The Wizards are facing far more significant injuries than the Clippers are, but they hung around here and there enough times to give the Clippers something to think about. But whenever they did, Chris Paul had an answer. Particularly in the 4th quarter after a surprisingly effective use of Hack-a-DJ.
Paul had one of his best games as a Clipper tonight, with 38 points, 12 assists, and 3 steals on an absurdly efficient 11-14 from the field, 5-7 from downtown, and 11-11 from the line. It felt like I didn't even notice what kind of a gem Paul was having until the Wizards cut the lead down to 12 in the 4th and Paul scored 12 of the next 14 points (and assisted on a Blake Griffin dunk that took the other 2 points) that included a dagger three pointer from way beyond the 3 point line that effectively iced the game. Paul was absolutely brilliant tonight, and his cool down the stretch still gives me goosebumps even after all these games of watching him control the tempo in crunch time. He's a very special player, and it's been a fairly memorable 2 years having him on this squad.
The rest of the starters chipped in, all scoring 15+ points. The big news before tip-off tonight was that Jamal Crawford was getting his first start as a Clipper, and he played reasonably well while effectively help jump-start the team to start both halves. Craw had 17 points on the night. Jared Dudley had one of his better games as a Clipper after chewing himself out over the internet, scoring 16 points on the night including a quick 9 in the first quarter. Dudley also shot 7-10 from the field, and here's hoping this gets his shooting back on track. DeAndre Jordan double-doubled with 15 and 10 while Blake Griffin had a very passive 16 and 9. Griffin seemed a bit disengaged most of the night, especially on offense, and was showing exceptional hesitation on his jumper. But I'm not too worried about him, just wish he'd be more aggressive on a night where he'd be able to get his own points easily.
As nice as it is to finally have an offensive explosion, the Wizards still shot 49.4% without their best big man and leading scorer. John Wall is fantastic and will get his, but Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin were also continuously outworking the Clippers. The defense on this team is still very much a work in progress, but overall, this was a much needed easy win over a team that didn't have the talent right now to keep up with a Clipper team ready to play. The Wizards do have a nice team though, and when they get healthy, I could see them even challenging for that 4th seed out East.
So now the road trip is over, and the Clips salvaged a winning record. We played our share of injured teams and teams with losing records. Up next? The San Antonio Spurs.
For the Wizards perspective, check out Bullets Forever.