Lobs, dunks and Alley-oops mean that the Los Angeles Clippers are rollin’, and despite falling a little bit behind the top two in the Western Conference, Chris Paul isn’t going to let his team slip too far down the charts of the playoff seeding, making life easy and fun for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
You want to be playing not just for the seeding, but to be ready going into the playoffs. It’s the time when everybody’s intensity needs to be turned up, and we need to be dialed in for every single game, no matter who we’re playing.
Beating the New York Knicks these days isn’t the hardest task in the world – they’re playing without Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, three of the Knicks top four scorers inside the paint this season. Without them, the Knicks didn’t only lose 93-80 as it looked the Clippers could have won by much more – they simply struggled getting points on every possession.
The Knicks made just as many shots in the paint down double-digits in the fourth (5) as they did the first three quarters combined against the Clippers. They made only 30.9% of their 2-point field goal attempts, the lowest rate of the season for the Knicks on 2-pointerss and the sixth-lowest across the NBA.
We’re all professionals, and sometimes you’re going to play short-handed, so you’ve got to compete. In that third quarter, we just lost control of the game. We’re going out there trying to win, so we’re not sacrificing anything. The biggest concern is just our health. We’ve got to get healthy first and go from there. But there’s no guarantee those guys are going to come back, so we’ve got to play with the guys we have.
The Knicks have lost four in a row, and while some of the Clippers players mentioned they would have liked to face tougher competitions, as it would have made for better playoff preparation, they certainly didn’t mind it by the way they played. Chris Paul led the scoring with 20 points and 8 assists and Vinny Del Negro kept the rotation short, at just nine players.
While Blake Griffin didn’t have a problem dominating the paint and the air, combining for 22 rebounds and 4 blocks, they were both terrible from the line, going a combined 0-9, in one of the main reasons they won by “only” 13 points.
It’s not tough to stay focused, because we haven’t been playing the style that we want to play. We can get better, so it’s important for us to focus on these last 15 games.
It’s about staying hungry, and finding goals. The Clippers are going to win the division title for the first time in franchise history, and are four wins away from surpassing the single-season franchise record of 49 victories, and five home wins shy of setting that mark as well. That isn’t as important as making these playoffs better than they were last season (conference semifinal), meaning that it has to be about more than Paul leading as usual.
It’s going to take the elder-statesmen pushing their bodies to the limit (Billups and Hill), while Griffin and Jordan, who have made strides in their abilities this season, must become consistent and complete in more than just their dunking.