There was joy in Clippers’ locker room after Duke won NCAA Tournament title

J.J. Redick

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

 

Clippers coach Doc Rivers after Tuesday night’s victory over the Lakers was asked to talk about what Duke winning the NCAA men’s title a night earlier might have meant to J.J. Redick, who played at Duke from 2002-06.

“He was happy,” Rivers said. “Him and Austin (Rivers) were obnoxious as ever. But it was good for them. Duke did what they needed to do. Even Ryan Kelly was talking to me during the game. He now has two rings (in his family). His freshman year, and his brother’s a walk-on, which is really cool that coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) did that and gave him a scholarship.

“So the Duke love is pretty strong right now, that’s for sure.”

Austin Rivers played at Duke from 2011-12. Neither he nor Redick won a title while there. Lakers forward Ryan Kelly played at Duke and the Blue Devils won a title while he was a freshman. Sean Kelly, Ryan’s brother, was a senior reserve this season for Duke. Another member of the Clippers, Dahntay Jones, also toiled at Duke, from 2001-03.

Duke won a title in March 2001, but Jones did not begin playing for the Blue Devils until the fall of 2001 for the ’01-’02 campaign.

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.

Five things to take from Clippers’ 106-78 victory over hallway-neighbor Lakers

Chris Paul

Chris Paul doled out 15 assists in Sunday’s victory over the Lakers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

– Perhaps the best part about this victory is that the Clippers did not have a letdown against a very poor Lakers team that now has more losses (56) than any other Lakers’ team in franchise history. The Clippers led this game by as many as 43 points (99-56) by attacking and attacking some more until there was no doubt about the outcome.

– Since this was the Lakers’ home game, that meant it was a road game for the Clippers. With the victory they have now won a franchise-record 25 games away from home. As guard J.J. Redick said afterward about the record, “You have to have mental toughness.” At 25-15 on the road, the Clippers have one more road game April 14 at Phoenix in the regular-season finale.

Chris Paul took only seven shots. But that seemed by design as he was having fun dishing out sweet passes to his teammates, which resulted in him doling out 15 assists. Paul is now averaging a league-high 10.2 assists. John Wall of the Washington Wizards is close behind at 10.0.

– The Clippers once again showed how adept they are from 3-point range by shooting 55.6 percent (15 of 27) from beyond the arc. Matt Barnes and Hedo Turkoglu both shot 4 of 7 from there, Redick was 2 of 2 and Austin Rivers 2 of 3. The Clippers are now shooting a collective 37.9 percent from long distance, third in the league behind Golden State (39.5) and Atlanta (38.6).

– The defense played by the Clippers was noteworthy. They held the Lakers to 38.7 percent shooting. Most importantly, they took rookie hot-shot Jordan Clarkson and threw a blanket over him. Clarkson, who of late has been very good, came in with point totals of 30, 26 and 27 in three of his previous seven games. But he scored just two points Sunday. Clarkson took just six shots, making one, because he had difficulty getting open. The game before, Friday against Portland, Clarkson scored 27 points and took 20 shots – making 12.

Can the Clippers compete with Lakers’ legacy?

Los Angeles News Group columnist Mark Heisler wrote about the Clippers and what it takes to compete in L.A. in his Sunday column:

This is the NBA’s greatest fireworks show that’s slipped off the radar. Aside from their Lob City thrills, the Clippers are No. 2 in 3-pointers, making more than No. 4 Golden State with its Splash Brothers, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

No, the Clippers aren’t a wild and crazy bunch like some I could name locally. They’re No. 2 in 3-point accuracy to the Warriors’ No. 3.

As far as the “local rivalry,” goes, as the Lakers say, “What local rivalry?”

What do you think? Is the landscape changing? Has it already changed and the Lakers don’t know it? Read Heisler’s full column here.

Blake Griffin suggests Lakers, called ‘soft’ by coach Byron Scott, need to be honest with themselves

Blake Griffin

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

 

Doc Rivers referred to his team as being soft after they were routed 121-104 Nov. 5 at Golden State. It was perhaps the most angry Rivers has been since he arrived to coach the Clippers in 2013-14.

Lakers coach Byron Scott said his team was soft several times after the Clippers walloped the Lakers 114-89 on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin on Friday morning at practice was asked to talk about what Scott said as it related to what Rivers said about him and his teammates two months ago.

“I think it’s one of those things, you have to be honest with yourself,” Griffin said. “When Doc said that about us, it was 100 percent true. You can’t hear those words and then go think to yourself, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ You have to be honest with yourself. I think we all kind of looked at ourselves and looked at how we played and  we were like, ‘Yeah, we were, and we need to change that.’ It’s on the players, on the leaders of the team.”