Perhaps Ralph said it best, with 9:30 to go in the fourth period, "They played a great first quarter." You really don't have to read past this, as that pretty much sums it up, but I might offer a free iPad or something halfway through, so that'd just be your loss.
Despite starting out on a particularly high note, tying last season's win total (7) in only their 12th game of the season, the Bobs have gone on to lose 37 of their next 43 games. So, you might say that they weren't exactly coming into this game hot. That said, they certainly didn't look like the worst team in the NBA in the first quarter. They shot a scorching 59% in the first quarter (13/22) and grabbed 12 boards, taking a 30-24 lead into the second period. Despite the box score, the Clippers did play a pretty lackluster first quarter (at least based on what we expect of them now). They ended up shooting 52%, but it was much uglier than that. But the Bobs were really just playing insane ball, namely thanks to the not-so-surprising great play of Gerald Henderson (more on him later). Of course, then the Bobs proceeded to give us some of the worst three quarters this side of the Mississippi.
Look, I know that phrase doesn't really apply here, but I was just watching Maverick, which is a pretty funny movie from an era where Mel Gibson was intentionally funny and Jodie Foster was actually kinda hot... but that's neither here nor there. Come on, focus people.
As I was saying, the Bobs played pretty terrible for the last 36 minutes of this game. They shot a dreadful 34% from the field, thanks to some pretty intense defense by a Clipper squad that, for some reason, seemed out for blood. In a game that should have been a trap game, the Clippers (particularly Blake) seemed to be on a mission. Perhaps they heard Brent Barry, the most important voice in basketball, say they weren't legit contenders. Perhaps they did.
Poor Bobs. They aren't a very good team, but they certainly have potential. The aforementioned Gerald Henderson has quietly been on a tear lately. He's having a career year (just barely playing starter-quality basketball, with a PER of 15.2). He was nearly unstoppable in the first half (7/10 for 14 pts) and ended up with a nice line of 24 pts on 19 shots, 3 steals, and 3 assists in 35 minutes. For the month of February, he's only failed to score in double digits one time (out of 12 games) and has shot 46.7% from the field. Not too shabby, right? According to my skimming of the Bobs' blog (http://www.rufusonfire.com/), he's one of their key offensive players, and it showed tonight. I always thought he looked like he'd be a solid NBA player.
Kemba is the Bobs' team leader in PER, with a very respectable PER of 19.1. He's pretty fun to watch, as he seems to make any shot look like he's taking a game winner. Speaking of which, Kemba's got a pretty jumper. If he didn't take so many off-balance threes, I'd bet he'd be closer to 40%. Great rotation, great arc. Me gusta, Kemba. Not much to say about any of the other Bobs, but here's to hoping they get a guy like Cody Zeller or a healthy Nerlens Noel. Oh, and that reminds me: isn't it a luxury to have bigs who can pass? It's pretty tough to watch the passes coming out of the hands of Haywood, Biyombo, Adrien, and Mullens. I mean, it's like four DJs out there.
Okay enough of that, let's talk about the Clippers.
Caron Butler showed us why he would have been missed if the Clippers had traded him for Trevor Ariza. He shot the lights out, going 4-6 from downtown. I have to say, having Chauncey out there really forces guys to stay home on defense, and adds another guy who always knows how to make the right pass. I don't know how many times, since Chauncey's been back, that we've seen Butler at the tail end of a ball swinging around the perimeter, to knock down the corner three. Hey Caron. Bingo.
Speaking of which, did anyone really expect Lamar to knock down 2/3 threes again? After going 7 of his first 58 threes, he's now made 4 of his last 6. Forget small sample sizes, I'm a believer. Oh, and let's not forget about Matt Barnes. 17 points on 10 shots, with 4 steals and 7 boards? Atta boy, Matthew. We don't need this guy to play near-perfect basketball all season, but with a roster this deep, it's nice to have a very solid rotation of guys who can do their jobs.
And now for the Point God and the Mighty Son of Tommy and Gail (uh.. Blake).
Chris Paul didn't seem to look for his shot much, but he didn't really have to, getting everyone involved (no one scored less than 3 points) and racking up 13 assists. Not much else to say, except this: All Hail the Point God.
Please just say it.
Um.. anyway, Blake Griffin was a freak of nature, doing things that don't even look possible. I mean, the Bobs are 6th in the league in blocks, yet Blake had absolutely no trouble getting to the rim. And it was mostly because he was doing a fantastic job of moving to the right spots to get the best angles. The pick-and-roll where he's close enough to the basket to leap without dribbling is a thing of beauty. I honestly don't think there is anyone else in the league who can get the ball at the elbow and leap for a thunderous dunk without more than a pivot. I suppose it's not surprising that he's by far the league leader in dunks, given that Dwight can't really explode anymore, leaving no one to challenge Blake besides twin knuckleheads JaVale McGee and DeAndre JoRdan. How great it will be to have Blake for the next 5 years, Chris Paul or no Chris Paul. There's no one more entertaining in the league.
Well, that about wraps it up. Good win for the Clippers over the less-than-impressive Bobs, particularly because the Clips kept their foot on the gas and never let them breathe. Cheers.
(To any Bobcats fans, I apologize if calling your team "the Bobs" was offensive. Please blame it entirely on muckduck. It is his fault, not mine, because I am very nice and love underdogs. Thank you.)