This game was not nearly as one-sided as the final score indicates. I’m somewhat nervous about the lesson that the Clippers might take away from this win. For three quarters, they played listless basketball, letting the more aggressive Wizards hang around and gain confidence. By the middle of the second quarter, the Wiz looked like they believed that they could actually win. This felt like Clips vs. Cavs all over again. Luckily, the Clippers were bailed out in the fourth quarter by hot shooting and truly stupefying Washington shot selection. There will be nights when the Clippers’ lack of early intensity will lead to losses against inferior opponents.
A couple of quick observations from the game tonight:
-The Clippers have incredible chemistry. I can’t remember ever seeing a Clippers team – or any team for that matter – having so much fun on the court. They all seem to be rooting for each other. For instance, when Randy Foye busted out of his slump and hit a game-breaking three to put Clips up by twelve in the fourth quarter, DeAndre Jordan leapt out of his seat on the bench and greeted Foye with a ten-second handshake/dance. He obviously recognized that Foye had been struggling, and was happy to see him make a big shot.
-CP3 is due for a “Hey everyone, here’s a reminder that I’m a top-5 player in the league” night tomorrow against Portland. He had a measly 16 points, 9 assists, and 1 turnover tonight.
-Blake put up great numbers: 23 points and 15 rebounds. But it felt like he could have had a monster night if the Clips had gone to him more often. The Wiz weren’t double-teaming him when he did get it in the post, and they don’t have anyone remotely capable of defending him one-on-one. I also have to point out that Blake’s numbers would have been even more impressive if the refs had given him any respect. He gets hacked on just about every shot attempt. His strength is a curse, because even solid contact doesn’t really alter his momentum, and thus refs don’t notice the pounding that he takes.
-The Wizards are really fun to watch. They are crazy fast, crazy athletic, and crazy. John Wall is almost unstoppable when he decides to penetrate. I’m willing to bet that he’ll be an elite point guard (in the Westbook/Rondo/Parker tier) by 2013. I’m not sure why the Wiz don’t just run a 1-4 Flat with Wall on every play. Their alternative seems to be a twenty-dribble Nick Young/Jordan Crawford possession followed by a deep two, or a 720-degree spin move + airball skyhook by JaVale McGee. These guys have to be the worst decision-making team in the league. It’s unfathomable that they are only the 12th-worst team in the NBA in turnover rate. There were two attempted passes to backdoor cutters that sailed out of bounds, at least three feet outside the reach of the nearest Wizard.
-Caron Butler came up huge again, continuing his habit of bailing the Clippers out of bad possessions. He shot 5-7 from three-point range, bringing his percentage up to 38.5% on the year.
-Brace yourself for an ugly game in Portland tomorrow night. The Clippers obviously will be playing in the second game of a back-to-back. The Blazers will be wrapping up a back-to-back-to-back, and will likely be without LaMarcus Aldridge. And they beat Golden State in a tough road game tonight, so hopefully they’ll be less than fully motivated tomorrow. As I said above, I expect a monster game from CP3, especially considering his poor performance in the last Clippers-Blazers matchup.
-And finally, on an unrelated note, I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but things are looking promising in the Emerald City: Seattle to hold Thursday press conference to announce new arena proposal.