater to put the Nets up 65-54 with about nine minutes left in the third quarter. But then, things went from disheartening to downright depressing. Blake Griffin grabbed a defensive board where he didn't seem to tweak anything on the surface, reached for his Achilles, and then could barely move on the court. Terror ran through Clips Nation. And really, rightfully so. Blake would soon say he felt something in his Achilles and was worried, and after all, we are the same fanbase that saw Griffin land a tad bit awkwardly on a dunk that ended his rookie season before it started. (Hell, Livingston hit the last bucket before Griffin got that board. Remember him?) So yeah, it was scary.
But a couple buckets by Byron Mullens later (perhaps encouraging Clipper Steve to remind the Clips Nation contingent at Staples to look at the bright side) and Blake Griffin was back on the bench. He checked in soon after. Everyone held their breath, and then he did this. All was well.
So while that's a lot about Blake Griffin, that's a good majority of what we'll remember from an otherwise ugly game against a team devoid of about a bajillion dollars worth of talent. That, and the fact that J.J. Redick is, in fact, a very very lovable person. Griffin and Redick were dominant all night, particularly early when no other Clipper could find any sort of rhythm. Redick finished with a scorching 26 points on 9-14 shooting, 5-7 from three point land. Griffin had a season high 30 points on 19 shots, to go along with a dozen boards. These two were superb. DeAndre Jordan's gave in another quality performance on the defensive end, pitching in 16 boards and 5 blocks. DJ still does some little things that frustrate me but he's been mostly a very pleasant surprise. He hit nothing but net on the two last free throws of the night that gave you your final score.
Mullens (!) and Jamal Crawford both shot well (Mullens too! 4-4! Keep shooting buddy!) and hit some timely buckets off the bench. But aside from that, the game felt like a train wreck. Chris Paul managed to damn near get a triple double in a game where he was almost entirely disengaged until the last couple of minutes. How he piles stats like 12 points, 13 assists, 7 boards, 3 steals, and 1 turnover in a game where I barely noticed him breaking a sweat, I'll never know. But it's the kind of frustration we've seen less of this season but we'll probably have to remember it's something he does from time to time, especially against underwhelming competition. Hopefully he won't go 3-12 from the field next time. Jared Dudley continues to struggle offensively and you have to wonder if his knee is becoming too much for him to play on. Matt Barnes had a nice +/- but generally also felt disengaged for most of this game.
However when you look at the box score, everything looks pretty tidy. The Clips shot well from the field and from three and outrebounded the Nets substantially. The Nets didn't shoot well particularly for the night but man, they had such little actual talent out there that the lapses on defense the Clippers made that led to a double digit Jersey lead just felt absolutely inexcusable. Joe Johnson, Andray Blatche, and Jason Terry are all considerable NBA talents that can understandably score in bunches, but the rest of this team were 2nd and 3rd unit players and they kept up with the Clippers all night. The usual late rotations gave the Nets plenty of looks, we're just lucky their players eventually ran out of the ability to make them.
But, it's a long season. And sometimes it's good to just make it through a game like this with a W. And without injury. Up next, a familiar bunch of bears you may not like.
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