There wasn’t much to this game, as it was probably one of the most boring and predictable contests the Clippers have played all season. The injury-battered Grizzlies, down all of their best players besides Jonas Valanciunas (who they then lost to an ankle sprain in the 3rd quarter) trailed the entire game, and never seemed like they had a chance against the Clippers, who were good enough at various points to establish an easy double-digit lead, and never relinquished it.
The Grizzlies never gave up, and made several big pushes to cut into the deficit, but these were mostly due to lapses in the Clippers’ play. The most frustrating of these was in the middle of the 4th quarter, as what had been a blowout became a 12 point game with 6 minutes to play, forcing Doc Rivers to bring his starters back into the game. Fortunately, order was quickly restored, and the last few minutes were garbage time, with the Clippers’ youngsters getting some much-needed run. While it wasn’t pretty, or exciting, it was just a solid win by a playoff team at home against a much inferior opponent.
Gallo continues to sizzle: Danilo Gallinari’s career season marches on. The Italian forward was unstoppable tonight, getting to the free throw line 16 times (making 14 of them) and generally doing whatever he wanted against the inexperienced Grizzlies’ wings. He’s in a beautiful rhythm right now, completely in control and in his comfort zone. Gallo also pulled in 15 boards, a season high for him, and dished out 5 assists, including some gorgeous interior passes to Ivica Zubac. There simply aren’t many players in the NBA playing higher-quality basketball right now than Gallo. What a season for Danilo.
Pat Beverley not looking 100%: Pat returned yesterday against the Cavs after missing 1.5 games with a right hip pointer, but does not look fully healthy. He’s gone 2-11 from three the past two games after shooting over 40% most of the season, and has had 7 turnovers as well, far beyond his usual averages. Fortunately, the Clippers have two days off before their next game, and hopefully whatever is troubling Bev heals up or improves over that time. The Clippers need him at 100% going into the playoffs, and he doesn’t quite look it right now.
Wilson Chandler’s shooting woes: Outside of that one supernova 4th quarter against the Bucks, Wilson Chandler has been unable to find the range as a Clipper. He was 1-3 from the field tonight (0-2 from three), and is shooting just 14.3% from three a Clipper if that one quarter is not taken into account. He looked more comfortable in general tonight, pulling down several nice boards and making a few great passes down the court, but he will eventually need to start hitting some shots to get any real minutes in the postseason.
Road to 50: The Clippers are now just three wins away from the 50 win mark, usually the sign of a very good team, but will probably have some difficulty in getting there. Outside of a game against the injury-devastated Lakers, the Clippers’ last three games will be against the Warriors, Rockets, and Jazz, which are the three best teams in the Western Conference right now. They’ve had some success against the Rockets this season, but Houston is rolling right now. The Jazz game could end up being the most important of the season due to its impact on postseason seeding – while the Clippers seem to be close to avoiding the Warriors, they’d probably also prefer not to play the Rockets in the 1st round if at all possible.