Five things to take from Clippers’ 107-92 Game 1 victory over San Antonio

Jamal Crawford

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

 

Jamal Crawford had shot just 10 of 36 (27.7 percent) from the field in four games since returning from a calf injury that caused him to miss 17 consecutive games. To see him shoot 7 of 10 – 3 of 4 from 3-point range – and score 17 points in this game was nothing more than a really terrific thing for the Clippers. They need all they can get from a bench not nearly as deep as San Antonio’s.

– You could see it by the look of determination Chris Paul had on his face. There was just no way the Clippers were going to lose this game if he had anything to say about it. He scored 32 points on 13 of 20 from the field – 3 of 5 from beyond the arc – and also pulled down seven rebounds while doling out six assists. Doesn’t get much stronger than that. Will this be the year Paul and the Clippers get past the second round? Stay tuned.

– As good as Paul was, Blake Griffin was almost as good. He scored 26 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, had six assists and three blocked shots in an overall fine performance. He also showed some of the ferocity we don’t see quite as much since he added the outside game to his repertoire by throwing down a mean tomahawk dunk in the third quarter for a 77-61 lead. Griffin also wore that winning look.

– Even though the Clippers emerged victorious, one has to wonder if San Antonio’s deeper bench will eventually play a larger role in determining the outcome of these games. The Spurs got 43 points from six reserves, the Clippers got the 17 points from Crawford and only five more from two other players combined. The Clippers’ starters played many more minutes than their San Antonio counterparts. Griffin played nearly 43 minutes, DeAndre Jordan played over 38 minutes and Paul nearly 38. Kawhi Leonard played the most minutes for the Spurs at 33. Will the Clippers starters tire out if this continues?

– We can’t leave out the fans. They were as good as they have been all year, with the Spurs getting only a few cheers from a few people. The Clippers notice when fans at their Staples Center root for the opponent, and it was a good thing that almost all the love was for the Clippers in this one. When Griffin threw down that aforementioned monster slam, the Clippers faithful went absolutely wild.

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Clippers lead Spurs 49-43 at halftime in Game 1 at Staples Center

Blake Griffin scored 13 points, Jamal Crawford had nine and Chris Paul and J.J. Redick seven apiece and the Clippers led the San Antonio Spurs 49-43 at halftime of Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series Sunday at Staples Center.

The Clippers shot 47.2 percent from the field.

Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with nine points. San Antonio shot just 35.6 percent.

DeAndre Jordan scored five points for the Clippers, all on free throws as the Spurs went to the Hack-a-DJ late in the half. Jordan was 5 of 12 from the free-throw line.

 

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Clippers vs. Spurs: Game 1 reading material

Here’s a few links about today’s game while we wait for tip-off.

Let us know in the comments section who will win the series, and in how many games.

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Chris Paul says Clippers definitely more prepared for this go-round with Spurs

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Chris Paul’s first season with the Clippers was 2011-12. Paul helped the Clippers to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, where they were swept by in four games by the San Antonio Spurs.

The Clippers will play the Spurs in the first round beginning Sunday night at 7:30 at Staples Center. Paul was queried at practice this week as to whether his team is more prepared for this go-round with San Antonio. Paul answered sharply.

“If we’re not better prepared now than we were three years ago,” Paul said, “then we probably shouldn’t even play.”

The team in ’11-’12 had Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin but not Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick or Jamal Crawford.

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Nuggets coach Melvin Hunt praises DeAndre Jordan for two clutch free throws

DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

DeAndre Jordan has been victim to the hack-a-DJ ploy many coaches use on him because he is such a poor free-throw shooter. Foul Jordan on purpose, and chances are he won’t make more than one of two free throws – often times, he misses both ends.

Jordan, who is making just 39.7 percent of his free throws this season, was 4 of 10 (40 percent) from the line in Monday’s 110-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets. But he made both ends of an opportunity with 2:49 left in the game for a 98-97 Clippers lead. It was the only time Nuggets coach Melvin Hunt utilized hack-a-DJ, and it backfired.

