Pre-game thoughts: I couldn’t bear to write a recap of Saturday’s Clippers-Spurs game. It was such a frustrating and avoidable loss that I thought it best to just move on. A win tonight against the Warriors would help to assuage the pain from Saturday. Unfortunately, I have a terrible feeling about this game. The last time the Clips played the Warriors, they pulled out a 105-86 victory that was much closer than the final score indicated. The game was close throughout, but Chris Paul ultimately iced the game with a flurry of mid-range jumpers in the last six minutes. In that matchup, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry shot a combined 8-31; I wouldn’t expect a repeat of that performance from Golden State’s high-scoring backcourt duo. After watching Tony Parker absolutely demolish the Clippers off the pick and roll on Saturday, I’m not too optimistic about our chances of containing the Curry/Ellis+David Lee pick and roll. I predict a steady stream of David Lee layups and wide open Dorrell Wright three-pointers tonight. I’m also not sure that the Clips have an answer for the Warriors’ sophomore sensation, Jeremy Lin. Oh, wait…
12:00: We learn that Ekpe Udoh will start in place of Andris Biedrins, who is out with flu-like symptoms. Somehow I don’t think this is a good thing for the Clips. Udoh is probably the only Warrior capable of defending Blake Griffin.
11:55: The Warriors start out with Lee guarding Griffin. I think they’d be better served to cross-match Udoh on Blake and put Lee on DeAndre.
10:53: Chris Paul hits a floater from 15 feet with the shot clock running down. This matches his non-4th-quarter output from the last two games combined.
9:41: Randy Foye gets an easy transition layup after a David Lee jumper. Foye is the quintessential streaky player, so it’s nice to get him an easy early basket. Also, the Warriors’ transition defense is really, really bad. “Their makeup is just not conducive to being able to stop people.” –Mike Smith.
8:11: Stephen Curry flops egregiously, drawing a charge on Chris Paul. This might be the only way the W’s can stop CP3.
7:08: Udoh scores over DeAndre with a nice spin move followed by an up-and-under. This is the extent of Udoh’s offensive repertoire, and he looks like he is about to collapse from exhaustion.
5:51: What is wrong with Steph Curry’s mouthpiece? Is it camo-colored?
5:03: Randy Foye catches a swing pass in the corner, fakes a three, drives to the baseline, and then throws a pass (ostensibly intended for DJ) out of bounds. Foye needs to stop trying to create off the dribble. I’m OK with him launching open threes off kick-outs, but nothing good ever seems to result from Randy Foye penetration.
4:41: Monta Ellis three-ball from the right corner. So far, at least 75% of the Warriors’ baskets have come off broken plays.
2:56: With the shot clock winding down, Chris Paul gets Udoh to bite on a fake, then careens into him while chucking a three. Savvy veteran play; the kind that would drive me insane if I were a Warriors fan. I’m glad CP3 decided to participate in the first quarter tonight. Also, Blake Griffin is 4-4. Mark Jackson might want to either double-team him or switch David Lee onto DeAndre. Not that I’m complaining.
2:56: K-Mart checks in. This feels like a night where K-Mart and Reggie Evans might completely alter the dynamic of the game. I could see the Warriors capitulating in the face of Reggie and Kenyon’s toughness.
0:43: Bledsoe checks in and plays incredible defense on Monta Ellis for 22 seconds, forcing him into two uncalled double-dribbles, and then proceeds to foul Ellis on a three-pointer with two on the shot clock. Bingo. Four point play and a seven-point Warriors lead. This has the feel of one of those nights.
0:00: Chris Paul played the entire first quarter, putting up 11 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. I can’t figure out Vinny Del Negro’s rotations. For the past few games, Paul has taken a seat at around the five-minute mark of the first quarter. Tonight, he goes the full twelve. Maybe Vinny wanted to make a point of establishing Paul early tonight.
11:40: Dominic McGuire shimmies and hits a twenty-footer over K-Mart. Dominic McGuire. Yup, it definitely feels like one of those nights.
