So, yeah. That happened. In my preview for the Los Angeles Clippers' game against the Philadelphia 76ers, I almost felt a bit bad for calling this a tuneup for Chris Paul. But the way the Sixers have been playing, and knowing how the Clippers would be pumped up for CP3's return, I just couldn't imagine a scenario where this game would be competitive. The Clippers have lost to some bad teams this season, but there was no way they weren't going to win this one.
Even so, I never imagined this either.
I could throw a bunch of interim scores at you. The Clippers led 28-5 midway through the first quarter. They led 89-33 at one point in the third. At one point the Sixers trailed by 42 AFTER a 14-0 run. It was 100-51 at the end of three, long after the starters had finished for the evening. It was just silly.
It's interesting that Paul is very motivated to return for the All Star Game in New Orleans, which is one reason he pushed so hard to get back on the court this week -- because in many ways this felt like an All Star Game for the Clippers on offense. They did whatever they wanted, they took crazy shots, they threw passes off the backboard. It felt like an exhibition of some sort. But I guess the All Star Game isn't the right analogy, as that involves two good teams.
As it happens the Globetrotters are going to be here in STAPLES next Sunday, and that's what it really felt like. The Globetrotters and the Washington Generals just arrived a week early.
Blake Griffin might easily have finished with a 40-15-10 triple double had he been required to play more than 25 minutes. As it was, he went for 26 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and made 11-14 from the field. Jamal Crawford finished with 21 points on 15 shots. DeAndre Jordan had 10 points and 20 rebounds.
As for Paul, he looked great, but we'll see how he looks against actual NBA competition on Wednesday. Any concerns that the Clippers free-flowing offense make take some time to re-integrate Paul into the mix were, shall we say, unfounded, as the LAC put up 100 points through three quarters.
Paul played 23 minutes, not because he was restricted, but because the game was far beyond doubt. He finished with seven points, eight assists and four steals and looked to be moving freely and smoothly. He first two jump shots were nothing but net.
The game was so far out of hand that the primary interest of the fourth quarter was whether Sasha Vujacic would score. He was completely dreadful (he won't be getting a second 10 day contract based on this game) but he did eventually make a couple of shots -- to the inexplicable delight of the STAPLES Center crowd who apparently loved him as a Laker.
I've suspected that this new Clippers team, with the new and improved Blake Griffin and the return of Chris Paul, would be pretty good. Bear in mind, they still didn't have J.J. Redick for this one. The Sixers are bad -- really, really bad -- but no one has done this to them. No one has done this to anyone.
Welcome back CP3. This could be fun.