For the diehard Clipper fan it's hard to know quite how to feel about a game like this. We all hate the Lakers, sure. But... are these the Lakers at all? Pau Gasol is there, but there's no Kobe Bryant, and the rest of the starters are relative unknowns... none of the starters other than Pau and Jodie Meeks were even on the Lakers last year. After a thousand years of Los Angeles basketball domination, after eons of ridicule from all our Laker-fan friends and family, it seems the worm has finally and fully turned. The Clippers are good. The Lakers are bad.
Of course you can't really dismiss any NBA team quite that easily... and it was these same Lakers that came out and embarrassed the Clips in the first game of the season, dusting the over-confident Clips 116-103.
Tonight, the Clippers came out and before the game started, Doc Rivers unveiled a surprise... he had JJ Redick, who hasn't played in 21 games, in the starting lineup. It might be because Redick's been a critical early scorer, or Rivers might have want to play Redick while he's warmed up and not cold off the bench. But the reason didn't matter, the result was positive. Redick scored ten of the Clips first 22 points, cut and weaved through the Lakers porous defense all night, consistenly finding... and hitting open shots.
The Lakers weren't giving in without a fight and came out running hard... though it didn't help much. I'm not sure Mike D'Antoni has the horses for this kind of offense, and by using it, he seems to willingly undermine one of, if not his best player in Pau Gasol.
But it wasn't Gasol, Redick, or D'Antoni who were the big stories in this game. Blake Griffin continued his superior play. It might be the fact that the Clippers have better shooters on the floor than in the past, but Griffin's determination when he gets the ball in the block is very real. He's daring people to foul him... it's become like he actually ENJOYS going to the line.
The Clips are up big by the end of the first quarter, 43-25. Griffin's got a smooth EIGHTEEN. Six of them are from the foul line. Of course, nothing's this easy and Doc Rivers moves to the bench, and brings in Ryan Hollins, Matt Barnes, alongside former Laker Darius Morris. These guys, along with Jamal Crawford go a whopping three for fifteen. In this game, against the defenseless, wounded Lakers, it doesn't matter. The Clips hold on and are up by eighteen at the half 70 to 52.
In the third quarter, Blake Griffin blows the lid off and the game is essentially over at the end of the third with the Clips up by an extraordinary 41 points. Griffin finishes with 31 points, 12 boards, and five assists, and he doesn't play a minute of the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter is meaningless and I'm not going to bother. Suffice it to say, the Lakers don't get any better and the Clippers (surprisingly perhaps) don't get any worse.
- The big story, again, is Griffin. The Lakers have absolutely no answer for Griffin's speed, shooting, and pure athleticism.
- JJ Redick had 19 points in 23 minutes. His energy, and movement without the ball invigorated the Clipper offense without the benefit of Chris Paul.
- Darren Collison looks like a real point guard tonight. 31 minutes, 20 points and he continually blows by the poor defending Lakers in transition.
- Darius Morris' plays twelve minutes,
his first minutes in a Clipper uni.Paint me confused, Rivers seemed to admit to his own mistake in bringing in Morris by re-signing Maalik Wayns a day after he signed the former. And he gave Wayns a few minutes against Boston Wednesday night. Tonight, Wayns only gets extreme garbage minutes. Huh? (Maybe my conspiracy theory still holds water.)
- DeAndre Jordan had another workman-like 13/10 with 7 blocks. But to my eyes DJ looked fatigued and lost in the first half. There was one particularly embarrassing play where Pau Gasol easily went around him. In the second half it was a different story when DJ had the bulk of his blocks.
- Speaking of Gasol, there seems to be absolutely no room for him or Chris Kaman in Mike D'Antoni's running offense. Why are these guys on this team?
- To my eyes the Lakers best player right now is the lefty D-leaguer Kendall Marshall. He's big, he can handle, and he seems to have a nice shot.
- The Crawford-Redick thing is a bit of a conundrum for the Clips. Crawford played better with the starting unit, but Redick adds so much within the offense (and better defense) that he leaves Rivers no choice but to give him extended minutes. Tonight Crawford spend the whole first half looking rather lost.
- Not much to complain about... except one thing. I know we've all been barking about it all season but one of the reasons I hate writing these recaps is that I actually have to watch the whole game. And that means I can't skip the bad part. Ryan Hollins is the bad part. Every time he steps on the floor he makes me want to cry. He's a third string center, not a second string anything. Byron Mullens, Antawn Jamison are busts. The Clips need a big. They can get away with Hollins against teams like the Lakers but... this isn't gonna work against the good teams.