The game started off fairly back and forth until the Clippers got a little separation to close with an Austin Rivers three and a nice Marreese Speights putback to close the first quarter up 26-21. The Clips had a bit of a scare, as Chris Paul made a layup and looked to be favoring his elbow slightly. Paul called himself out but when he sat on the bench, he didn’t look to be in too much discomfort.
Paul checking himself out at around the 7 minute mark of the first quarter caused Doc Rivers to properly stagger his superstars and bring Paul back to close the first and play through the second. Paul initially played off the ball, giving the reigns in the 2nd to Austin. Luckily, Rivers was super aggressive and got himself in a groove that continued for the rest of the game, showing that style of play that has made him such an asset this season. J.J. Redick also finally got loose in the second quarter, going on a personal 8-0 run that put the Clippers up 45-34, and the Clips hovered around a double digit lead the rest of the half, finishing it up 54-45.
The cohesiveness of the offense continued into the 3rd quarter. The Clips blew the game open around the middle of the 3rd quarter. Paul had 9 points, including a crucial momentum breaking three pointer that stretched the lead back to 77-62 after Troy Daniels looked to be heating up a bit on the other side of the court. Paul seemed a bit passive in the 2nd quarter for stretches so to see him put his stamp on the game in the third was refreshing. The quarter ended with this:
The 4th quarter came and went, and the Clippers didn’t look particularly crisp and got some bail out shots from Raymond Felton and Speights, but the bench did enough to keep the starters out of the game, except for DeAndre Jordan who came back around the 10 minute mark of the 4th in what’s becoming a trend.
The Clips won the pivotal rebounding battle in convincing fashion, 47-34. They shot over 50% from the field and hit 11 triples. All in all this was a great showing and wasn’t just a spurt in the 2nd half to steal a game. This is definitely a win to build on, the first in a while.
-Blake Griffin couldn’t get his shot going tonight, but he had a great night facilitating. He finished with a game high 8 assists to just 2 turnovers, after he had a poor night holding onto the ball last night against the Wolves. He also had 14 points and 12 boards to come close to another triple double.
-The bench was very good tonight, with Rivers scoring 20 points on 7-10 from the field, playing downhill and getting to the rim. I really enjoyed Jamal Crawford’s performance tonight, as he did well to get his shots in the rhythm of the offense without icing everyone around him too much. His first shot of the night was in rhythm on a wide open right angle triple. Felton continues to impress and he’s made a knack of bailing out the Clippers himself when things get stale. Speights had a couple of triples and took some charges, per usual.
-Doc is bringing DeAndre into the 2nd/4th quarter around the 10 minute mark with some consistency, and it’s brought some good results. The offense stalled a bit in the 4th, and I think I still prefer Wes Johnson in the game instead of Speights because Wes manages to do a lot of little defensive things despite being hopeless offensively. However the bench + DJ held it together, and this is a nice thing to see. Hopefully Doc can bring DJ in a little earlier in those 2nd/4ths because the all bench unit has a tendency to sputter.
-Mike Smith made a point to tally good offensive possessions by the Clippers from around the mid second onwards, and the Clippers played so well offensively once he did that he seemed to just lose count. Really great to see after these past few games.
-As good as the Grizzlies have been over the past few years, they’re clearly in more disarray than the Clippers, as they don’t seem to know who to surround Mike Conley and Marc Gasol with in the starting lineup. Chandler Parsons rested today but he’s looked awful all season. Coach David Fizdale, a disciple of the pace and space Miami Heat, seemed to be embracing that philosophy in Memphis, but played Brandan Wright over JaMychal Green tonight. (Though Green played more minutes) Zach Randolph and Gasol kept the Griz within striking distance tonight, but Fizdale doesn’t seem to like playing them together. I do think those two should get more clock together, similar to how the Griffin/Jordan tandem gets minutes together. The league might be moving away from having two traditional bigs on the floor but with the sort of experience those duos have, it’s worth playing them together just for the chemistry. I feel like this team has pieces, and I definitely think Troy Daniels is the type of shooter this team craves, but they just need to put it together some and hope to stay healthy. Either way I think Fizdale is a quality coach for the future and I do think he’ll figure it out if he’s given good personnel.
-Mike Conley finished his season series against the Clippers with 2 scorching hot games with 14-20 3 point shooting and 2 poor shooting games with 1-9 3 point shooting, with tonight being one of the duds. I mean 15-29 shooting altogether from the perimeter is still pretty ridiculous, but I’ll take 3 Clipper wins.
Great win with what must be tired legs after this hectic schedule. The Clips won’t have much time off though, as they have an early game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday afternoon.