There are certain nights in the NBA when teams decide to hell with defense, we're just going to try and outscore these guys. This was one of those nights. With neither the Clippers nor the Rockets seemingly interested in playing anything resembling defense, it turned into a shoot out; luckily the Clippers had their J.J. Redick Bazooka locked and loaded.
J.J. Redick was simply amazing tonight. He set a career high in points, 40, tied the Clippers franchise record for three pointers in a game, 9, and is now shooting 48.9/50/89.5 for the season. J.J. talked with Zach Lowe this offseason about how hard he took losing to the Rockets in last year's playoffs, and spoke with TNT before the game saying Houston has been punking them, and not in the funny Ashton Kutcher way. Seemingly taking it personally, Redick came out with a purpose tonight and made big shot after big shot to secure the Clippers their victory. Here's a live look at how hot Redick was during the game (photo courtesy of wavy).
The rest of the Clipper team followed after Redick's scorching start and finished with 22 made threes, setting the LAC franchise record for most in a game, and falling one shy of the NBA record. Overtime was a terrific microcosm of this game, which in 5 minutes the Clippers simply outscored the Rockets with a barrage of threes. While the shooting was incredible to watch, it also covered up a pretty terrible game played by the Clippers.
I can remember maybe only a handful of possessions in which the Clippers rotated well on defense or stayed in front of their man with some reliability. Houston had so many wide open three pointers, especially in transition, that the Clippers should just be thankful the Rockets were only 34% from deep. DeAndre Jordan looked far from 100% expectedly and without him as a steadying anchor for the Clipper defense, they were terribly lost at trying to contain any type of dribble penetration or off ball cutting, leaving the team scrambling in purgatory on almost every play, resulting in plenty of lobs to Dwight Howard and offensive rebounds. The Clippers changed their defense, staying aggressive on Harden and dropping back on everyone else, which could be important for the playoffs, but need to work out a lot of kinks.There's been some debate as to whether the Clippers have been getting better on defense, or whether they've just been playing bad teams. Last game against the Kings and tonight are not great examples of anyone trying to point to them improving. The other side may argue DJ is far more important than people have given him credit for thus far, and I think we're still left with an unanswered question.
As Clipper fans, it's easy to look at this game and think another blown second half lead, especially to the Rockets, that almost resulted in a loss. I'm going to put on my best C.J. Cregg hat and try to spin it as a career night for Redick and a game when the Clippers bent, but didn't break. Try and remember it as that, and you'll sleep much better tonight.
A FEW STRAY POINTS:
- Dwight Howard was a monster tonight. He put up 36 point and 26 rebounds while going 14-18 from the free throw line. While most of that came against a pneumonia-lite Jordan, it's still incredible.
- Doc made some questionable decisions lineup. I get that he wanted to try and go all offense lineups to close the game, but that can backfire when you don't get a timeout to sub and you're left with Paul Pierce guarding James Harden in crucial possessions down the stretch (though he did block him once to Harden's embarrassment).
- Pablo Prigioni played like he wasn't sure if he was still a member of the Rockets with the way he was turning it over. Probably his worst performance.
- Marcus Thornton made some clutch shots to put the game into overtime. Doc undoubtedly asked his players to foul if they could, but Thornton got his shots off so fast it was hard to execute.
- Maybe Doc could've fouled Howard via the Redick-piggy-back when they were shooting free throws, but the downside to that is it takes no time off the clock, something they want, and Howard was making his freebies tonight.