10:06: Reggie Evans jumps the passing lane, steals it, and takes it coast to coast for the most awkward transition layup attempt I’ve ever seen. Luckily, he’s fouled on the shot and manages to knock down the first free throw. Mo Williams nullifies the second free throw with a lane violation that he doesn’t even attempt to conceal.
9:00: McGuire shimmies and flings up a twenty-footer over K-Mart from the exact same spot. It barely grazes the front iron. Order is restored.
8:15: Chris Paul nails his second consecutive three, tying the score at 35-35. CP3 is a man possessed tonight: he’s got 17 points and hasn’t missed a field goal. He has also played every second of the game. You think he might be trying to atone for his critical miscue against the Spurs?
7:26: Another three for Chris Paul. “The fans here are in disbelief!” –Mike Smith.
6:42: Randy Foye checks in for CP3. The score is currently 38-35 Clippers. Prediction: Warriors take a 5+ point lead before Paul returns.
6:20: K-Mart airballs a three from the corner. Vinny needs to give him the red light on those jumpers.
4:06: the Clippers play hot potato around the perimeter and ultimately settle for a Randy Foye jumper. Should someone remind Vinny that Blake is 4-7 and being guarded by a white guy who is allergic to defense?
3-something: Blake airballs a free throw. Blake, bending your knees serves no purpose if you pause for a full second after you come back up.
2:49: Mo knocks down another three. The Clips are 7-8 from three this quarter. Fool’s gold?
2:25: Blake knocks down two free throws to “AiiiiirBalll” chants. Shut up, Warriors fans.
1:51: Blake makes a nasty spin move to blow by David Lee and throws down a right-handed jam. Shut up, Warriors fans.
1:16: Blake nails another pair of free throws. Since his free throw struggles appear to be at least partially mental, it’s good to see him bounce back from the airball.
0:37 to 0:00: An infuriating display of ineptitude by the refs costs the Clippers five points. Mark Jackson, coaching genius that he is, decides to go into hack-a-DeAndre mode. Chris Paul senses this, and launches a half-court three as the whistle blows. Swish. The bucket should count, as it was concurrent with the off-ball foul; the correct call would be to count the basket and give DJ one free throw. Instead, the refs merely send DJ to the line, where he makes one of two. On the ensuing Clippers possession, Chris Paul attempts the same maneuver. Only this time, the refs completely miss Dorrell Wright’s intentional shove of DeAndre Jordan. So Chris ends up firing up a 35-footer with twenty on the shot clock, and no foul is called; it is Paul’s first miss of the half. The only redeeming quality of this whole series is that it leads to a hilarious halftime interview in which Paul complains that the refs made him “look like a dummy.” He also says that the second half is going to be a “dog fight.” God I am glad to have this guy on my side.
11:19: Paul picks up right where he left off. 17-footer from straightaway. Ralph and Mike start discussing his MVP candidacy.
7:57: I just realized that Ryan Gomes has not played a second tonight. Hopefully there will be a crucial late-game inbound situation, so we can finally get Gomes some minutes.
5:58: Udoh steps to the line and knocks down one out of two, setting a new career high of 17 points. Udoh, a 38% shooter on the year, is 8-10 from the field tonight. This is not what I had in mind when I mentioned that Udoh scared me.
5:40: Reggie crashes the offensive glass. Swarmed by two defenders, Reggie is unable to make his usual retreat out of the paint, so he up-fakes and then makes a twisting layup. Reggie’s five points must be approaching a career high.
3:15: Tuff Juice is in the building. He knocks down a jumper to stop the bleeding. We might need “Mr. First Quarter” to come up big late tonight.
2:50: Tuff Juice corrals a defensive rebound, and then attempts a 70-foot outlet pass that is intercepted by Nate Robinson.
1:57: DeAndre Jordan is embarrassing himself. He just got caught completely out of position twice, surrendering two offensive boards to Udoh. After Udoh missed a short jump hook on the Warriors’ third attempt of the possession, DeAndre finally secured the rebound…and then tossed it right into the hands of David Lee. That’s two consecutive botched outlet passes by the Clippers. Bad things happen when anyone other than Blake or CP3 touches the ball.
