How did the team respond to getting beaten by the Charlotte Hornets the other night in China? Well, they felt that it was so fun doing it once that they wanted to endure it all over again, but wanted a bigger beatdown than they received the first time. You have to respect the team’s desire to not put together 48 consistent minutes in the preseason. Then again, that’s what the regular season is for. As of now, the Los Angeles Clippers are 1-3 to start the games-that-don’t-count portion of the year.
If you were looking for bright spots, then there were two of them. Blake Griffin had 14 points and 14 rebounds while going 7-of-15 from the field. He also had 3 assists, but did turn the ball over 5 times. The other bright spot was Chris Paul, who finished with 17 points and 6 assists on 6-of-10 shooting. He returned from an index finger injury and looked like he did not miss a beat on either end. Unfortunately, he, like Griffin, had 5 turnovers in this game. 8 of the duo’s 10 total turnovers came in a disastrous third quarter for the team, though, so don’t read too much into their individual turnover numbers.
The team clawed their way back into this game late in the second quarter and trailed by just 5 points heading into the locker room. From there, things got inexplicably worse as Doc Rivers opted to start Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in the second half with the other four starters. It did not go swimmingly. The unit played the first 7:47 together and went -13 thanks to a lack of spacing and cohesion. Don’t read too much into how that group of five did. Nor should you read too much into how the team played in the second half. That bad start doomed them and they never were fully able to recover enough to make it a game again as the team scored just 20 points in the second half. They were outscored 57-20 in the final 24 minutes.
The Hornets looked good yet again. They were paced by Jeremy Lin, Nicolas Batum, and Al Jefferson. The trio combined for 44 points on 32 shots and seemed completely in sync all night. With the loss of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, it does seem like Charlotte is going to more of a spacing style of play that’ll get them more looks from three. They, at least for now, appear like they possess the players to make this work, but we will see how this plays out as the season goes along.
After this disastrous trip to China – at least on the court – the Clippers will now travel back home to play the Golden State Warriors on the 20th at the STAPLES Center. For the sake of everyone involved, let’s hope there are no extracurricular activities that take place. And, for the Clippers, let’s hope the bench shows something more and let’s hope Doc Rivers actually picks a starter at small forward because this constant shuffling makes the team miss Matt Barnes even more.
Caden Kinard will be along shortly with the full recap.