Since taking the head coach job of the Los Angeles Clippers, Doc Rivers has been preaching defense, not flash. However, in the 126-115 win over the Golden State Warriors, led by Chris Paul and his 42 points, what most people will remember are the alley oop dunks by Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Is that what the Clippers are really about? All those chances for points on the fast break came from steals. Chris Paul himself had six, as the Clippers finished with 15 steals, forcing 28 turnovers off of the Warriors and scoring 50 points thanks to those mistakes.
Paul had one the biggest games in his career, scoring 42 points, adding 15 assists and the above-mentioned steals. The Warriors shot lights out as you expect them too: 52.6% from the field, 57.1% from beyond the arc, but the passing lanes were hard to take advantage of, as it seemed like every time there was a hand coming from somewhere to intercept the pass. He is the 3rd different player to have a game with at least 40 points and 15 assists in the last 20 seasons, joining LeBron James and Allen Iverson, and the first player with 40 points, 15 assists and 5 steals in a game since steals were first recorded in the 1973-74 season.
The Clippers did give up 115 points, but it’s not like they didn’t play any defense in the game. The gambling and aggressiveness that didn’t work out too well for them in the first game of the season against the Lakers paid off this time. The Warriors are a team that looks for the perimeter plays instead of easy points in the paint, which resulted in too many turnovers as they kept things complicated instead of trying to make the most of the openings left by Blake Griffin as he went out to help more than he should.
Stephen Curry scored 38 points on a fantastic 9-of-14 beyond the arc shooting night. He also had nine assists, but was close to finishing with the negative kind of triple double, turning the ball over 11 times. It’s the first time a player has turned the ball over 11 times or more since Amare Stoudemire had a similar night for the Knicks in 2010. A year earlier was the last time a Warriors player did it, as Monta Ellis turned the ball over 11 times against the Mavs.
The Clippers did get 17 points from Jamal Crawford off the bench, but this night was about Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan flying high. Jordan scored 9 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, but was having a frustrating day, getting hacked near the basket whenever the Warriors had a chance. He was an awful 3-of-12 from the line, and got into a scuffle with Andre Bogut after what he felt was a hard foul.
Blake Griffin? These are the game he was born to play in. Turnovers a’plenty, and many chances for him to enter youtube highlight videos, scoring 23 points on 9-of-12 from the field, adding 10 rebounds as well.
Those three plays started with defense, and that’s what got us going (talking about three consecutive alley oop dunks). That’s a positive thing, and we have to learn from that. We have to know that we can extend a lead and put the game where we need it to be with our defense.