This one might have actually been too easy. With fresh legs after a couple of days off and back at sea level, the Los Angeles Clippers did whatever they wanted to do against the Detroit Pistons Sunday night in a 129-97 victory. The Clippers set season highs in several offensive categories, and also established a franchise record for margin of victory against the Pistons. Anyone who's been a Clipper fan for the past decade or so can remember all too well a long line of humiliating defeats at the hands of the Pistons -- it felt good to be on the other end of one of those.
The Clippers shot their highest percentage from the field for the season at 62.5%. They also made 14-28 from three point range. They made 50 field goals and assisted on 37 of them, both season highs as well.
And all of that was great of course, but I'm having trouble remembering anything from this game other than DeAndre Jordan's alley oop dunk.
This dunk made me jump out of my seat and scream. It was absolutely amazing. And then as they replayed it, it got even more amazing, but it was also terrifying. Because poor Brandon Knight was so thoroughly demolished that I feared for his safety. If not the actual safety of his body, at least his psychological safety. I'm not sure how anyone comes back from that poster.
Poor Knight. He was just trying to do his job. He saw that Greg Monroe was beaten and so he rotated to the middle like he was supposed to. Why he thought he could do anything about what was about to happen I'm not sure; a lot of players understandably develop posteritis in that situation. Big guys, guys that maybe even have some business challenging in that situation, turn and run away to avoid getting put on that poster. But Knight, to his credit, did not. He flung his 6'3 frame up to contest Jordan -- and it very nearly cost him his life.
I remember when Jordan was a rookie he tried to dunk everything. I mean almost literally everything -- he had no shot other than a dunk, and he'd jump up 10 feet from the basket and try to dunk and get nowhere near the rim. This had that feel. It felt like he couldn't possibly dunk that pass, and certainly not with a defender in the way, even if it was only a point guard. But in the end he made it look relatively simple.
Just like everything else in this game. Everything came easy for the Clippers Sunday night. Jordan's dunk, Matt Barnes' five three pointers in five tries, Chris Paul's 14 assists, Blake Griffin's 9-12 shooting. It all came easy. Just as it has against the lesser teams for a month now.
It probably won't come nearly so easy Wednesday night against Memphis, but at least the Clippers will once again be rested. They have two full days off before the Memphis game and those will be important days for getting healthy. The second string backcourt of Eric Bledsoe (calf) and Jamal Crawford (ankle) sat out against the Pistons and starting small forward Caron Butler left in the third quarter with an elbow contusion. Hopefully these next couple of days will be enough time for all three of them to recover, because the Clippers will want to be at full strength against the Grizzlies.
Tonight's win moves the Clippers back ahead of Memphis into third place in the Western Conference, but Wednesday night is the real showdown. Whoever wins that game will take over third and will also send a message. If the Clippers can play anywhere close to the level they did tonight, that message will be "Watch out for Denver guys -- you can forget about third so best be sure to protect fourth."