Kawhi Leonard/Photo courtesy of San Antonio Spurs, NBA.com
Kawhi Leonard contracted pink eye during the preseason. The San Antonio Spurs’ small forward then missed the team’s first game of the regular season, and he entered Monday night’s game against the Clippers at Staples Center struggling with a 9.0 scoring average. He told several publications he was suffering from blurred vision.
Well, he appears back to normal. Leonard scored a game-high 26 points on 10 of 18 shooting in the Spurs. 89-85 victory over the Clippers. He also had 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals, including a key steal late from Chris Paul.
His performance brought this reaction from Clippers forward Blake Griffin.
“He’s tough,” Griffin said. “He hits shots, he plays, he steals and he gave a little bit of everything. He is tough to play against. He’s a good player.”
Leonard, out of King High School in Riverside and San Diego State, talked about his recovery.
“I missed about three weeks,” he said. “No contact. I didn’t see anybody on my team at all. I was just really isolated out. So I knew it was going to take time, but I’m still trying to push through it and get healthy with my right eye.”
Leonard, just 23, is in his fourth season. He averaged a career-best 12.8 points in 2013-14.
Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com
- The Spurs are the defending NBA champions, but the Clippers were leading the entire game until a 12-0 run that began with 5:18 left in the game and culminated with 32.8 seconds remaining sealed their fate. San Antonio took its first lead at 83-82 with 1:44 left in the game, and by then it was obvious the Clippers were deflated. This is not the makings of a Clippers team picked by many experts to get to at least the Western Conference Finals.
- The 15 turnovers the Clippers had were their most so far this season. Previously they had committed 11, 14, 8, 10, 14, 7 turnovers, respectively. It didn’t help that their two best players – Chris Paul and Blake Griffin – combined for seven of those turnovers. Paul had four, Griffin three. Each had a pivotal turnover in the waning moments, though the one Griffin had was perpetuated by a pass into the paint from Jamal Crawford that seemed to surprise Griffin.
- Perhaps lost in the defeat was a fine defensive game from DeAndre Jordan. He blocked five shots and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. Jordan had 14 rebounds in Saturday’s victory over Portland, and his season average is up to 11.0; he led the league at 13.6 a season ago.
- Even though Paul had the ball stolen from him by Kawhi Leonard with under a minute to play, Paul nearly had his second triple-double of the young campaign. He scored 13 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and doled out nine assists.
- One thing is certain, this game tells us that the Clippers have a lot of work to do. Sure, the Spurs are the defending champions, but they did not play well all night and then somehow emerged victorious over a Clippers team that couldn’t get out of its own way in the second half of the fourth quarter. The Clippers got a layup from Paul with 5:49 to play, then got only three more points on free throws from Jamal Crawford the rest of the way.
Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com
Blake Griffin scored just 14 points and pulled down one lousy rebound Wednesday night in the Clippers’ 121-104 loss at Golden State; the Clippers trailed by as many as 29 points in the third quarter. Doc Rivers addressed reporters after he spent a good half an hour in the locker room.
He was asked what he said to his players, and this was his response.
“I didn’t say much,” Rivers said. “I just let them blow smoke up each others’ asses. That’s all they did, in my opinion. But I let them just talk it out. But listen, I just think if you’re going to talk, you’ve gotta be real. I’m not a big fan of group meetings. Unless they’re real group meetings.”
Perhaps, Rivers is right, based on what Griffin told reporters a few minutes later in the locker room.
“We talked about some things and everybody said positive things,” Griffin said. “We knew Doc was going to be emotional and we were all emotional. We were passionate about what we were saying and some good is going to come from it.”
DeAndre Jordan/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
- DeAndre Jordan played 38 minutes in this game, and he had five measly rebounds. How does that happen? He is 6-foot-11 and this past season he led the league in rebounding with a 13.6 average. He is averaging 9.3 this season through four games. Only one of Jordan’s five rebounds came on the defensive boards.
- If Reggie Bullock can come in and continue to hit bit 3-point baskets off the bench, that will be quite a coup for the Clippers. He scored 12 points – all on 3-pointers – and two of the baskets were in crucial moments.
- Not that anyone ever doubted the toughness of Chris Paul, but to have a triple-double with a mildly sprained left foot is truly amazing. That a 6-foot guard would get 10 rebounds under those circumstances, is even more so.
- It was good to see Blake Griffin follow a poor game against Sacramento with another stellar game. He had 31 points on 14 of 21 shooting. He also had nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
- The Clippers are still allowing their opponents too many open looks, but they seemed to cut down on them in this one. The Jazz shot 46.8 percent from the field, 37 percent (10 of 27) from 3-point range. One Jazz player not guarded closely enough was Gordon Hayward, who scored 27 points on 10 of 19 shooting, 5 of 12 from 3-point range.
Jordan Farmar/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
Coach Doc Rivers said his team’s reserves kind of let the team down in its 118-111 victory over the Lakers on Friday at Staples Center. Were it not for the second unit Sunday, the Clippers likely would have lost to the Sacramento Kings by much more than 98-92. Starting power forward Blake Griffin seems to realize that.
It was early in the second quarter that reserves Jordan Farmar (8), Spencer Hawes (6) and Hedo Turkoglu (3) scored all 17 points during a 17-2 Clippers run.
“I thought that we (the starters) played poorly and the second unit played good,” Griffin said. “The second unit did a good job in the second quarter by putting pressure on them (the Kings). We tried to get back in it in the third quarter, but we could not.”
