This was a really, really ugly game. The Blazers shot just 36.7% from the field, while the Clippers made only 41.2% of their own shots. And it wasn’t because the defense was that stellar either: players were just missing shots. The Clippers started out the game looking a little shaky on the offensive end. Danilo Gallinari made his return after missing over a month, and looked correspondingly out of sync with the rest of the starting lineup. The Blazers weren’t playing much better, but Damian Lillard singlehandedly gave them a lead with several deep three pointers. He had 14 points in the 1st quarter, and the Clippers really didn’t seem like they knew that he could should long threes off the dribble, which is kind of his thing. Lou Williams and the bench helped stabilize things in the late early 2nd quarter, and the Clippers continued to hang around going into halftime.
The third quarter is where the game was lost, however. The Clippers quickly fell down double digits, appearing sloppy on both ends of the court. Lou Williams was quickly inserted into the game, along with Sindarius Thornwell, but for one of the first times all season, the magic was not there for Sweet Lou tonight. He went 0-12 in the 3rd quarter, and while many of those shots were attempts he has been draining all season, several of them were clearly forced, and led to Blazers’ fastbreak points. About the only bright spot in the 3rd for the Clippers was Tyrone Wallace, who repeatedly got to the basket and finished. The Clippers very gradually chipped away at the lead in the 4th quarter, this time mostly inspired by the low post play of Montrezl Harrell. Milos drained a three, Lou finally made a layup, and all of a sudden, the Blazers’ lead was down to 6 with just a few minutes to go. Alas, the comeback was not to be: The Blazers got several offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive, the Clippers compounded that problem with a couple bad turnovers, and the game was suddenly over.
· Lou Has a Night to Forget: I hope this wasn’t one of Lou’s last games as a Clipper, because it was certainly his worst game as a Clipper, and it would be a bad game to remember him by. Lou had 15 points on 4-10 shooting at halftime, a classic Sweet Lou line, but then went 1-16 in the 2nd half, scoring only five points. He missed a lot of shots he normally makes, though he did also force up some wild looks around the basket in hopes of drawing contact. If he even has a bad shooting game instead of a horrid one, the Clippers might have pulled this out. Sadly, he never found the range, and was fuming most of the 4th quarter. Lou still got to 20 points to keep his streak of 20+ point games off the bench going, but it was the ugliest 20 point game of his career, probably.
· Clippers Killed on Defensive Glass: While DeAndre Jordan had 19 rebounds, Jusuf Nurkic had 20, and 7 of those were offensive. Several of those offensive rebounds were backbreakers in the latter half of the 4th quarter, including a board and layup with a minute or so left that was just an absolute dagger. The Blazers had a staggering 18 offensive rebounds in total, helping to make up for their awful night shooting the basketball. Some of the rebounds just took unlucky bounces, but the Clippers needed to do a better job boxing out, and failed to do so.
· Gallinari Quiet in Return: Gallo actually had one of his better games of the season, scoring 15 points on 6-12 shooting, but it didn’t seem like he had much an impact on the game. He continued his early season struggles behind the three point arc (1-4 tonight), and only got to the free throw line twice. He didn’t force too much, which was nice, but probably could have taken some of the shots that Lou was getting in the 3rd and 4th quarters. As he gets more comfortable with everyone else, he should become more involved in the offense, though how he will play with Tobias Harris (very similar style offensively) remains a question mark. His defense, as usual, was spotty, with a few nice stops mixed in with some bad sequences of Blazers’ players just blowing right by him.
· Unhappy DJ: Though it didn’t seem to effect his play much, DeAndre Jordan didn’t look like a very happy man tonight. Maybe it was nothing, but the joy with which DJ usually plays was absent in this one. He was engaged on the bench, directing teammates on defense and talking to Doc Rivers, so it wasn’t all bad. However, he had a horrible turnover towards the end of the game where he tried to force a pass to Wes Johnson instead of finding the nearby Lou, and Lou shot him several disgusted glances the next 10-15 seconds. It was probably just frustration, but it still wasn’t good to see.
· Lots of Shirt Giveaways: Maybe it was to make up for the Blake Griffin trade, but the Clippers gave away more free T-Shirts tonight than I’ve ever seen before. They had two separate timeouts dedicated to the shirt cannons and the crew tossing out shirts, and then sent in more from the ceiling later on.
· Schedule Ahead: After playing every other day for the past 10 days, the Clippers will have a long break, not playing again until Saturday. Not only will this give the Clippers’ weary players a chance to rest, but it will also allow for their new players to pass their physicals and get in a practice or two with the team. Avery Bradley is dealing with a hamstring strain and might be out Saturday, but that game against the Bulls at home should be the Clippers’ debut of Tobias Harris. His scoring and shot-creation would have been very welcome tonight, and I’m excited to see him in action.