It's that time again... actually it's the first, in which I will break down the week that was in the world that is the Los Angeles Clippers. Every week there will be synopsis of each game, along with a breakdown of the Clippers and other notable moments in the NBA which affect the Clips.
Did the Clippership sink or sail? It's time to find out.
Heading into the week, the Clippers were 41-20, 1st in the Pacific Division, and 4th in the Western Conference. They were 3-0 in their previous week, going 7-3 in their Last 10 games.
Last week's Matchups were: Tuesday at PHX, Thursday at LAL, Saturday Vs. ATL
Monday: As the Clippers came off a 108-76 throttling of the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night, a game which became known as "Granger Gate," newly-acquired Danny Granger was unable to make his home debut due to a lineup gaffe. Lost in all the drama of this game were the performances of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Both stars had stellar games and played just over 30 minutes apiece. Most important however was Chris Paul's aggressiveness, as he was able to work towards shaking the rust off of his shot since coming back from a shoulder injury which sidelined him for 5 weeks and 18 games.
The Clippers practiced on Monday, where both Granger and Glen Davis -- arguably the two biggest acquisitions after the trade deadline -- were seen playing some one-on-one at practice. JJ Redick was also there taking some shots, which seems to be a good sign while still dealing with the disc issue in his back. There still seems to be no set date on Redick's return, making the addition of Granger that much more important going forward.
Next up for the Clips was a rematch with Phoenix. The Clips brought along a four game winning streak and also attempted to avenge one of their worst loses of the season.
As for the standings, the Clips got some love from the lowly Lakers after they shocked the Blazers. This win helped the Clips get a half game closer to that very important number 3 seed in the West.
Tuesday: At PHX
In December, the Clippers hosted a surprising young Phoenix Suns team led by Goran Dragic and former Clipper Eric Bledsoe. Despite losing Bledsoe to a meniscus injury, the Suns hit the Clips with an uppercut, leaving them flat on the mat for the entire game.
Heading into Tuesday's rematch, this time in Phoenix, the intriguing thing to see was if the Clips would be out for revenge or take a step back in the standings. The young, never-say-die Suns resemble this season's version of last year's darling, the Golden State Warriors, which in short represents a royal pain in the ass.
Early on it seemed like the Clips could block out the Suns, yet Phoenix played the second quarter as if it were a playoff game, taking an 11 point lead into the half. At this point, Clippers fans must have asked themselves, "Uh oh, here we go again?"
Not so fast! The Clippers responded in the third quarter as Matt "Boneyard" Barnes showed he clearly doesn't want to give up his starting small forward role. "Boneyard" did his best impression of LeBron James from the previous night, going 7-7 from the field including 4-4 from long distance and finished the quarter totaling 18 points. Barnes' inspiring play led the Clippers past the Suns 37-18 in the pivotal third quarter -- erasing the 11 point halftime deficit.
With the lead up to 15, things seemed to be under control until the Suns shined on an 11-0 run to cut the Clipper lead to 4 points. It was the Clippers' MVP Blake Griffin who responded with a gorgeous bank shot off the glass to fend off the Suns. Along with the victory, Blake "Sky Marshal" Griffin became the first player in franchise history with 20 straight, 20-point plus games, passing Dominque Wilkins' record of 19 games. In the end, the Clippers got some payback on the Suns winning 104-96. Both teams meet again Monday, March 10th at Staples Center.
By winning this game, The Clippers got even with the Suns, and most importantly they didn't lose ground in the Western Conference race despite Houston's win. It was also the second time this season the Clips won five in a row, equaling their longest streak of the season. (Something is telling me that this streak could have a chance to get into the double digits).
Clipper of the Game: Matt Barnes, 28pts, 6 Reb, 2 Ast 1 Blk and 1 Steal. Barnes is also averaging 17.3 PPG, 5.2 Reb, .512 3pt% since almost getting dealt at the trade deadline.
Runner Up: Blake, 22pts, 5 Reb, 6 Ast, the man is truly a "Griffin Force."
Wednesday: The big news on Wednesday was that Blake Griffin won Western Conference Player of the Month for February. Blake continues to prove the doubters wrong who question whether he is a true superstar. Sure Blake has won Western Conference Player of the Week twice this season, but winning this honor is certainly something to brag about given the competition. This without a doubt shows that Blake is living up to all the hype while not even scratching his potential's ceiling at age 24.
There was no practice for the Clippers on Wednesday, as they recovered from knocking off the pesky Suns. Word did hit the wire that Jamal Crawford was doubtful for Thursday's game, as he has been out since straining his calf in the Houston game. The Clippers will take the short walk down the hallway to face the Lakers, who they have split the season series at one thus far in the inner-city rivalry.
Thursday: Before playing the Lakers on Thursday night, Doc drilled the opening night blunder into the team's head. Rivers stressed the importance of how the team felt after the October game as opposed to the payback game that they won in January. Well, that seemed to rub the Clips the right way.
Early on, it seemed as if the Lakers might make of game it, getting a brief 7 point lead due to the Clippers' turnover woes. The defense also was not up to par, and consistency on that end is what Doc has been preaching.
Still these are 2014 Clippers, the "It's Time Clippers," not the "Bad Time Clippers," and keep in mind this is also the 2014 Lakers, a team built on legacy but thin in talent. Once the Clips hit the on switch the Lake Show went up in flames. Darren Collison helped lead the way for the Clippers with 24 points as they went on a 49-13 onslaught in the second quarter. From that point forward, much like the Lakers season, the game was a blowout laughingstock.
