This game was played with a very nonchalant style from the beginning. After the Clippers got out to a 13-0 start, it became clear that they were going to win this one big, and the rest of the game played out as somewhat of a final runthrough for the starters, a chance for them to get a nice run in before the post-season begins. The Nuggets suddenly started caring about the game in the third quarter and cut the lead to single digits for a little bit, but the Clippers were able to finish it out without much trouble despite abbreviated nights for Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
The Nuggets were the perfect opponent for the Clippers on this night. Though they recently played a very physical and emotional game against the Warriors and have been more competitive over the past couple of weeks, they didn't take much exception when the Clippers started getting easy basket after easy basket against them. They provided minimal resistance until late in the game and gladly accepted Los Angeles' invitation to play at a fluid and fast pace. It wasn't much of a competition but it was somewhat entertaining because of how well the Clippers perform when they get up and down the floor.
This game had some importance for the Clippers in that they need every opportunity they can to work J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford back into game shape after they missed time with injuries. This was Redick's best game since returning, making four of his six three point attempts on his way to 18 points. He flowed into open spots and did a more admirable job defensively in this one and he didn't seem to bothered by the pace, which is a good sign for his conditioning. Crawford is still out of sync and it wouldn't surprise me if tomorrow night's game against the Blazers was dedicated to getting Crawford a bunch of scoring chances to see if he find his rhythm. He was just 3-of-9 from the floor and had four turnovers in his 31 minute tonight.
Just about the only other possible takeaway from this game has to do with the unit Doc Rivers decided to close the game with. With Paul and Griffin both getting to sit out the entire final period, the second unit got some nice playing time together.
For the final five minutes of the game Doc replaced Glen Davis, who teetered the line between hilariously reckless and somewhat effective in this game, with DeAndre Jordan. The final line-up ended up being Darren Collison-Crawford-Matt Barnes-Hedo Turkoglu-Jordan, and we are likely to see something similar in the post-season since the defense with Davis at center has been disastrous (as has the offense, really). The post-season will allow Doc to stretch Jordan's minutes and that's going to be a good thing for a second unit that has not performed well of late (I'm sure Griffin will see some time as a smallball five as well).
Not much else was worth taking away from this game, other than the fact that the Clippers got a franchise record of 57 wins on the season. This was essentially a meaningless game for the Clippers unless the team believes two things: 1) That Oklahoma City will lose to Detroit tomorrow and 2) That having the two seed would be advantageous.
Getting up to the two seed only changes the first round matchup for the Clippers, as the second round is likely to be a date with the Thunder either way. And getting up to the two seed means going up against either Dallas and Memphis when the Clippers are currently lined up to face the wounded and out of sorts Warriors. While the thought of the Splash Brothers getting hot in Oracle can be troubling, the truth is that Golden State is a defensive team that just lost its best defensive player. The Mavericks have played the Clippers close every time this season and we don't need to talk about the history with Memphis. The Warriors are missing their second best player right now and they may be the easiest out of the three for the Clippers.
- We can't go any further without talking about that Chris Paul spin move on the baseline. What excites you guys more, when CP3 pulls off some wizardry with his handle and finds his way to the rim or when Blake gets up for an authoritative dunk? This wouldn't be much of a contest for me in most cases because I prefer an aesthetic act of skill over an aesthetic act of athleticism, but Griffin is so majestic with the way he flies through the air, so it's a tough call.
- The game started to turn in the third quarter when the Clippers started posting up Blake and he forced the ball up to the rim a couple of times. I think he was just trying to put the game away and I don't blame him on this particular night.
- Speaking of Blake, he's going to miss the game tomorrow if his 16th technical isn't rescinded. Hopefully it is. Not because the Clippers need him tomorrow, just so he doesn't lose any money for it. I don't think Blake is going to play anyways. On the call itself: I think it has to be made. I get that he was going after the ball, but he clobbered Mozgov in the face. Even if it wasn't intentional, it looked pretty forceful.
- Vintage Randy Foye out there tonight, huh?
- It was kind of hard for the ball not to move tonight with both teams being so out of sorts with their rotations and closeouts, but it's nice to see the Clippers display such chemistry with the post-season approaching. There is a reason they have the best offense in the league right now and it has to do with how dedicated they are to moving the ball to find optimal looks.