Blake Griffin, Chris Paul say defense was key to Wednesday’s rout at New York

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin says players are trusting one another more on defense/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers played splendidly on offense Wednesday when they routed the New York Knicks 111-80 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. They shot 56.4 percent from the field, 39.3 (11 of 28) from 3-point range. The only area in which they didn’t really excel was the free-throw line, where they made just 66.7 percent (12 of 18).

But the Clippers wanted to talk defense afterward. They held the Knicks to 35.4 percent shooting from the field – 21.7 (5 of 23) from beyond the arc.

I think we’re just playing a little bit more consistently,” Blake Griffin said. “Guys are trusting each other and having each others’ backs, which is imperative on the defensive end.”

Said Chris Paul, to a reporter: “I actually called everybody in the huddle and said, ‘What’s making this fun is that we’re getting stops.’ It’s not even about the dunks and the lobs – that’s all good and everything. It’s funny that you didn’t notice that we were getting stops and that was the key to getting the lead.”

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 111-80 victory over the New York Knicks

DeAndre Jordan throws down a dunk for Clippers in their rout of New York on Wednesday. Jordan had 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks/Photo by Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

 

- Blake Griffin and Chris Paul said ahead of this three-game roadie that this was a “business trip.” In other words, they’re playing two lousy teams and one mediocre team, so just go out and take care of business. They did that with the Knicks in this one, bolting to a 63-33 halftime lead and never looking back. The Knicks are now 14-58. Up next are the Philadelphia 76ers (18-54) on Friday and then the Boston Celtics (31-40) on Sunday.

- It was nice to see the play of the bench in this one. Austin Rivers led the team with 21 points on 9 of 10 shooting. That was big because Rivers had scored a grand total of 14 points in his previous five games. Spencer Hawes, who has really struggled, even got into the act with seven points on 3 of 6 shooting.

- It sounds like a broken record, but J.J. Redick had yet another fine game. He scored 17 points while making 7 of 11 from the field – 2 of 4 from 3-point range in just 22 minutes; the starters played fewer minutes than usual because of the lopsided nature of the game. Redick’s season scoring average is at a career-high 15.9. He is averaging 20.8 points in 13 games this month while shooting 48.8 percent overall, 41.9 from beyond the arc.

- It was kind of a weird game for point guard Paul. In 28 minutes he scored 11 points with 16 assists and four steals. But he committed five turnovers. Paul is averaging 3.1 turnovers this month, the highest of any month this season. His best month was December, when he averaged just 1.6. He’s averaging 2.4 on the season.

- After taking 19 of 21 shots, respectively, in his past two games, Griffin took just eight shots in this one. He made three for 14 points. He also had six rebounds, three assists and a steal. He’s now averaging 18 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists in six games since his return from an elbow injury. He’s averaging 22.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.1 rebounds on the season.

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New York coach Derek Fisher praises Clippers after they rout his Knicks

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers scored a game-high 21 points in the Clippers’ victory Wednesday at New York/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Derek Fisher’s New York Knicks had just been thrashed 111-80 by the Clippers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, when he doled out quite a compliment.

They are a good team,” said Fisher, in his first year at the New York helm. “They are athletic, fast and strong. You don’t understand the speed and force that these guys play with unless you are out there.”

Austin Rivers scored 21 points off the bench to lead Los Angeles (47-25); he shot 9 of 10 from the field. J.J. Redick contributed 17 points, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan had 14 apiece and Chris Paul and Matt Barnes each scored 11. Paul also had 16 assists. Jordan also blocked five shots and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Cleanthony Early led the Knicks (14-58) with 18 points off the bench.

The Clippers next play Friday at Philadelphia (18-54).

 

 

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Chris Paul: Clippers won’t know exactly who they are until Jamal Crawford returns

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Chris Paul was asked Monday if the team is starting to find the consistency it would like to have. The Clippers have won four in a row and own a record of 46-25.

Paul quickly brought the injured Jamal Crawford into the conversation. Crawford, the sixth-man averaging 16.4 points, has missed the past 10 games with a calf injury.

“We’re still trying to find it,” Paul said. “And like I’ve said, we can play as well as we want to right now. But ‘Mal is a huge piece of this team. So I don’t care what anybody says, we’re not going to see who we really are until ‘Mal comes back.”

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 107-100 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

- Blake Griffin called this “a big win for us.” He’s right in as much as every victory is big this time of season because the Clippers are trying to get as high in the standings as they can for playoff-seeding purposes. The Clippers improved, in a way, with this win because record-wise, they now have the fourth-best in the Western Conference at 46-25. But Portland, which has the fifth-best record of 44-24, is still technically in fourth because it leads the Northwest Division. Check the conference standings right here and you’ll see that their better record notwithstanding, the Clippers are still listed in the No. 5 spot. That said, I was told today that if the Clippers played the Trail Blazers as the No. 5 seed to Portland’s No. 4 – and the Clippers had the better record – they would still get homecourt advantage. Confused?

