Heading into tonight's game in New Orleans, the Los Angeles Clippers were undefeated in the 24 games this season in which they've made nine or more three point fields goals. They made 16 against the Pelicans, one off of their season high and nothing else really matters. They weren't very good defensively but the three ball was falling, and New Orleans just wasn't going to score more than this team when they're shooting like that.
Jamal Crawford led the onslaught with seven threes, including the 40th four-point-play of his career, extending his NBA record. Hedo Turkoglu, perhaps sensing that his minutes would soon be going to another former Orlando player without drastic action on his part, pitched in with four of his own -- as many as he'd made last season and this season combined heading into the game. Matt Barnes made a pair and Jared Dudley, Darren Collison and Reggie Bullock all made one each. As a team the Clippers were 16-28, their second best three point percentage of the season. Blake Griffin is the only player on the team who missed more threes than he made -- Griffin was 0-2.
The data tells us that the best shots in basketball are threes and dunks and free throws -- those things have the highest expected value, yield the most points per possession. Looking at the Clippers shot chart tonight would make Daryl Morey or any other advanced stat guru proud. DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 16 rebounds, with six of his seven field goals coming on dunks and the seventh on a tip in at the rim. Time and again Blake Griffin ran to the front of the rim in transition, camped there, and waited for the pass as the wafer thin Anthony Davis tried unsuccessfully to root him out. The ball movement was excellent as the team recorded 34 assists, once again their second best effort on the season, two off the season high.
Turkoglu's unexpected outburst, along with a dozen points from Collison, meant that the bench actually contributed 32 points tonight, a welcome surprise after a few games where the starters were pretty much on their own. Along with all five starters, the Clippers finished with seven players with 12 or more points, led by Crawford's 24.
They were outrebounded by 10, all of the gap coming in the 20 offensive boards New Orleans collected, and that's certainly not good, but making shots will mask a lot of problems. That was the bad news.
The good news, in addition to the hot shooting, was that Chris Paul seemed to find his mid range shot after three off games. He made 6-10 from the field and put up a very CP3 line for the game -- 19 points on just 10 shots, 13 assists, four rebounds, two steals and zero turnovers.
The newest Clipper, Glen Big Baby Davis was not available for this game as he has yet to take his physical, but fortunately they didn't need him tonight, especially given Turkoglu's production. He'll get his physical tomorrow and be available to play against the Rockets Wednesday night in STAPLES Center.