Well that was fun, citizens. The formerly winless Clippers are winless no more, having dismantled a team that won 50 games last season and was widely picked to be among the top teams in the Western Conference this season. To be clear, Oklahoma City didn't come close to living up to their reputation this day, but maybe the Clippers had something to do with that.
With Baron Davis missing a second straight game due to a sore knee, Eric Bledsoe got the start again, and he was an absolute revelation. We've seen the athleticism at times, but the truth is we've never seen anything close to this level of play from the kid. I don't think he had a game like this at Kentucky. He finished the game with 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting, 8 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. His defense was solid all night long, and he ran the team with a steady hand. He's a blur in the open court, and went coast to coast on a couple of occasions. And who knew he had the tear drop in his arsenal? He plays much bigger than his six foot height, climbing the ladder to reject Thabo Sefolosha tonight, after chasing down Manu Ginobili on Monday. Maybe he's playing way above his head, but as of right now, he looks like the steal of the draft. Basically, he has now probably displaced Randy Foye as the backup point guard, and the future of the position looks to be secured. He got a standing ovation when Vinny Del Negro took him out in the fourth quarter.
He wasn't the only stud in the Clippers' backcourt tonight. For the second straight game Eric Gordon was a picture of confidence giong to the basket. He was efficient (10 for 17 from the field) and active (5 rebounds, 4 assists). Importantly, for the first time this season, Gordon found his outside shot, making 3 of 7 threes after starting the season 3 for 21. The Clippers, with Bledsoe pushing the ball up, played at a very fast tempo tonight (107 points is 16 more than they've previously scored), but when the break wasn't there, it usually fell to Gordon to make something happen. And more times than not it was something good.
This was definitely a night for Club D(evelopment), more than a night for Club O(ptimism). The Optimists presume that Baron Davis and Chris Kaman can play like All Stars, living up to their resumes. Well, tonight, Baron sat out, and Kaman was 2 for 9 for 4 points. In fact, DeAndre Jordan actually played a minute more than Kaman, and when was the last time that happened when Kaman was healthy? Instead, the Clippers got great contributions from their U23 squad - Gordon (27), Bledsoe (17) and Blake Griffin (18) led the team in scoring, and Jordan and Al-Farouq Aminu pitched in with 12 points and 6 rebounds between them.
One veteran who also made a major contribution was Ryan Gomes. In fact, in his post game comments, VDN singled out Bledsoe and Gomes first. Gomes' drew the assignment against Kevin Durant and harrassed him into a very forgettable night - 6 for 24 from the field, 0 for 10 from three. Importantly, he did it without fouling. Durant, who was leading the league in free throws per game going into this one at almost 12, only took 4 free throws. I'll look it up later, but I have to assume that it's been a LONG time since Kevin Durant was held to 16 points in a game. Gomes also made back to back threes in the second half to build the lead back up after OKC had made a run.
This is a huge win for the team - they won't be the last team in the league to record a win (that honor will now go to either Houston or Detroit). And maybe, just maybe, it gives them enough confidence to grab a win or two on the very difficult four game trip that lies ahead.