0:19: Monta Ellis is putting on a show. With Mo Williams and Chris Paul draped all over him, he hits a Kobe-style fallaway from 18-feet. 28 points on 10-18 shooting.
11:27: Reggie collects his tenth rebound. In fifteen minutes.
10:57: Reggie’s zealous perimeter defense leads to a steal. I wish this game were at home, so that Reggie could hear the chorus of “Reggie!” chants to which he is entitled.
9:48: CP3 finally takes a seat, after playing the first fourteen minutes of the half. The last time Vinny rode CP3 this hard, it was against the Lakers and CP3 pulled his hammy in the final minutes.
7:33: Another stagnant Clippers possession leads to a Mo Williams three off the dribble over Udoh with two on the shot clock. Live by the three, die by the three. There’s no excuse not to at least begin the possession by dumping it to Blake in the post so he can draw a double-team and make the defense scramble. Call me crazy, but I’m beginning to suspect that maybe Vinny Del Negro is not an outstanding in-game coach.
7:24: Brandon Rush responds with an uncontested and-one (is that even possible?).
7:09: “Instant Mo” with another three-ball. This may be a completely unsustainable style of the play that will doom us to a quick playoff exit…but it sure is fun to watch when it’s clicking.
6:27: As Blake and Monta run side-by-side on a Warriors fast break, Ellis intentionally steps sideways and collides into Blake. Of course, the refs call a foul on Griffin. It’s his fifth. He’ll have to sit for a few minutes, and CP3 will have to take over yet another fourth quarter if the Clips are to pull this out.
4:57: Brandon Rush swishes a three just a fraction of a second after the 24-second buzzer sounds. More interestingly, the camera flashes to Del Negro, who is applying ChapStick on the sidelines. I’m pleased to see that Vinny favors the blue kind. Good man.
3:15: Mo Williams drains a preposterous pull-up jumper from the baseline. He is on fire, with 13 points in the quarter. He’s 6-6 from three-point range, and 2-7 from inside the arc. My head hurts. Clips take the lead, 97-95.
2:05: Rush hits a back-breaking 3-pointer after an Udoh offensive rebound. Udoh is absolutely killing us; he has six offensive rebounds. After DJ’s performance tonight, the Warriors are probably not heartbroken that the Clips matched their offer sheet for DJ. By the way, where is Kenyon Martin? And why is Randy Foye playing over Caron Butler in crunch time? What does Vinny see that I’m missing?
1:23: Monta hits a tough layup in traffic to put the W’s up three. Game is getting out of hand. On the ensuing Clippers possession, Chris Paul makes a typical CP3 move and breaks free for a 16-footer; but McGuire elevates and blocks the shot. The Warriors secure the rebound, and Paul fouls Curry after a near-steal. Curry drains both FTs, putting the Warriors up five, 102-97. Game over.
0:40: Blake Griffin gets trapped on the sideline and throws it away. For some inexplicable reason, Vinny decides not to foul the Warriors. They work the clock down to 19 seconds before Nate Robinson hits a layup. Game officially over.
0:00: The Warriors celebrate like they just won the championship. See you guys in the playoffs, or maybe not.
-Bizarro Chris Paul: Paul had four points on 1-9 shooting in the second half. He didn’t score in the fourth quarter. He was also uncharacteristically loose with the ball, turning it over five times.
-Horrible officiating: it seemed like every close call went the Warriors’ way. This tends to happen in arenas like Oracle and the Rose Garden, where the rabid fans can intimidate the refs.
-Our offensive execution was truly dreadful. There’s no reason to attempt 26 threes against Golden State’s porous defense. We should have pounded the ball into Blake at every opportunity and exposed David Lee. Vinny’s lack of offensive creativity is becoming a problem. When was the last time you saw the Clippers hit a cutter for a layup? Has that happened once this season?
-I hate myself and want to die: well, so much for healing the wounds from the loss to the Spurs. This loss might have been even worse. Wednesday’s matchup against Denver is as close to a must-win as a pre-All-Star break game can be; we can’t afford to take a three-game losing streak into the break.