For now, the only winning record in the city of Los Angeles is owned by the Clippers, while the Lakers are off to a 0-2 start. That’s what you get early on when you don’t tinker too much with your team, especially in the starting lineup, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin having quiet nights, led by Jamal Crawford leading off the bench.
Crawford might be one of the best under-the-radar signings of the season, being one of the more efficient scorers off the bench to find in the NBA. The Clippers are his fifth team in five seasons, but Crawford delivers points (13.9 last season) and usually low shooting percentages wherever he goes. Maybe he needs the right kind of atmosphere around him, a winning one, unlike what was going on with Portland last season, to get his scoring numbers back at their usual rate. He led the scoring with 29 points (10-14 from the field), which is the most points by a player off the bench in a season-opening game in Clippers franchise history.
How did Chris Paul do? He was mostly happy seeing Crawford take over the game. How many nights are you going to hold Blake to 10 points and me to 12? It’s fun to be a part of this, to have guys come off the bench like Jamal and score effortlessly. Me and Grant Hill have been trying to come up with a nickname for him — not `The Microwave,’ because that doesn’t really stay hot. So we’re trying to come up with something that does.
Everybody knows what’s coming, but you still can’t stop it. I mean, he had 29 and Bled was unbelievable — and those guys are our so-called `backups.’ I want to play every second of the game, but it’s fun to be on the bench and cheer guys on because the way they’re playing is exciting.
Paul finished with 12 points and 12 assists, Griffin with 11 points and 7 rebounds. The Grizzlies, who lost to the Clippers last year in the postseason after a 7 game series, tried to put all their defensive focus and attention on trying to stop the two big stars and keeping DeAndre Jordan, showing great signs of improvement during the offseason, away from the basket. Jordan finished with 9 turnovers to go along with his 12 points and 7 rebounds.
And when you look at records, there wasn’t much of a surprise to the way the Grizzlies lost. Since leaving Vancouver, they’re 0-12 in season openers. You don’t need Jamal Crawford playing the best basketball of his life to beat them when the season just kicks off apparently. The Clippers simply played the hot hand and succeeded, knowing that nights when their two big stars are held to only 22 points aren’t going to come up too often.