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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.

Blake Griffin asked to grow up too fast

In NBA: LA Clippers on May 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Blake Griffin has now played a full season of 82 games, a shortened season of 66 games, and 8 playoff games. That’s only a total of 156 games in his career. That’s not a whole lot, right?

Yet, people around the league, whether they be opposing players, coaches, columnists, analysts, or fans, are asking Blake to do things it took other players at least 5 years to do (myself included). Blake didn’t come into the league with a full set of skills. He came in with an explosiveness that couldn’t match anyone else’s, ridiculous jumping and dunking ability, and most importantly, a hard work ethic. His work ethic is what essentially got Blake to average 20+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 3+ assists in his career. To make up for his lack of skills, he keeps his motor on at 100% any time his feet are on the court. He has yet to develop a solid post move, is slowly developing a mid-range jumper, and still has a cringe-worthy free throw shot. But how can you criticize a player who’s putting up these kinds of numbers purely on talent?

In the span of being in the league for two years, he has gone from a being on a lovable team who had zero expectations, to a despised team trying to contend for a championship. Of course, this had to be expected with Clippers GM, Neil Olshey, acquiring Chris Paul, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups before the season started. But if you think about it, three of the five starters have never been to the playoffs until this year; one of them being, Blake Griffin. The injuries have plagued the Clippers, which they don’t use as an excuse, but I will. In only his second year, people have gone from loving his highlight worthy dunks, to dismissing and hating them. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because he does his “Blake Face” instead of pounding on his chest like a gorilla. Maybe it’s because of the way he stares at refs for a no-call. Or maybe it’s even because he gets hit in the face and “flops” so that the refs can see it. Okay, he has flopped before, but who hasn’t? He doesn’t do it excessively and I haven’t seen him do it for a while now. But let’s be real. The kid gets beat up during games and gets hated for it. The media has hyped up his “flopping” so much that it’s just a part of him now. It’s in his name. But when’s the last time selling a call after getting hit in the face was a flop? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought flopping was flailing your arms and body with little or no contact (i.e. Manu Ginobili).

As a fan, it’s even frustrating for me to watch him get back on defense because he’s always the last one to get across the court. It’s frustrating to see his averages drop tremendously in the playoffs. It’s frustrating when he can’t box out a Boris Diaw or Tim Duncan. Against Memphis, he might’ve gotten a pass for not being able to out rebound Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol, but they should be out rebounding the Spurs with ease.

So even as a fan who will defend Blake Griffin in whatever situation he’s in, I do get annoyed with the way he plays, even when he’s injured. And maybe it’s because nobody knows the extent of his sprained knee, but I do still have high expectations. And I think I just proved my point by being a hypocrite. We all expect so much out of Blake that we criticize everything he does wrong. We want faster results, but it’s not going to happen because he can only get so much better, so fast. Nobody was expecting the Clippers to get to the finals, especially after Chauncey Billups went down. But deep down, I think we, Clipper fans, still wanted them to somehow, impossibly, get there. At least, that’s how I felt.

“Grit & Grind” Is Not The Answer

In NBA: LA Clippers on May 16, 2012 at 7:19 am

First of all, I give the Clippers a whole lot of props for getting through the first-round. Nearly all ESPN “experts” expected the Clippers to lose in the first round, but they were able to grind out each win and win Game 7 on Memphis’ home court. It was one of the ugliest basketball I’ve seen, but it has to go down as one of the best first round series in the NBA Playoffs.

Then, here’s the problem: San Antonio Spurs. From the start of this lockout season, they’ve become an offensive juggernaut that just can’t be stopped. Once again, they’ve climbed up to take first place, record wise, and completely dominate their opponents. Unfortunately, the Clippers have to be on the bad end of the stick. When playing against a Memphis team that had one of the worst offensive in the league, the Clippers lucked out and got to hide their poor perimeter defense. In Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, it was impossible to cover up their poor defense. Spurs were getting wide open three’s and drained 13-25 from behind the arc. And the Clippers’ poor rebounding continues to make me yell at the television.

The Spurs will not beat themselves, and the Clippers will not be able to grind out games to beat them. The second round will not be nearly as physical as the first round against Memphis, but the Clippers are going to be a heck of a lot smarter than the Spurs to beat them, which likely won’t happen because they have the one and only, Gregg Popovich.

With Chris Paul having an awfully bad shooting night and careless turnovers, Blake Griffin, Randy Foye and Mo Williams offering nothing on the offensive end will kill the Clippers. However, one thing we can take from the playoffs so far is that the Clippers’ bench have shown up. Known as the “Goon Squad,” they have changed the momentum of the game to their favor and have ultimately been the MVP’s of the first round. In Game 1 against the Spurs, Eric Bledsoe was doing it on both ends of the court with an efficient 23 points on 10 of 16 fg’s, 5 rebounds (4 offensive), 4 assists, and 3 steals. Essentially, he was the best Clipper on the court. He is the best on-the-ball and perimeter defender, and the stats don’t do justice to how he impacts the game.

