The Clippers shrunk a once 15-point lead to just three in the final two minutes, but couldn’t quite pull off the comeback, losing 94-85 to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Clippers never got going on offense early on. Coming into last night’s game, Randy Foye had been red hot, hitting 24 of his last 54 3-pointers and scoring 20+ points in four of the past six games. But last night Foye was forced to take some some bad shots early on to beat the 24-second clock and never got into a rhythm. Finishing just 5-17 from the floor and 1-7 from downtown, Foye scored just 11 points. The other Clippers shooters didn’t fare much better: Caron Butler shot just 2-7 for 5 points, and Nick Young shot 0-5, putting up a goose-egg in the points column. As a team, the Clippers were flat all night, shooting just 40 percent from the floor, and 4-18 from beyond the 3-point line.
Though Chris Paul finished with 21 points, nine of those came in the 4th quarter when the game was all but out of reach. Frustrated with a non-call early on, Paul picked up his 8th technical foul of the year, which puts him in the top 10 in the NBA in that category. The Clippers looked lost on offense all night long, and it’s no wonder looking at the box score that Paul had his lowest assist total of the month so far.
The other Clippers all-star, Blake Griffin, had another solid first quarter, hitting two 18-footers early on and scoring 8 of his 19 points in the first quarter. But Memphis did everything right against the Clippers big man the rest of the game, keeping him off the glass (6 rebounds for the game) and preventing him from any of his trademark monster dunks that have routinely given his team momentum.
For the Grizzlies, big man Marc Gasol showed Lob City why he made his first all-star team this season, scoring 18 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists. His consistent and fluid play on the post makes him a constant threat, and his passing last night made reminding Lob City fans of what Blake Griffin had been doing great the past few games. Unlike Lob City, the Grizzlies were able to move the ball well all night long, make their open shots, and consistently hit the offensive glass for second chances.
Defense has been Clippers Achilles heel
It almost became routine for the Clippers to force a shot to beat the 24-second clock, constantly putting their shooters like Foye and Butler in tough spots. You can either blame Chris Paul for failing to get in the lane early on and set his shooters up for better shots, or you could credit a tough Memphis Grizzlies team for doing what they do best, play tough defense. Holding the Clippers to just 60 points through the first three quarters, it reminded me of what the Boston Celtics have done so well for years and what has helped them rise in the standings the second half of the 2012 season. It’s a tough defense that will give you a chance in any game, no matter how well your offense is performing. In games like last night’s, when their shots were falling too, it’s no wonder Memphis was able to open up the lead to 15 in the third quarter.
Yet despite a flat performance on both ends of the floor, the Clippers made a late 4th quarter run. Highlighted by another solid 4th quarter for Chris Paul, who now leads the league in most points in the final three minutes of the 4th quarter (Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook are numbers two and three), the Clippers pulled within three points with just over a minute to go. Yet a tough defensive stand was squandered when Rudy Gay (16 points, 6 rebounds) beat Caron Butler for a backdoor layup on a beautiful dish by OJ Mayo (13 points, 5 assists off the bench). The bucket put Memphis up by five and ended the chance for the Clippers to steal a victory.
Another solid performance by Eric Bledsoe
Clippers backup point guard Eric Bledsoe had another strong outing in 21 minutes. Bledsoe once again came in and energized the Clippers when they needed him most, hitting a three pointer, making a huge block, and consistently running circles around Memphis on offense during his time on the floor in the second half. Finishing with 11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, a blocked shot and a three pointer, it makes you wonder why the Clippers don’t put him out there more, especially in games where their offense is flat, and their defense isn’t holding up.
Bledsoe is a unique talent that can not only energize the group and help build momentum, he’s also does a bit of everything, including play a whole lot of defense, something not many Clippers can claim as a strong suit. The Clippers have a great offensive team with many threats and are tough to stop once they are in a rhythm. But when they are not, they simply don’t win many ball games.
Using Bledsoe more often early in the game, especially as a defensive stopper and momentum builder is something that can only give them a better chance entering the playoffs. With veteran Mo Williams still sidelined with a sprained toe, now is the chance to give Bledsoe the minutes he will need to build his confidence, find his role on this Clippers team, and really be able to make a difference when it counts.
Categories: Clippers Blog Tags: blake griffin, Boston Celtics, Caron Butler, chris paul, Clippers, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, Lob City, Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies, Mo Williams, Nick Young, OJ Mayo, Randy Foye, Rudy Gay
Lob City was hot from the opening tip in this one, never giving up the lead and beating the Sacramento Kings for the second game in a row, 109-94.