Blake Griffin has little for which to be happy Sunday/Staff photo by David Crane
- Blake Griffin got frustrated at the officiating and it might have affected his game. Griffin did get hammered a few times when fouls were not called. Griffin scored 17 points, but he shot just 6 of 20. This came two nights after he scored 39 points on 13 of 23 from the field in a 118-111 victory over the Lakers on Friday night.
- DeAndre Jordan needs to quit chirping so much at the referees. It doesn’t seem like he’s doing himself or his team any good by getting a technical foul late in the game that cost the Clippers a point.
- The Clippers were outrebounded 46-35, so that issue continues. They were outrebounded by Oklahoma City 47-33 in the season-opener, by the Lakers 40-36. In three games, the Clippers have been outrebounded by a combined 133-104. That’s a negative differential of 29. That won’t cut the mustard.
- The Clippers went 0-for-12 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter. But Rivers afterward told reporters that he was fine with the shots his team took. Still, one has to wonder why the Clippers didn’t try to work the ball inside more once the basket started shrinking. Perhaps the Clippers figured that since they were 9 of 19 (47.4 percent) from 3-point range after three quarters, they’d have to start falling again. If so, they were wrong. The Clippers shot just 37.5 percent from the field overall.
- Nothing against Sacramento, it has some good players. Heck, DeMarcus Cousins was a beast in scoring 34 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. But the more-talented Clippers were at home, and took a 13-6 lead. Again, the Clippers look so good early, kind of like they did when they opened a 15-point lead over the Lakers in the first quarter of that game Friday. Then, poof, just like that the Kings go on a 15-0 run. Not long after, the Clippers embark on a 17-2 run. How does this happen? It just seems like the Clippers are checking in and out of the game mentally. Or, as Spencer Hawes intimated, maybe they are becoming “complacent” after starting quickly.
Blake Griffin battles against the guard of the Lakers’ Carlos Boozer/Staff photo by Michael Owen Baker
Blake Griffin finished third in the MVP voting a season ago. The more nights he has like Friday’s, the better chance he has of moving up a rung or two on that ladder.
Griffin scored 39 points on 13 of 23 shooting in the Clippers’ 118-111 victory over the Lakers at Staples Center. He made both of his 3-point attempts, 11 of 12 from the free-throw line. He also had seven rebounds and four assists. He had five turnovers as well, but he played nearly 40 minutes, so no big deal there.
And, perhaps as vital as anything, he was calling for the ball in a hotly contested game.
“I’ve become a little more comfortable and confident each year,” Griffin said.
Teammate Chris Paul said a mouthful.
“Tonight was the night where he started to understand who he is, and how good he is,” Paul said. “He demanded the ball, and I think that was great. Every time he posts and says ‘Bring it,’ it’s like music to our ears because he deserves it. He is our go-to guy.”
DeAndre Jordan had a big block down the stretch Thursday/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
- This may have been just the first game of the 2014-15 season, but the idea that the Clippers had difficulty putting away OKC when the Thunder were missing reigning MVP Kevin Durant and guard Reggie Jackson, is kind of scary going forward; that’s not to mention that guard Russell Westbrook played only eight minutes because he fractured a finger in the second quarter.
- The Clippers had a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter and nearly lost it when the Thunder’s Sebastian Telfair hit a 3-pointer to pull OKC within 89-88. Again, that this would happen when the Clippers are basically at full strength and the Thunder were at about two-thirds of that, is head-shaking.
- One of the things the Clippers were so poor at during the preseason – rebounding – was again at work in this one. The Thunder outrebounded the Clippers 47-33.
- The Clippers shot 72 percent (18 of 25) from the free-throw line. That’s not terrific. But Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick were 4-for-4 in the waning moments, and the Clippers will need that kind of clutch free-throw shooting all season because they figure to be in a lot of close games with the league’s better teams.
- The Clippers also were clutch down the stretch defensively. DeAndre Jordan blocked Telfair’s driving shot attempt with under 10 seconds to play. Not long before that, Jamal Crawford stole the ball away from the Thunder, preventing them a chance to take the lead just seconds after Telfair hit that 3-pointer to get his team within a point.
Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin scored 21 points, but the Clippers were beaten 99-89 by the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center in the final exhibition game. The Clippers, who open the real season Oct. 30 against Oklahoma City, finished 2-6.
J.J. Redick and Jared Cunningham scored 12 apiece for Los Angeles, but no one else on the team was in double figures. Chris Paul had eight points and 11 assists, Spencer Hawes had nine points and seven rebounds and Hedo Turkoglu scored eight points.
DeAndre Jordan led the Clippers in rebounding with nine, but the team was outrebounded 49-39.
Portland, which went 4-3 in exhibition play, got 21 points from Damian Lillard, 14 from Meyers Leonard and 13 from Chris Kaman, who also had nine rebounds.
Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin scored 17 points in the first half for the Clippers on Friday, but no other player on the team was in double figures as they trailed the Portland Trail Blazers 54-46 at intermission at Staples Center.
J.J. Redick had seven points in the half, Matt Barnes six.
Damian Lilard has 18 points for the Trail Blazers.
Los Angeles is shooting 48.8 percent from the field to just 42.5 for Portland. But the Trail Blazers have been to the free-throw line 19 times and have made 16. The Clippers are 3 of 5 from the line.