- Griffin scored 23 points on 10 of 21 shooting. Those were the most shots he’s taken in five games since returning after missing 15 games with a staph infection in his right elbow. He has taken more shots in each game along the way, going from 10 to 12 to 16 to 19 to 21.

- What a terrific all-around game by Chris Paul. He scored 23 points on 8 of 19 shooting with 11 assists, seven rebounds and four steals. He had just two turnovers in 37 1/2 minutes and made 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. His only real blemish was his 0-for-4 shooting performance from 3-point range. Can’t have everything.

- J.J. Redick scored 20 points on 7 of 16 shooting – 3 of 6 from 3-point range. That was Redick’s fourth consecutive game of scoring 20 points or more. He has scored at least 20 points in seven of the 12 games this month, during which he’s averaging 21.2 points.

- It would be unfair if we didn’t mention that New Orleans was missing several key players in this game. Yes, the Clippers were without sixth-man Jamal Crawford and his 16.4 scoring average for the 10th consecutive game. But the Pelicans were minus guards Tyreke Evans (16.5 points per game) and Jrue Holiday (15.2), forward Ryan Anderson (14.6) and center Omer Asik (10.0 rebounds per game). All were injured.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 116-105 victory over Sacramento Kings

Chris Paul

Chris Paul led the Clippers with 30 points in Wednesday’s 116-105 victory at Sacramento/:Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

- The Clippers received very little from their bench in this victory. Austin Rivers, Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Spencer Hawes all shot 1 of 4 from the field, meaning they were a combined 3 of 12. Nate Robinson was 2 of 3 for four points, but he played only 9 1/2 minutes. Well, when four of your starters each score at least 19 points – Blake Griffin and Hedo Turkoglu had 19 apiece, J.J. Redick scored 27 and Chris Paul 30 – the bench doesn’t need to score much.

- Speaking of Turkoglu, his 19 points were a season-high. He shot very well, making 7 of 12 shots overall, 5 of 10 from 3-point range. He made his second consecutive start in place of Matt Barnes (hamstring). He also played solid defense on Kings forward Rudy Gay, who made just 6 of 19 from the field to get his 23 points. “Tonight he looked like the defender that he was before,” Kings coach George Karl said. “When he was in his prime, his defense was pretty first class. I thought that he did a nice job on Rudy Gay tonight.”

- There is one thing that seems to have gone unnoticed regarding the return of Griffin. Remember how he had taken his game to the outside more than ever this season, thus resulting in his rebounding numbers being down? Well, he had 10 rebounds in this one, meaning he has had 11, 11 and 10 in his three games back. He’s averaging a career-low 7.7 for the season.

- What can we say about Redick? He had himself another fine outing with his 27 points. He shot 9 of 16, 7 of 12 from beyond the arc. Redick is now averaging 15.6 points while shooting 46.6 percent from the field, 42.4 percent (160 of 377) from 3-point range. All of those numbers represent career-highs. Redick is averaging 20.7 points in 10 games this month.

- So, had a few tweets and whatnot about why it was so difficult for the Clippers to put away a lowly team like the Kings, who are now just 22-45. The Clippers led just 87-86 with 8:07 to play. Yes, the Clippers were again without Barnes and Jamal Crawford (calf). But the Kings
were without All-Star post DeMarcus Cousins (calf) and have been without guard Darren Collison (hip) since early February. That said, keep in mind that the Clippers all season have had trouble maintaining focus throughout a given game. That’s still happening. Yet, they are 44-25 and tied for fifth-place in the Western Conference standings. The point being, if the Clippers can figure out their in-game lapses – and we realize that is “if” – they could be tough to deal with in the post-season.

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Chris Paul’s 30 points help Clippers put away lowly Kings 116-105 at Sleep Train

Chris Paul

Chris Paul scored 30 points in the Clippers’ victory Wednesday night at Sacramento/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Once again minus Jamal Crawford (calf) and Matt Barnes (hamstring), it took the Clippers some time to put the lowly Sacramento Kings away. But Chris Paul’s 3-pointer with 3:44 to play was the dagger in their 116-105 victory Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

Paul’s basket gave him 30 points on the night, and it gave the Clippers a 13-point lead at 106-93. The Clippers – 44-25 – remained tied with Dallas for fifth-place in the Western Conference standings.

