When Chris Paul is in his highest gear, the Los Angeles Clippers follow, and sometimes might even look like the best team in the NBA. When things go really well, like they did against the Dallas Mavericks, they simply put on an aerial show, highlighting the athletic abilities of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford.
More than they’ve become so much fun to watch over the last couple of seasons, the Clippers seem to be getting the hang of being considered a serious team. A well rounded effort throughout the night; not just in dunking the ball and delivering a crowd pleasing finish, but on defense, and following through on set plays that weren’t really appreciated when this whole process kicked into motion once Blake Griffin finally got started playing and turned the Clippers into a worth-watching franchise.
Like the book says about some teams: A twelve-man deep squad, that when they bring their A game, look like they belong at the top of the league, or among those who are already there. According to Chris Paul, it’s mostly up to the starts of games, and up to his ability to pull his team forward from the first whistle.
Our biggest thing is that we need to get off to good starts and a lot of that has to do with me. A lot of the guys have been telling me that I need to be more aggressive, that I’m letting guys off the hook.
This was the kind of game it seemed the Clippers were made for. The Dallas Mavericks looked like they quit on defense (losing 90-112), or simply couldn’t keep up with the pace. It didn’t matter. In the second quarter, during the 26-8 run by the Clippers that pretty much finished the game, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were soaring through the skies. Shawn Marion said later on it did get kind of embarrassing to be out there unable to get any kind of stops while being dunked upon time after time.
We always talk about the starters being able to sit in the fourth quarter. That’s our goal, to be up enough and not have to play.
Blake Griffin finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Chris Paul finished with 14 points, 13 assists and 5 steals. No one played more than 29 minutes from the starting crew, while the late show belonged to Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe. Crawford scored 20 points, his 9th 20 point game this season, all of them coming off the bench. The Clippers finished with 18 steals, forcing 22 turnovers. They scored 29 points on the fast break, and it looks like we’re having another contender for best open court team in the NBA. It’s mostly been about the Miami Heat in that regard these past two years, but with their defense in some trouble at the moment, the Clippers look to be the new kings of the fast break.
Maybe even more. Somewhere in the mindset of all these players, I think they know they have the right kind of talent to go further than they did last season, especially in games when they run teams off the floor. A lot depends on the ability of Chris Paul to make things happen, but with more pieces being added, the Clippers are in the right direction to be more than just a highlight show or the kings of Los Angeles. Bigger goals and things can be penciled down and achieved, if they stay focused when it counts.