Blake continued his MVP candidacy with monster facial jams, notching his 21st 20 plus game, grabbing 11 boards in the process. There were a total of eight players in double figures for the Clips, leading them to the 142-94 victory, the largest margin in Clippers' history. It also marked the worst loss in the history of the Lakers franchise. Nice work, Doc, the speech was a smashing success.
Truth be told, win is a win for this team, a season-high six in a row as well. This keeps an eye on building towards the ultimate goal though and message was sent once again to the Lakers, who have beat them down over the years. It was also beneficial for Danny Granger and Glen "Big Baby" Davis to get some more playing time, chipping in 10 points apiece, given how practice time is at a minimal with Doc wanting to preserve their legs as opposed to crowding their minds.
Clipper of the Game: Matt Barnes. "Boneyard" led the team with a +43 player rating, shared the lead with DeAndre Jordan in rebounding with 12 and continued his torrid shooting from behind the arc going 3-7.
Runner Up: Blake, 20 pts, 11 Reb, 6 Asst. Blake messed around and wasn't far from a triple-double.
Honorable mention goes to Darren Collison, 24pts. DC filled the void in the backcourt for injured Jamal Crawford and JJ Redick. Collison played a masterful game, not to mention helped catapult the Clips away from the Lakers early in the second quarter.
Friday: As a reward for thumping the Lakers the previous night, the Clippers held no practice on Friday. All eyes were now on the Atlanta Hawks for Saturday's game. All-Star Center Al Horford is out for the season, and their other All-Star Paul Millsap has been out with injuries as well. The Hawks are hanging on to the eighth seed in the weak Eastern Conference, and were playing the Clips on a second night of a back to back. It was vital for the Clips not to overlook the Hawks due to games with division rivals Phoenix and Golden State on the horizon.
In the standings, The Clippers moved into sole possession of the number 4 seed in West, as the Blazers came back from a 30-point deficit against the Mavs, but gave up the lead late to blow the game. The Rockets stayed at the 3 spot with a dismantling of the Pacers at home.
Saturday: It seemed on paper that the Clips would easily handle the Hawks at home. Let's be honest the Hawks got blasted by the Warriors on Friday night and were losers in 13 of their last 14 games This however is why they play the games as they say, because the Hawks didn't get the memo or lie down dead.
Call it a trap game, overlooking a weaker squad before the Suns and Warriors the next week, but the Hawks decided to give it their all. Jamal Crawford also made his return to the Clips but only played limited minutes before leaving the game. With the Hawks leading throughout the first half, the Clippers found themselves down 1 at halftime after playing catch up and trailing most of the first 24 minutes.
With Blake and Chris both having solid games, it was the bench in the early fourth quarter that finally gave the Clips some breathing room. Danny "Danger" Granger showed signs of why the Clips coveted him so much, as he hit three consecutive shots to help give them an 88-78 lead.
Once the Clips got a nice lead along with momentum, the Hawks decided to go on a roll of their own making it a game in the end. Blake shouldered some big shots down the stretch, still the Hawks kept chipping away. Next thing you knew the Hawks were only down 2 with Griffin looking to ice the game at the free throw line. Griffin clunked the two free throws, leaving the door wide open for Jeff Teague who was bailed out with an awful call, putting him to the stripe with over a second left. Luckily for the Clips, Teague missed the front end of the two free throws, clinching the victory 109-108 for the Clippers. It wasn't pretty, but a win is win, the Clips now have a season-high seven-game winning streak and have matched the exact record from last season at this juncture at 44-20.
Clipper of Game: Blake Griffin had another stellar game performance with 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Runner Up: CP3 is slowly coming back to CP3 form, hitting a big hoop down the stretch, and finishing with 19 points and 10 assists.
Sunday: The Clippers were off on Sunday with no practice. Sunday was a day of scoreboard watching before the playing the Suns for a second time in a week, this time at Staples on Monday night. The Blazers went to Houston, in a game where the Clippers wish both teams could lose, but it was only the resilient Rockets who held on to defeat the Blazers in overtime as Damian Lillard fouled out and LaMarcus Aldridge was not able to take control of the fourth quarter.
Clipper of the Week: Matt Barnes has been scorching of late, there is no reason why he couldn't be the Clipper of the Week, but the honor goes to none other than Blake Griffin. Griffin was strong and steady all week, fresh off becoming named NBA Player of Month for February. He averaged 23 points a game with eight rebounds. Overall it was his aggressiveness at the end of the Hawks game that set him ahead of Barnes.
Sink or Sail? SAIL: The Clipper ship won three games in the week, could have easily sunk against the Hawks but stayed the course and got the W. This team finds various ways to win, and still doesn't have its full complement of players. Blake keeps his play at an MVP level, Barnes is playing out of his mind, and Chris Paul is feeding Blake and getting his game back to the level we are all used to seeing him at. Having won 7 games in a row, now while still the 4 seed in the West, the Clippers look to run their winning streak to double digits as they have a favorable schedule moving forward.
Next week is no walk in the park by any means with Phoenix on Monday and Golden State on Wednesday, however the Clippers are blessed with the fact that both teams will be playing the second of a back to back when they take the floor in Los Angeles.