Sugene Lee

Back on track

In NBA: LA Clippers on January 9, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Following a 17-game winning streak, going undefeated in the month of December, the Los Angeles Clippers dropped two straight against the Denver Nuggets and the Golden State Warriors on the road.

Dropping two games to start the new year was disappointing, but not devastating– especially for the Clippers. Dan Woike, reporter for Orange County Register, tweeted out that the music was still being played and jokes were still being made following a loss against the Nuggets. Hoping to bounce back the following night in Oakland, the Clippers fell again in a blow-out loss to the Warriors. However, that’s the game that brought the Clippers back two nights later.

“Battle of L.A” brought about just as much hype as it did the past year despite the losing record of the Los Angeles Lakers. Clippers were without Sixth-Man-of-the-Year candidate, Jamal Crawford (sore left foot), and starter, Caron Butler (personal reasons). After being blown out two nights in a row, “Battle of L.A.” was a game up for grabs, and the Clippers grabbed. Kobe almost saved the day in the 4th quarter, but Chris Paul came through with a dagger over Kobe and closed it out by scoring the last 8 points.

The following night, the Clippers detonated the Warriors in a revenge game after the Warriors’ bench mocked a Blake Griffin 3-pointer that hit the side of the backboard and Warriors’ coach Mark Jackson called Blake Griffin an “actor” following a hard fall from an arm-grabbing foul while going for a dunk. Chris Paul showed why he was the MVP after scoring 27 points (10-12 fg, 5-6 3-pt) and dishing out nine assists in just 28 minutes.

The Clippers remember each loss, but the loss against the Warriors early in November stayed in their minds after the Warriors celebrated, as Chris Paul and Matt Barnes described, like they won the NBA Finals. They understand that a target is on their backs and they know every team wants to beat the team with the best record in the NBA.

Being the team who has a bench deep enough to rest its starters in 4th quarters and a team chemistry that can’t be hidden on the court, bench, or the locker room are things struggling teams wish they had. Of course, winning creates more chemistry, but the Clippers stick together whether they win or lose.

After having three days of rest, the Clippers will take on the Dallas Mavericks, who now has Dirk Nowitzki, at home as they try to add another win to an ongoing home-winning streak to 13.

First real test of the season

In NBA: LA Clippers on November 20, 2012 at 12:26 am

The Los Angeles Clippers finally “showed up” to their last 5 games. Two losses against sub-par teams was all it took to get their heads back in the game. Soon after, the Clippers blew by the Spurs, Trailblazers, Hawks, Miami, and the Bulls. Given that they were all at home, minus the back to back game at the Rose Garden following the Spurs game, it was no small task to beat and even blow them out. But that’s exactly what the Clippers did.

For the Clippers whose offensive efficiency is ranked 4th, at 106.8 points, and defensive efficiency is ranked 2nd, at 96.4 points, the two most important factors for the last 5 wins were their defense and an unstoppable bench. In those last 5 games, the Clipper bench has outscored their opponent’s bench 213-164. All this with Chauncey Billups, Grant Hill and Trey Thompkins sitting out. This comes from Jamal Crawford who’s constantly on heat check, Eric Bledsoe who wreaks havoc on all cylinders, Matt Barnes who runs and defends passing lanes, and the hard-working players of Ryan Hollins, Ronny Turiaf and a little bit of a weight-losing Lamar Odom.

“Our defense leads to our offense,” was a trendy-saying last season and it has always proven to be true– especially this season. A huge improvement has been shown in their front-court with DeAndre Jordan, and yes, Blake Griffin; he is far from being the best big-man defender, but has shown visible improvement throughout the first 9 games of the season.

Credit is given where credit is due as the Clippers climbed up in the Power Rankings that ranged from 1st to 3rd place (NBAESPNHoopsWorld). However, the real test starts tonight– on the road. In the next six nights, they will be on the road playing the Spurs (8-2), Oklahoma City (8-3), Brooklyn (6-2), and Atlanta (4-4) the following night.

Playing against the Spurs tonight will set the tone for this 4-game road trip. San Antonio will be seeking for revenge after being chased out of Staples Center on November 7. Spurs’ starter, Kawhi Leonard, will be out tonight, but that should not take away any pressure off the Clippers as they go against another team with great depth. OKC, although without their 6th Man-of-the-Year, will still prove to be another test and may be a good match-up as the Clippers won last year’s series 3-1.

Predictions: I would love to see the Clippers go 4-0 on this trip, but being realistic, I really do believe that they will be able to go 3-1. Not sure which team they will lose to, but it won’t be an easy flight. Some say going 2-2 will be satisfactory, but I expect a 3-1. But, that’s me. I expect them to win every game.

Showing Up

In NBA: LA Clippers on November 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm

The Los Angeles Clippers were able to get a win against the struggling Lakers, but it didn’t mean a whole lot when they failed against a depleted Golden State Warriors team and the inferior Cleveland Cavaliers.

This doesn’t say a lot about the Warriors or the Cavaliers, but says more about the Clippers. Credit can’t be taken away from those two teams, but the Clippers know they “play to the level of [their] competition,” as Bledsoe said in Tuesday’s practice. Following the first loss against Golden State, the Clippers’ post-game interviews consisted of coming out strong right out of the gate, not playing chase in the second half, etc. However, when all is said and done, none of it matters unless they really do what they say, and so far, they haven’t shown it. Clippers came out strong for several minutes of the first quarter against the Cavaliers, but soon became too complacent and Cleveland shot lights out.

As a team proposed to be “elite,” it may be a bit difficult to be excited about teams not bound to make the playoffs. But, being great on paper means nothing if they don’t come out and show it and they are all aware of that. Given that Blake Griffin is playing through a swollen elbow and stiff neck, he may be the only one with an excuse of not showing up.

As odd as it may be, the Clippers have a target on their backs and no team is going to back down against “Lob City.”

Tonight, the Clippers are playing against a team with a perfect 4-0 record and a team who swept them in last year’s playoffs: San Antonio Spurs.  This is another game Los Angeles is bound to be pumped up for. The Spurs made a fool out of the Clippers. If the Clippers claim to “play to the level of [their] competition,” they have no choice but to play up.

My prediction: I believe that the Clippers will actually take this win and give the Spurs their first loss. Energy and adrenaline will be high and when that happens to the Clippers, results are positive. However, hitting the glass and reducing turnovers are a must.