The Los Angeles Clippers laid an egg in the first stop of a three-game road trip with a 98-90 loss to the Orlando Magic.
Once again, it was their lack of energy over non-playoff team that got the best of them. So far this season they are 2-0 with blowout victories over playoff-bound teams, the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, and are 1-2 against the so-called NBA non-playoff teams, the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic.
Their non-energy led to a weak first half on defense, being outscored 57-42. The Magic were lead by Nikola Vucevic’s 30 points and 21 rebounds. He dominated Blake Griffin inside the entire game. He scored the last eight points of the game for Orlando.
Griffin did have a strong game offensively, scoring 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, and his outside shot looked real good, but his defense is killing the team. Griffin has been slow to guard his position, in turn having his teammates switch to help him, leaving a man with an open shot.
Clippers guard Chris Paul had his fifth straight double-double with 18 points and 10 assists. The second unit only scored 16 points in the game, partly because Matt Barnes did not play due to injury. Willie Green took his place in the rotation.
Coach Doc Rivers needs to play Antawn Jamison with Barnes out, Jamison is much taller than Green and could have brought more leadership and energy to the team. I can’t figure out what River is doing with this rotation right now. Byron Mullens should be playing ahead of Hollins and Jamison ahead of Green.
Rivers also needs to stop looking at the positive side of the defense. If your team can’t play a full game on defense, they will lose more often than not, especially in the playoffs.
Thursday’s game against the Miami Heat is a statement game. The Clippers have one of toughest schedules in the next 25 games, playing 18 playoff-caliber teams. They need to fix their defensive woes and show the league they are truly an elite team.
Points: Blake Griffin: 23
Assists: Chris Paul: 10
Rebounds: DeAndre Jordan: 19
Steals: Two players with 2
Points: Nikola Vucevic: 30
Assists: Jameer Nelson: 8
Rebounds: Nikola Vucevic: 21
Steals: Two players tied with 2
- Chris Paul is still taking it to the rim and shooting the ball
- DeAndre Jordan is a boarding machine, and his defense has been great
- Without the fouling at the end, the Clippers really only allowed 35 points in the second half
- Blake Griffin’s defense. He let Vucevic dominate him in every aspect of the game. At this point Rivers needs to find another solution in for his fourth quarter defensive five
- No go-to guy yet. J.J. Redick, Griffin, Paul all missed shots that could have put Clippers up by 3 or more points with three minutes left
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