Despite the fact that the Clippers had not played since last Tuesday, Los Angeles looked listless in Portland against the Trail Blazers and Portland made them pay for it. It was a pretty ugly affair for the Clippers through three quarters but they did show some fight in the fourth quarter to give the backups a chance to steal this game late.
In a game that saw the Clippers starters, minus J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan to some degree, look winded and out of sorts, Portland made the Clippers pay early with a barrage of threes that basically demoralized the Clippers all game long. There were a few positives to take away from this game, despite the lack of any structure or results at times. There were also quite a few negatives to take away from this game but perhaps some of those could be chalked up as preseason rust.
Doc Rivers put Reggie Bullock into the starting lineup in an effort to see what small forward on the Clippers roster could show enough of a pulse to take the official starting job. While he did go 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, and 2-of-4 overall, Bullock showed how rusty he is and what his deficiencies as a player were. The offense, to some degree, handicapped the entire team but Bullock's inability to create separation from defenders when moving through the sets was noticeable. Also noticeable was his lack of defense. The potential is there for him to be a good defender but tonight he showed his lapses.
As mentioned a little above, J.J. Redick actually looked good tonight. Ralph and Mike talked about during the game that Redick didn't like the new LED lighting at the Staples Center and it was pretty apparent that he liked shooting at the Moda Center more. He looked smooth and in control as he hit the first basket of the game, a curling jumper from the elbow. From there, he hit a couple threes and had another rattle in-and-out. Redick looked in mid-season form tonight, which is always a plus. Just gotta hope and pray he can play the majority of the games this year unlike last year when he missed time due to fluke injuries.
DeAndre Jordan was DeAndre Jordan and was as consistent as Redick was tonight. He did struggle a little bit with foul trouble, mainly because LaMarcus Aldridge was baiting both he and Blake Griffin into fouls all night with his shoulder fakes and up-and-under moves. However, despite the foul trouble, he was a presence on the court and compiled 11 points and 8 rebounds despite his 3-of-9 line from the charity stripe. All-in-all, it was a solid game for DeAndre Jordan and one that he can build off of.
The two stars for the Clippers, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, had subpar nights by their standards. Griffin and Paul were a combined 10-of-31 from the field and had just 24 points altogether. But beyond the numbers, there were bad signs from this game from both of them.
For Blake Griffin, his jumper was not falling and it looked like he reverted back to his old habit of releasing on the way down. The good sign was that he didn't hesitate when taking the jumper, though. He went into his motion but held the ball too long and released on the way down. He then had trouble with offense in the post against Chris Kaman and Robin Lopez at times. On defense, he got consistently overmatched by LaMarcus Aldridge and eventually had to switch onto Robin Lopez because of foul trouble.
For Chris Paul, he looked extremely tentative running the offense and not aggressive whatsoever in looking for his own shots or points. Paul picked up the pace a little later in the third quarter, trying to will the team into the game but by then he had pretty much gave what he had. He was 4-of-6 in the quarter, including hitting his only three of the game, but he needed to be much more aggressive early on when the offense was stagnant and looking for someone to take over; especially with Blake Griffin looking weary and out of sorts.
The bright spots for the Clippers tonight came from the bench. Jamal Crawford was sensational, nailing three after three after three. He finished 6-of-8 from downtown and compiled 23 points, which was the team-high for the night. The other two bright spots off of the bench were Spencer Hawes and Jordan Farmar. Hawes poured in 15 points while Farmar put in 13 but there was definitely great things to take away from the new additions.
As far as Spencer Hawes is concerned, you can see the problems he'll create for other teams when he's on the floor. He drained three of his six three-point attempts tonight and generally looked good for the most part. Hawes even flashed in the post a few times with moves but the ball wouldn't go down for him. However, as mentioned, you can see the problems he creates because of his inside-out, or rather outside-in, ability. Plus his passing is fantastic but that goes without saying.
For a stretch in the fourth quarter, it seemed like Jordan Farmar turned into Steph Curry and it was absolutely ridiculous. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself but I ultimately feel like Farmar fits better with the second unit this year than Darren Collison would have primarily because Farmar seems like he's looking to help the team more by setting others up rather than himself. On the flip side, when he actually looked for his own shot you could see how good he can be as a go-to-scorer for the team when the opposition thinks he's just a distributor. It seems weird to say, but the potential is there with Farmar as an impact player this year.
To be perfectly clear, there were good things to take away from this game. The bench unit looked good together even though the starters looked absolutely dead tired. It's weird to see that out of a team that hasn't played since Tuesday but Doc Rivers has ran them into the ground during practices in order to get their conditioning better before the season begins. And that's okay. These games are meaningless in the standings but helpful in determining what might happen going forward.
For Portland, despite his 4-of-13 night from the floor, LaMarcus Aldridge looked good and finished with 16 points. Wesley Matthews couldn't miss from deep (6-of-7) and finished with 22 points. C.J. McCollum got the start for Damian Lillard tonight and put up 19 points while going 5-of-8 from three. Former Clippers All-Star Chris Kaman looked good, compiling 12 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks in his 20 minutes of action. It was nice to see him be a difference maker again, even if it was against his former team.
The Clippers will have a quick turnaround and head to Utah to play the Jazz tomorrow night in a preseason back-to-back. It'll be interesting to see who Doc Rivers turns to tomorrow night to be the starting small forward. My money is on Chris Douglas-Roberts since he did not play a single minute tonight. It almost seemed like Doc was saving him for tomorrow's game and to see what he can do with the starters. So, in all seriousness, tomorrow might be CDR's time to shine and take that starting spot.
Box Score PDF: Click Here