“I tip my hat off to DeAndre,” Hunt said. “He’s such a good competitor. He went out there and made his free throws. That could have been a turning point in the game if he misses those. We were trying everything that we could do. We just came up a little short.”

Jordan finished with 20 points, 21 rebounds and four blocked shots.

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Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph thinks a lot of DeAndre Jordan’s defense

DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Coach Doc Rivers has been saying that Clippers’ center DeAndre Jordan is the best defensive player in the league. It sounds like Memphis’ Zach Randolph thinks a lot of Jordan, too.

Randolph on Saturday led the Grizzlies with 21 points in their 94-86 loss to the Clippers at Staples Center. But he shot just 8 of 19 (42.1 percent) from the field. Jordan was at least partly responsible, Randolph intimated.

“DeAndre is just long,” Randolph said. “DeAndre is long, athletic and one of the best defenders in the league.”

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Five things to take from the Clippers’ 105-100 victory over the Lakers

Jamal Crawford

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

 

– It figured it would be more difficult to dispatch the lowly Lakers in this one if for no other reason than professional pride. The Lakers were embarrassed Sunday, getting down by 43 points before losing by 28 (106-78) and there was probably no way that was going to happen again just two days later with that butt-kicking fresh in the minds of not only the Lakers, but the Clippers. It’s called human nature.

Jamal Crawford’s return after missing the previous 17 games with a calf injury went about as expected. A rhythm shooter, Crawford was bound to be rusty, and he was. After making his first shot, he made only one more to finish 2 of 7 from the field with four points. Afterward, he said the 19 minutes felt more like 35 to his legs. Crawford should be back to being Crawford in another game or two.

J.J. Redick once again improved upon the best season of his career by scoring 27 points. He made 9 of 14 from the field, 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Redick has leapfrogged Crawford as the team’s third-leading scorer at 16.4 points per game; Crawford is now at 16.2. Redick averaged 20.6 points in March and he’s at 22.3 in four games this month. He’s shooting 47.8 percent from the field, 43.9 from beyond the arc; both numbers are career bests. The 30-year-old is in his ninth season.

Blake Griffin had a terrific game with 27 points on 11 of 20 shooting. He also had seven rebounds, six assists and a blocked shot. As important as any of that, Griffin hit a big jump-shot with 28.3 seconds to play that went a long way in staving off the hard-playing Lakers. That gave the Clippers a 100-94 lead.

– One of the best things about this game – certainly for the fans – is that Lakers coach Byron Scott did not resort to that ridiculous hack-a-DJ ploy, purposely fouling the poor free-throw shooting DeAndre Jordan. Jordan took just two shots from the free-throw line, missing both. He scored only eight points. But as he often does when he doesn’t score much, he pulled down a whopping 17 rebounds and blocked three shots.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 110-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin scored 40 points in Tuesday’s loss to Golden State/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

– The absence of sixth-man Jamal Crawford was very obvious in this loss. While the Warriors got a big spark off the bench from post Marreese Speights, who had 13 points, the spark Crawford typically brings was not there to ignite as he missed his 14th consecutive game with a calf injury. Golden State got 34 points from its bench, the Clippers just 12. Sure, the Warriors’ bench played more minutes. But still, in games against the elite teams, Crawford not being in there becomes much more damaging. The good news is Crawford could return after the Clippers come back from their two-game trip that will see them play games Wednesday night at Portland and Saturday night at Denver.

DeAndre Jordan leads the league in field-goal percentage at 70.6, so shooting 1 of 5 in this one was certainly uncharacteristic. Interestingly, he seemed to have a couple of opportunities to throw down dunks but instead tried to lay the ball in the basket. That resulted in misses. Even fans were yelling at Jordan to “dunk the ball.”

Blake Griffin had a monster game. With 40 points on 16 of 25 shooting, he appears all the way back from the staph infection that was surgically removed from his right elbow. His season-high of 45 points came Dec. 8 in a 121-120 overtime victory over Phoenix. Griffin also pulled down 12 rebounds Tuesday, doled out five assists and blocked three shots.

