Sugene Lee

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

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.

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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.

“Game 8” against the Memphis Grizzlies

In Uncategorized on November 3, 2012 at 10:37 pm

The Los Angeles Clippers’ opening night against the Memphis Grizzlies all made sense after coming off a Game 7 win in the first round of the 2012 Playoffs. With a historical comeback in Game 1, the Clippers were able to take away the series with a road win in Game 7.

The Grizzlies had a bitter taste in their mouth that they wanted to wash away by breaking their 11 game winless streak on opening nights. They came prepared and hit first, but it wasn’t too long they would realize they needed more than just their starters to play well. The biggest difference in the game was perhaps the Clippers bench who outscored the Grizzlies by 49-17, 29 of which coming from Jamal Crawford on only 14 field goal attempts.

It wasn’t a lack of effort from the Grizzlies as they out rebounded the Clippers by 5, with 17 being offensive rebounds. They had one less turnover, shot better from the charity stripe, and had 12 more field goal attempts. The problem? A hyper-efficient Clipper team who shot 51.4% and a duo of Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe who were a combined 15-22 that added to 42 points. Lionel Hollins simply stated, “We had no answer for him (Jamal Crawford).” The Clippers’ bench continues to maintain and even extend the lead. They were considered as a deep bench on paper, even without injured players Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups, but now they’re proving it on the court.

Although it was a regular season game, it was still a physical battle, especially for Blake Griffin. He only scored 11 points on 10 attempts and grabbed 7 rebounds against Zach Randolph who continued to get under Griffn’s skin. Both received a technical after continuous encounters, including Randolph’s takedown of Griffin.

No Clipper played for more than 35 minutes, which only proves the depth of this team. Perhaps to the point where distributing minutes may be a cause for concern?

With only one game into the season, the future of this team is still in progress, but one thing that can be confirmed is the chemistry of this team. And chemistry only comes with a team that trusts and enjoys one another’s company.