The Clippers were behind most of the game, and never seemed like they were in position to take the win. They didn’t play badly, per se, but weren’t sharp enough on defense to get consistent stops, and were let down by their outside shooting. There weren’t many turning points in the game—it was basically the same story from start to finish. The Clippers got open shots, just couldn’t hit them. They mostly moved the ball well, and the effort level was present on both ends. The Grizzlies simply worked their way open time and again, and unlike the Clippers, were able to convert on their opportunities. And that was basically the game.
· Bench Badly Outplayed: The Clippers’ bench was outscored 55-22 by their Grizzlies’ counterparts, and the on-court play was probably even worse than that. Lou Williams had several bad turnovers and shot only 4-12 from the field, and as he goes so does the rest of the Clippers’ bench. Sindarius Thornwell and Wes Johnson were energetic and played solid defense, as always, but couldn’t get anything done on offense (Thornwell missed three free throws). That was in vast contrast to the Grizzlies’ bench, which was competent on both sides of the ball. The Clippers were particularly burned by Tyreke Evans, despite the myriad of different defenders they threw at him. Evans got to the basket, made his way to the free throw line, and even drained a couple threes. But he had help: Chandler Parsons, Mario Chalmers, and Brandan Wright all scored in double figures as well.
· Blake Griffin is Excellent: Blake Griffin, like he has virtually all season, carried the Clippers the entire game. He took less three-pointers than he has been (only three), but that’s because the Grizzlies were actively guarding him behind the line. As predicted, that opened up the lane for Griffin to drive to the basket, and drive he did. Blake had several thunderous dunks, and made his way to the line 11 times. Scoring 30 points on 17 shots is incredibly efficient volume scoring, and Blake is demonstrating over and over that he can be the Clippers’ featured player on an every game basis. His defense was exposed a few times, but the effort is there, and for as much energy as he’s expending on offense, that’s all the Clippers can really ask for.
· Pat Beverley Demonstrates His Offensive Game: Beverley, like everyone else on the Clippers, was cold from deep, shooting only 1-8 from three. He made up for that poor shooting by attacking the basket, and had several beautiful finishes around the rim. He also made all his free throws, which was significant considering the Clippers missed seven of them. Bev played his usual brand of effective, aggressive defense, and was easily the Clippers’ second-best player.
· Gallinari Struggles Again: Gallinari isn’t really playing badly. He just isn’t making shots. But considering that’s one of the main reasons the Clippers paid him, it’s still a huge disappointment that he is still floundering from three. He was 0-4 from long range, 4-10 overall, and absolutely must shoot better if the Clippers are going to reach another level on offense. He did contribute six assists, which led the team, and is a nice sign for his ability to anchor the second unit as the lone starter. That’s comforting for the Clippers, but it would be even nicer if his jumpers started falling.
· Doc Continues to Experiment: Doc played 10 guys against tonight, with Thornwell firmly established as the 9th man in the rotation. Rather than playing Dekker tonight, however, Doc used Montrezl Harrell instead of Willie Reed as the backup center in the second half. Each player brings something different to the Clippers, and it’s great that Doc is willing to use each depending on matchups and game flow.
· Up Next: The Clippers face the Heat at home tomorrow afternoon before going on a three game road trip, with stops in San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and New Orleans. That’s a tough four game stretch, and it would be excellent if the Clippers could come out of it with two wins.