It’s quite known that the Los Angeles Clippers are struggling in improving their problematic defense , but they’ve found a way to make up for that by simply scoring at a pace almost no one can keep up with at the moment, especially with Jamal Crawford playing some of his best basketball.
Crawford is only in the starting lineup because of J.J. Redick’s injury, but it isn’t stopping him from making the most of the opportunity, once again leading the Clippers in scoring as they beat the New Orleans Pelicans 123-110. Crawford had a team high 24 points, followed by six more players in double figures: Blake Griffin scoring 22, Chris Paul with 19, DeAndre Jordan with 14, Matt Barnes, Darren Collison and Hedo Turkoglu with 12.
Crawford hit seven 3-pointers in the game and is averaging 19.1 points this season. His recent form is even more impressive, averaging 25.2 points in February, including at least 21 points in each of his last eight games.
We understand what we do well. If we all do what we do well, we’ll make our team stronger. My teammates did a good job finding me, Coach was drawing up great plays and I got the easy part, just knocking down the shots. It’s been great and it’s just our ball movement. We’re getting great looks and at times where playing at the right tempo, but we got to figure out how to keep putting it together.
Doc Rivers has been talking all season about trying to drift away from the Lob City persona, but it’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of playing quick basketball, regardless of how it makes their defense look at times. The question is if they’ll be able to be just as good when things slow down a bit and have to focus on scoring through half court sets and not simply enjoying their advantages when the game is in fast forward.
One of the interesting things in that equation is the ability of Blake Griffin to make defenses take him seriously as a jump shooter. He’s always been able to throw down lobs to DeAndre Jordan for Alley Oop finishes, but more and more of them are coming by Griffin attracting a double team as he pulls up for a mid-range jumper, freeing up Jordan who doesn’t do much but attack the basket off pick & rolls or whenever the lane open up for him.
With this kind of ball movement, it might work. Chris Paul had 13 assists and the Clippers finished with an astonishing 34 assists on their 43 field goals, making 51.8% of their shots and an even better 57.1% of their 3-point attempts, and Paul had his 22nd game with at least 10 assists and 0 turnovers. That’s the most among active players and he’s trailing only Jason Kidd (27) over the last 20 years.
The Pelicans? It’s once again about waiting for next season. Anthony Davis is putting up great numbers (26 points and 11 rebounds) but that’s about the only thing to be impressed about. Too many injuries to key players (Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson) have made this into another season that had moments of fun basketball, but that’s about it.