Recap: Five Thoughts Following Clippers-Grizzlies Part Dos


1) This Game Was Over When Chris Paul was pickpocketed by Grizzlies guard Mike Conley with the game on the line.

“All I kept thinking about is if I was at home watching this game, I’d say this dummy didn’t even get a shot up,” said Paul during the post-game. A moment that’ll be greatly criticized by the “what have you done” crowd that persists to hang over Paul following his (rare) shortcomings, if the Clippers were given the opportunity to re-do the possession, the ball would remain in Paul’s hands, especially on a night where Paul finished with 30 points and 10 assists.

Credit to Conley Jr. Like how Paul was expected to deliver in the late-game sequence, Conley, a noted defensive mastermind, lived up to the bill with the “Point God” opposite of him and the game on the line.

2) Let’s Clap One Up for DeAndre: The stat sheet wasn’t stuffed tonight as it had been in the previous four games, but this may be Jordan’s best game in the Blake Griffin-less era. Tasked with guarding one of the best low-post players in the game in Zach Randolph, Jordan lived up to the task, holding Zbo to 7 points on 2-12 shooting from the field. If you’re familiar with the Clippers-Grizzlies rivalry, you know how big of a step this is — in the past, Randolph has bullied Jordan near the basket, using footwork and body frame to create space and eliminate the expected length advantage Jordan has over him.

3) Speaking of Big Men, the excuses are beginning to run out for Spencer Hawes. With Blake Griffin in the picture, it was “he’s having difficulty adjusting to a reserve role after years as a starter”, but things have yet to improve outside of the typical “starter” stat boost — per NBA stats, the Clippers have a net rating of -13.4 when Hawes is on the floor during the sans-Blake Griffin period (154 minutes); off the floor, that number spikes to 27.7 in 134 minutes. With tonight’s loss, Hawes failed to make a dent in the game outside of three early blocks in the first quarter. If the Clippers are going to stay afloat without Blake, they’ll need Hawes to improve, but at this point, that may be asking for too much from a forward who’s owed nearly $20 million over the next three seasons.

4) Let’s Talk About the Grizzlies, since no one else wants to do it. This team is scary and they’re going to be a force come playoff time. Unlike in past years, this team has the tools to adapt to whichever opponent they come across in the Western Conference playoffs. Jeff Green provides size at small forward (and his best skill? Not being Tayshaun Prince), Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes provide consistent guard depth that was absent in the past, Courtney Lee is their Kyle Korver, and between Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Kosta Koufos, opponents are going to face one hell of a frontcourt. All of this and one name is absent: Vince Carter. He’s struggled early on due to injury but if he slightly resembles the reserve we saw in Dallas last year, the West could be in trouble. Hopefully the Clippers can stay out of their way.

5) Next Up — Big Game James Comes to Town (sorry Lakers fans): I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but to bounce back from this loss, the Clippers will do it against James Harden and the Los Angeles Clippers. The bad news? It’s James Harden and he’s the frontrunner for MVP, depending on who you ask. The good news? Harden has struggled against the Clippers throughout his career, averaging 13.4 points on 34% shooting (23% from three) against Los Angeles in 18 total games.

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