J.J. Redick contributed 27 points for the Clippers, Blake Griffin had 19 points in his third game back. He also had 10 rebounds and five assists. Hedo Turkoglu, starting for Barnes, came through with 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting – 5 of 10 from 3-point range. DeAndre Jordan scored just six points, but he grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked four shots.

The Clippers shot 51.1 percent from the field, 45.9 (17 of 37) from 3-point range.

The Kings (22-45) got 23 points from Rudy Gay and 16 off the bench from Andre Miller. They were without center DeMarcus Cousins (calf) and guard Darren Collison, who has not played since early February because of a hip injury.

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Chris Paul’s jumper gives Clippers a 2-point lead at halftime at Sacramento

J.J. Redick

J.J. Redick scored 17 points in the first half Wednesday night at Sacramento/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Chris Paul’s jumper with 1.4 seconds to play in the first half Wednesday gave the Clippers a 51-49 lead at halftime at Sacramento.

J.J. Redick led the Clippers (43-25) with 17 points in the half; he made 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Paul and Blake Griffin scored 10 points apiece and Hedo Turkoglu – starting for Matt Barnes (hamstring) for the second consecutive night – had five points. DeAndre Jordan did not score, but he grabbed nine rebounds.

Jamal Crawford (calf) is missing his eighth consecutive game.

The Kings (22-44), who are without All-Star post DeMarcus Cousins, got 11 points from Rudy Gay and seven from Ryan Hollins.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 100-98 loss Sunday to the Houston Rockets

James Harden (No. 13) and Trevor Ariza of the Rockets celebrate their 100-98 victory over the Clippers as Chris Paul and Matt Barnes look on/Photo by Kelvin Kuo, Associated Press

- People are going to wonder if Blake Griffin’s return from a staph infection in his right elbow threw the team out of whack and that was why it committed 20 turnovers. Griffin had five of them, DeAndre Jordan four and Chris Paul and J.J. Redick three apiece. But if you watched the game, it really didn’t appear that way. Griffin’s five turnovers certainly had to do with rust, but coach Doc Rivers afterward said he didn’t think that Griffin affected the team’s rhythm, even if Griffin’s timing was off. Griffin’s high for turnovers this season is six in a 101-97 victory Dec. 29. He had five on four other occasions.

- Griffin made 4 of 10 shots from the field, scored 11 points with 11 rebounds and eight assists. He also had two steals and a block. Under the circumstances, that wasn’t too shabby at all. He said his elbow was sore at the end, but that was expected. Griffin also told reporters he has only 60 percent of his strength in his right triceps as a result of his down time.

- Jordan Hamilton had a good game off the bench, scoring eight points on 3 of 5 shooting – 2 of 3 from beyond the arc. But he sustained a high ankle sprain late in the third quarter and did not return. Hamilton’s second 10-day contract is up, and coach Rivers said after the game that he was going to more than likely sign Hamilton for the rest of the season.

- It’s somewhat amazing that the Rockets shot just 37.2 percent from the field – 23.3 percent (7 of 30) from 3-point range – and they still beat a Clippers team that shot 43.9 percent overall, 46.2 percent (12 of 26) from beyond the arc. All one has to do is look at what happened at the free-throw line for an explanation. Houston shot 36 free throws and made 29 for an 80.6 percent clip. The Clippers shot 24 and made just 14 (58.3 percent). DeAndre Jordan was just 1 of 8, and his season percentage is now 40.1.

- The Clippers had done a fine job holding down James Harden in three previous games. He had scored 16, nine and 21 points while shooting just 12 of 37 from the field (32.4 percent) – 3 of 20 (15 percent) from 3-point range. He scored 34 points in this one, making 7 of 16 from the field, 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. His aggressive play allowed him to go to the free-throw line 18 times and he made 17. Harden is averaging 26.9 points on the season, second in the league behind Russell Westbrook (27.5).

 

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Chris Paul scoffs at supposed extra motivation had by Mavericks on Friday

Austin Rivers of the Clippers drives past Devin Harris of the Mavericks on Friday in Dallas/Photo by Tim Sharp, Associated Press

 

When the Clippers hit American Airlines Center in Dallas on Friday, they were to take on a Mavericks team that had lost five of their previous seven game. Not only that, they had been hammered by 33 points (127-94) by the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.

It stood to reason Dallas was hungry to turn that around, and it did with a 129-99 victory over the Clippers, who are now 9-6 without Blake Griffin.

Clippers guard Chris Paul afterward was asked if he thought the Mavericks had extra motivation because of the drubbing at the hands of the Cavaliers. He kind of bought it, but kind of didn’t.

“We knew that coming into the game,” Paul said. “All of that rah-rah stuff doesn’t mean anything. You still have to play the game. We just didn’t play well.”

The Clippers (42-24) next play host to the Houston Rockets (43-22) on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

 

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