– Considering this game was played at Staples Center and not Oracle Arena, there were way too many Warriors fans present. Both coach Doc Rivers and Griffin complained about that afterward, which was understandable. This isn’t the first time that has happened, but it makes one wonder just how much of a homecourt advantage the Clippers are going to have during the playoffs when they are playing at what are supposed to be the friendly confines of Staples Center.

Chris Paul scored 27 points and had nine assists. But he still had to try and contain Golden State’s Steph Curry, who started out by shooting 1 of 4 before getting hot and finishing 8 of 15 for 27 points of his own. Afterward, Paul said there were three instances where he was in Curry’s chest, yet Curry still made his shot. Tonight (Wednesday), Paul will have his hands full with another dynamic guard – Portland’s Damian Lillard. “It’s a point-guard-driven league,” Paul said.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 119-106 victory over the Boston Celtics

J.J. Redick

J.J. Redick/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

– We just can’t say enough about J.J. Redick. He had another terrific game, with 27 points on 11 of 15 shooting - 5 of 6 from 3-point range. Redick is averaging 21.1 points in 15 games this month. He’s shooting 50.9 percent from the field in March, a ridiculous 44.3 from 3-point range.

Blake Griffin has now played eight games since missing the previous 15 with a staph infection in his right elbow. He was outstanding in this one, going for 21 points on 7 of 14 shooting. He made 7 of 9 from the free-throw line, pulled down nine rebounds and doled out four assists. He also had a block and a steal and did not have a turnover. Other than that, he didn’t do a thing. He apparently hit his elbow on the floor in this one, but he told the Orange County Register that although it was a bit sore, he’d be OK.

– There was a down part to this game. The Clippers held a 35-point lead (96-61) with 4:20 left in the third quarter, only to see the Celtics get it all the way down to 11 (111-100) with 4:01 left in the game. When the lead was down to 14 (111-97) with 4:16 left, Doc Rivers had to bring the starters back into the game. Afterward, Rivers said he was not happy with the bench play, which shot a combined 5 of 20 and did not play well on defense.

– As poorly as the bench performed, the starting five was darn good. Besides Redick’s 27 points and Griffin’s 21, Chris Paul had 21 points and 10 assists; Matt Barnes scored 18 and DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 14 rebounds. But to be perfectly clear, everything was not terrific. Barnes was just 4 of 13 from 3-point range and Jordan made just 3 of 15 from the free-throw line.

– We can’t forget the defense. Yes, it slacked off when the Celtics made their belated run. But on the whole, it was very good. The Celtics shot just 41.9 percent from the field, only 25.8 (8 of 31) from beyond the arc. Those are numbers that Rivers would take every time.

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J.J. Redick scores 27 points as Clippers win seventh straight, 119-106 at Boston

J.J. Redick

J.J. Redick/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

J.J. Redick scored 27 points and the Clippers on Sunday won their seventh consecutive game with a 119-106 victory over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Boston. Interestingly, the Clippers held a 35-point lead (96-61) with 4:20 left in the third quarter and the Celtics were able to whittle that gigantic deficit down to 14 (111-97) with 4:16 to play in the game.

The Clippers’ starters came back in and then Boston’s Luigi Datome buried a 3-pointer to bring the Celtics within 11 points at 111-100 with 4:01 left before Matt Barnes made a huge put-back after the second of two missed free throws by DeAndre Jordan, who again fell victim to the hack-a-DJ ploy by making just 3 of 15 from the free-throw line.

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin contributed 21 points apiece with Paul also doling out 10 assists and Griffin grabbing nine rebounds. Barnes had 18 points and seven rebounds and Jordan scored 15 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics (32-41) with 19 points off the bench and Tyler Zeller scored 16.

The Clippers (49-25) now return home to take on the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday at Staples Center. The Warriors have the league’s best record at 60-13.

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