The game summary tonight will be short and sweet, as the Clippers led throughout, and the outcome was never really in doubt by the mid-point of the 2nd quarter.
The Clippers started the game out well, getting an early lead on the Wizards on the basis of some Avery Bradley jumpshots. The Wizards kept going under screens on Bradley, a reasonable option considering how cold he’s been, but he made them pay by nailing three shots from long range in the period. In general, the Wizards seemed a bit confused from the start, with their defense lacking in energy, and their offense in cohesion. Their only bright spot was Bradley Beal, who had 10 points in the quarter. The arrival of the bench units only made things worse for the Wiz, as their blah bench was severely outplayed by the Clippers’ phenomenal one. Shai hit a halfcourt shot to end the 1st quarter, a presage of things to come. He started the next quarter with a coast to coast layup, then a steal and another layup. The bench moved the ball beautifully, getting easy shots time and again, and preventing the Wiz from getting into sets. Scott Brooks brought back John Wall and Otto Porter early, and Wall in particular finally got the Wizards’ offense going. Still, the Wiz looked helpless on defense despite forcing a few turnovers, and even when they did get stops, the Clippers would just g et offensive rebounds. The Clippers led at halftime 69-54, looking like the much better team in the process.
The third quarter was much of the same. Wall and Beal scored a bit, but nobody else on the Wizards could get anything going on that end, and the Clippers continued to generate easy looks on offense. Their lead continued to grow until it hit the 20 point mark late in the quarter. To start the 4th, Doc put in Boban to a standing ovation. The big man had little to do early in the period, as it was the Lou Williams show. After mostly distributing early in the game, Lou decided to put the Wiz away, and scored 14 points in the first 4.5 minutes of the quarter to do so. With seven minutes left, and the Clips up by 25, Doc emptied the bench, and the rest of the game was garbage time, mostly featuring Shai running pick and rolls with Boban. It was a clear, utter victory.
- Avery Bradley has a game: Avery Bradley had his best game as a Clipper tonight, scoring 15 points on 6-12 shooting and 3-6 from the field, and making his defense felt on the other end. His most emphatic play was a stuff on a John Wall layup in the 1st quarter, and while Brad Beal got the best of him a few times, his energy and pressure was notable. This was the Avery Bradley that the Clippers paid over $12 million for, and who was considered such a key part of the Celtics in the mid-2010s.
- Tobias Harris, consistently very good: Tobias Harris had his 3rd double-double tonight, pouring in 22 points on 8-14 shooting and adding 11 rebounds in just 30 minutes. He never dominated the ball, or took a ton of shots in a row. He just quietly kept scoring and getting buckets all night, with no Wizards player really looking like they could guard him at any stretch. More impressively, this is his third game with double-digit rebounds in six games this year, after only having the same number in 80 games last season. One of the key things that was going to make him a better player this season was his rebounding improving, and he’s stood out massively in that regard so far.
- Clippers play gorgeous offense: The Wizards’ defense was putrid, but credit to the Clippers for taking advantage. They moved the ball around constantly, moved without the ball, and generated good shots rather than settling for easy ones. This led to a ridiculous 35 assists (to only 14 turnovers), the most I can remember the Clippers getting in a long time. Nine players scored in double figures, and every player on the active roster (13 total) scored. It was a pure, utter clinic in offense by the Clippers, and it was beautiful to watch. Among the guys who got in on the action were Mike Scott (4-5 from the field, 3-3 from three) and Pat Beverley, who nailed several threes late in the 3rd to put the game out of reach. To see those guys get going was a very welcome sight after their offensive struggles early this season.
- Shai is smooth: While some of Shai’s stats came in garbage time, his 10 point, 8 rebound, 7 assist, 2 steal night with only 1 turnover on 4-8 shooting is still incredibly impressive for a rookie. He did have some bad fouls, but his defense was mostly pretty solid on some tough covers, and he never let a mistake get him down. On offense, he’s simply fantastic. He conducts the offense with the aplomb of a 10-year veteran, not a 20 year old rookie, and reads the court very nicely. With Bradley and Beverley picking up their play, Shai starting seems less imminent, but he will play a key role on this team all year.