Blake Griffin had another monster game, leading the way with 27 points, 14 rebounds and 3 assists. It would have been easy for Griffin to respond verbally to Sacramento center, DeMarcus Cousins, who had some not-so-kind words about Blake after Thursday’s loss to the Clippers. Cousins called Griffin a “baby” and an “actor,” but rather than chime in with words of his own for the 21-year-old big man out of Kentucky, Griffin let his play speak for itself. He scored ten points in the first quarter, was relentless on the glass all night long, and played the first 16 minutes of the game, never giving Cousins a chance to dominate the Clippers second unit.
Though he had a few slam dunks throughout the night, the Kings kept the Lob City all-star from making any of his trademark jams through much of the game, which always gets the Lob City fans out of their seats and shifts the momentum. But that all ended in the fourth quarter as Lob City put up these back-to-back alley-oop jams:
Categories: Clippers Blog Tags: blake griffin, Caron Butler, chris paul, Clippers, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, Kenyon Martin, Lakers, Lob City, Nick Young, Randy Foye, Reggie Evans, Sacramento Kings
Lob City struggled throughout much of the game, but Chris Paul anchored his team to a 103-86 win over the Phoenix Suns. Paul had 15 assists in this one, to go along with 15 points and 5 rebounds. His counterpart for the Suns, Steve Nash, also had 15 assists. But with just one point on 0-4 shooting, Nash was on and off the floor in the second half and failed to help the Suns find a rhythm on offense. Paul on the other hand was steady all night, helping Lob City to their third straight win and keeping the Clippers in the 4 slot for the Western Conference playoffs.
Blake Griffin was a monster all night for Lob City, scoring 27 points and pulling in 14 boards. His best stretch was a set of back-t0-back plays including a beautiful pick and role jam with Chris Paul that sent Suns forward Channing Frye looking for cover, followed by a steal and alley-oop dunk with aforementioned CP3:
Griffin was calm, cool and collected all night long, having fun and getting the entire team into it by the end of the night. He managed to stay off the free throw line (1-3) and instead used his quickness and strength to get to the basket and create shots for himself all night long. He seems to be getting quicker and more confident with the ball each and every game. If he keeps improving at this pace, learning how to put up 20-30 points consistently each night, it will really give Lob City a chance at a title this year.
Categories: Clippers Blog Tags: blake griffin, Bobby Simmons, Caron Butler, Channing Frye, chris paul, Clippers, Eric Bledsoe, Kenyon Martin, Lob City, Mo Williams, Nick Young, Phoenix Suns, Randy Foye, Steve Nash, Western Conference
Lob City Clippers continue to struggle the second half of the season, getting blown out by the Oklahoma City Thunder last night 114-91. Blake Griffin never got going in this one, scoring a season-low seven points on 3-11 shooting. Lob City has lost two in a row and six out of their last 10 games, and now trail the Los Angeles Lakers by a game and a half in their division.
Oklahoma City, on the other hand, showed Lob City why they are the number one team in the West. Led by star Kevin Durant (32 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists), they beat the Clippers up on the glass, out-rebounding them 49-32. They shot 54% from the field, hit on 21-22 free throws, and shot 40% from beyond the 3-point line.
It’s hard to beat anyone when they shoot that well. But if Lob City hopes to contend for a title this year, they are going to have to do better than they did last night.
Coach Del Negro to blame in Lob City?
According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, Lob City players are not happy with Coach Vinny del Negro. Broussard quotes one source saying, “Vinny has lost the team. They don’t want to play hard for him.”
This was clear to fans last night, as we watched the Clippers fall behind by 16 at halftime, only to lose by 23 points. Lob City did make a run in this one. They entered the 4th quarter trailing by 17 points, but thanks to an 8-0 run led by new addition Nick Young they had the lead down to nine early in the 4th quarter.
But after a Russell Westbrook layup with 9:30 left, Vinny Del Negro replaced both Nick Young and All-Star Chris Paul (10 assists and five steals in the game), putting in backup Eric Bledsoe for Paul at point guard. Bledsoe, though incredibly talented and showing more and more improvement lately, had only played five minutes the entire game up to this point. Paul never saw the floor again, and the Thunder went on to outscore the Clippers by 12 the rest of the way.
Categories: Clippers Blog Tags: blake griffin, Caron Butler, Chris Broussard, chris paul, Clippers, Derek Fisher, Eric Bledsoe, Kevin Durant, Lakers, Lob City, Lob City Clippers, Nick Young, Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Eric Bledsoe once again provided the Lob City Clippers dynamic energy off the bench, helping them defeat the visiting Atlanta Hawks 96-82. Bledsoe has been hit or miss much of the season, yet twice in the last three games he has picked up four steals. Tonight he added 14 points, two 3-pointers and two blocks, all in just 17 minutes.
Mo Williams, coming off the bench with Bledsoe, led the game in scoring with 25 points. He hit another three 3-pointers, and had a great all around game. If Lob City keeps getting great performances from Williams and Bledsoe, the Clippers bench could give them a chance against the best in the West come playoff time.