Man, this game.
This game was absolutely loaded. It was mostly an offensive display from both teams aside from a nice defensive effort from Portland during a chunk of the second quarter, but it was quite a show to watch.
The Clippers never really felt steady unless Chris Paul had a heavy hand on the offense. Blake Griffin had a loaded line tonight, 26 points, 12 boards, and 6 assists (along with 4 turnovers), but Griffin’s most reliable shot felt like his money midrange game that he was stroking particularly early in the game. Anything towards the basket or even in the post was a bit of an adventure for Griffin with a few exceptions. Griffin had a particularly bad fade away down the stretch that was super perplexing. But, the effort was all there tonight from Griffin, and the time off did him some good. He was given the minutes with the time off too, playing an even 40.
This game was dictated by Paul and had a feeling of uneasiness whenever he was off the court. Though he had a couple of turnovers, the sloppiness we’ve seen from Paul during this last stretch of games has been cleaned up a lot against the Pelicans and the Blazers, and it is hopefully a sign of things to come. Paul had 21 points, 14 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 triples. Some role players chipped in, particularly Marreese Speights and Raymond Felton hit some big threes during the 4th quarter. Felton was a sight for sore eyes, his steady hand and knack for timely jumpers is something this team badly missed. Felton was even designated on Damian Lillard defensively for a bit while Luc Mbah a Moute rested his shoulder on the bench for most of the 4th. Jamal Crawford had a +4 off the bench with 14 points, but don’t get me started on him. I’ll talk more about Jamal in my tidbits.
The end of this game, well, was frantic. It was indeed a game of runs, with the Clippers going up 96-91 on a Mo triple, quickly going down 101-96 on a Allen Crabbe leakout, before getting the lead back for good on a controversial call that rewarded J.J. Redick 4 free throws and put the Clips up 109-107. Griffin hit a dazzling tip in and Paul hit a clutch triple, and the Clippers played keep away dangerously the rest of the game. Amidst a slew of NBA reviews, they managed to fend the Blazers off. I believe Mike Smith mentioned that this would be the first season series sweep of the Blazers since 2005? So, that’s cool.
The Blazers are a really well coached group. They seem like such an easy puzzle to solve, but they have some great hand off plays and dizzying off the ball action that you can see why they can be a handful to guard. I love me some C.J. McCollum, and dude just lit up the Clippers tonight on a variety of great shots, a lot before the Clipper defense even knew what hit them. He’s always been my preferred of the two Portland guards, I just like watching him more and he’s a fun player to watch even when the ball isn’t in his hands. McCollum and Evan Turner played really well together tonight, something I thought they’d be able to do more this season. Lillard hit some shots late, but his woes against the Clippers continued, whether it’s Chris Paul guarding him in previous games, or M&M locking him up most of tonight.
-I could write a whole article about how frustrating Crawford was today. Even his early flurries terrify me because I have seen more often than not that the law of averages come into play within the same game for Crawford. After his end to the first quarter, the rest of the game was loaded with bad shots and blown defensive assignments, highlighted by a particularly bad sequence to end the third when Jamal lost the ball going up on a jumper, got smoked by McCollum, and eventually lead to the Clippers fouling I believe Ed Davis. The second unit runs hot/cold just based on Jamal dominating the ball, and with Felton back, I really hope that we can see more 2 man with Felton/Speights(or Blake) rather than a handoff to Jamal and watch the world melt before me.
-The second quarter was awful for the Clippers, partly because of Crawford and really because just nothing was happening. Paul came in and shot a couple of midrange shots, but aside from that, it was a lot of ineffectively watching Jamal or even watching Griffin. Griffin had some early jumpers in the quarter, but the well ran dry quick and the Blazers offense kept going from the first. Felt like the offense barely moved within 20 feet for the longest time in the second quarter. As mentioned, though, the Blazers were very active in the second quarter defensively.
-Was that Griffin tip in any sort of offensive interference, or was it just ruled that since him touching the rim would have done nothing to interfere with whether or not the ball went into the hoop that it wasn’t a violation?
-Mason Plumlee with another absurd fantasy basketball line against the Clippers: 18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks, 1 turnover, 8/15 from the field. He was even shooting those foul line jumpers with confidence. Is DeAndre Jordan the only center that’s not trying to shoot midrange jumpers? Feels like it.
-Jordan wasn’t particularly poor tonight, but I felt like he could have imposed his will a bit more on a smallish Portland frontline. The Blazers knocked around the Clipper bigs some and the refs swallowing the whistles during physical play seemed to hurt the Clippers more than the Blazers. That ejection against DJ, though, was hot garbage. There were some controversial calls, but yeesh. I can’t believe DJ got ejected there, if this somehow would have gone into overtime that would have haunted the Clippers.
-I would have been madder about that ejection then, but the Clips did get 4 free throws from that Redick triple try so I calmed down a bit. It was a foul, but I get why Terry Stotts got so upset about it. If there was no call, I would have understood. It was also nice that the refs called that off the ball foul committed on Redick after missing it the previous play.
-Kudos to DJ, by the by, for another solid night at the line.
-Lillard had his usual mediocre shooting line against the Clips tonight, but man that scoop shot he hit in the final minute was gorgeous.
-I am making a bad habit of doing 3 goggles during Clipper bingos. Send help.
Up next, to Clippers start a brief road trip in Orlando.