Coming into the game the Clippers knew it would take their best effort to beat the streaking Cavs, winners of their last 11, and overcome the terrible announcing of Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley, but they started with what Doc Rivers described as "the worst half of basketball we've played all season." A terribly played first half put the Clippers into a deep hole from which they were unable to climb out of, in part due to the referees constantly heaping shovels of dirt into that very hole. By the 4:30 minute mark Doc waived the white flag and brought in his third stringers, with his eyes on the matchup against Toronto tomorrow night.
In the first half, the Cavaliers looked like the unstoppable offensive machine we typically expect to see out of the Clippers. Kevin love scored 8 quick points on three shots to start the game, finishing with 10 in the quarter and 24 in the game, and LeBron carved the Clippers defense like a Thanksgiving turkey. Whether he was blowing by defenders or setting up Mozgov or J.R. Smith for three pointers, James bent the Clippers defense to his will while handing out six assists in the first frame. Doc was so frustrated he picked up an early technical, something that would become a theme for the Clippers, and part of his annoyance had to come from the Clippers complete lack of effort on defense. You want an easy gauge as to whether the Clippers are trying hard on defense? Watch to see whether they are rotating and closing out on shooters. Against San Antonio every shot was contested and there was multiple efforts from the Clippers in chasing players off the three point line. In the first half? None. The Cavs had a flurry of open looks from deep with no Clipper defenders even making attempts to contest, leading to Cleveland shooting 6 out of 12 from behind the arc. The best defensive effort of the Clippers may have been Chris Paul's flagrant 1 strangle-block on Mozgov, to his credit as a six foot point guard he needs to use Mozgov's neck as a pull up bar to have any chance at a block right?
On offense, the Clippers couldn't manage to establish any type of flow throughout the first half. Jamal helped to keep the Clippers in it by making some timely shots, totaling all 13 of his points in the first two quarters. Blake was the only Clipper player that seemed energized on offense, scoring a team high 16 points on the game by sinking a couple jumpers and going full bully mode in the post. Even though his jump hook was falling regularly, Blake made huge efforts to tip in his misses and help keep the game somewhat close. Regardless, the Clippers shot only 42% in the first half, including a miserable 1-9 from deep, while the Cavs torched them shooting a cool 60%. Going into the break, the Clippers were down 65-42 and even then the game didn't seem that close.
Starting the third quarter, the Clippers seemed to come out with a little more purpose and aggression. They were at least trying on defense and scoring a little bit on offensive. However, that's when the refs decided they had seen enough, and wanted to take the rest of the night off; either that or the league had issued them new whistles with instructions to break them in that game. The refs seemingly called the Clippers for a foul on every defensive possession, which helped to lead to the Cavaliers incredible free throw disparity 44 to the Clippers 20 for the game. To make the game even more ridiculous, the refs went back to back to back with technicals against the Clippers in about a 90 second time period, with all them being extremely questionable. Barnes got a quick T, and a second one later for seemingly doing nothing, but that's Matt Barnes and referees hate Matt Barnes so let's label that stupid but understandable. Chris Paul was taking the ball out of bounds and must've uttered something to ref Lauren Holtkamp, as she quickly delivered a T. Reggie and Chuck talked about sometimes a player says the "magic word" to the ref and deserves a technical, trying to defend the officials. The next play DJ gets an offensive rebound, scores, and yells "god damnit" seemingly at no one, feeling that he was fouled. Holtkamp quickly served DJ a hot, piping technical. Maybe I'm just a youthful, rude millennial, but "god damnit" doesn't seem like the magic word Reggie and Chuck were describing, especially when DJ has been caught saying much worse by the microphones.
With Barnes ejected and the Clippers having to play 5 on 8 against the Cavs and the referees, Doc waived the white flag and brought in his bench. The rest of the game from about 4:30 on in the third quarter was garbage time. If you're looking for a silver lining to this game, get ready to do some dumpster diving because the Clippers thrived in those minutes. It's official, with Mike Miller air balling multiple three pointers, that the Clippers third string bench warmers are better than the Cavaliers' third string bench warmers. The Clips finished the game on a 22-3 run, making the final score mask the beat down this game was.
To conclude, I don't want the Cavs fans to think I'm taking anything away from them by saying the refs helped them win this game, even though they did. The Cavaliers played terrific this game, as they have the past 12, and essentially ended the game far before the officials decided to. As for the Clippers, losses like this happen sometimes. They're ugly, but can somewhat be chalked up to just an off night against the hottest team in the association. The Clippers are still 33-17 on the season, and have an immediate opportunity tomorrow night against the Raptors to bounce back and make up for tonight's performance.