The only way to beat these Spurs is if they can outscore this team. Spurs will score no matter what kind of defense you give them, but if the Clippers are not making shots, they’ll pay for it at the other end.

“Miracle in Memphis” happened, what’s going to happen next?

In NBA: LA Clippers on May 3, 2012 at 12:17 am

I said I had a feeling the Clippers would steal the first game, but there was no way I would’ve thought they would steal the first game coming down from a 27 point deficit.

Most people watching the game probably thought the game was over after the first quarter as it ended with the Grizzlies up 41-26. Memphis was strolling through the first three and a half quarters doing whatever they pleased, shooting over 50% and draining three’s without a hand in their face. The Clippers’ superstars, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, were held to 3 points and 3 turnovers combined in the first half.

With 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Chris Paul entered the game, down 24 points. Then, the chipping away began. Reggie Evans anchored the Clippers defensive intensity and physicality, grabbing 13 rebounds in 20 minutes and shut down big man, Zach Randolph.

Memphis took their feet off the pedal and thought they had game 1 in the books. So did everybody else. Televisions were changed to different channels, people were going to bed, and everyone said the Clippers were going to get swept. Even I, a fan who’s watched nearly all the games this season, asked why there was so much time left at the 8 minute mark of the 4th quarter. I wanted the misery to be over with and watch a great comeback game in game 2 of the series, but that came sooner, a few days sooner. The chipping, defensive stops, and three-pointers came so slowly that nobody else saw it coming until Nick Young made three 3’s in a row, cutting the lead down to three. Then, Blake Griffin made the two most important free throws of his career and were down one. Guess who put the lay-up in to put the Clippers up by one? No, you didn’t guess it. It was Reggie Evans off the pick and roll with Chris Paul. With less than a minute left, Memphis comes down the floor and gets the mismatch with Chris Paul and scores easily. Time out is called. Chris Paul brings the ball into the half-court with Tony Allen on him. Guarding too hard, Allen fouls Chris Paul who then makes another crucial two free throws. Clippers up one, again. With about 26 seconds left, Rudy Gay has the ball in his hands with Kenyon Martin as the defender. At 9 seconds, Martin takes the foul to give and it starts again. Gay takes the pull-up jumper with the clock winding down and hits the front of the rim. Too short. Too late. Blake Griffin grabs the rebound and throws it away to Bledsoe and the buzzer beats at 99-98. The Clippers just made the biggest comeback in playoff history.

You can ask Chris Paul what happened in the 4th quarter and how they came back, but he wouldn’t be able to tell you. What he is able to tell you is if that happened again in game 2, Memphis would either increase the lead to 35 or 40, or the Clippers would come within 8 and call it a good fight. The Clippers may have had the worst start of the season, but Memphis had a first quarter that might never happen again, so they cancel out.

All I can expect from the second game is that it will be a grind out game for a full 48 minutes. But, I can say that I feel like the Clippers will take game 2, too.

Why?

Chris Paul was no Chris Paul in those first three quarters. In fact, he was making rookie mistakes and playing out of control.

Blake Griffin was also not Blake Griffin.

Memphis, one of the worst offensive teams, will not be shooting lights out from behind the arc.

Of course, the Clippers can always cause self-destruction and give this game away, but can anyone expect Chris Paul to let that happen to his team again? I don’t think so.

It’s going to be a good one. I can guarantee that much.

Regular season ends, Playoffs begin

In NBA: LA Clippers on April 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm

The 2011-2012 regular season has been one heck of a roller-coaster ride for the Clippers. March has been a horrendous month as they had 20 games, including their second back-to-back-to-back that they lost. After these three consecutive losses, Vinny DelNegro was on the “hot-seat” with thoughts of him being fired any minute of the day. But, that’s when things started to turn around. Their last five games of March were at home and all ended with W’s and Vinny was safe. Not only did they win their last five in March, but they continued to go on a hot run, beating teams like Dallas, OKC (twice), and Denver. Then there’s that whole roller-coaster ride the Clippers have been on, as they lose their last two games and lose home-court advantage to a Memphis team who had a piece of cake schedule to end their regular season. Not only that, but they have also been taking a lot of criticism, particularly Blake on him flopping, staring, getting away with “offensive fouls,” etc.

Now, maybe I’m talking as a fan right now, but despite the Clippers starting their first game on the road, I have a very good feeling they are going to steal this game away. There are too many doubters saying that Memphis is going to win this series in account with what they had done to the Spurs last year. I’m not saying Memphis is not a good team, I think they are a great grind-it-out, defensive team and have a great chance at winning the series, but with a Chris Paul who goes into a whole different level in the playoffs, it won’t be that easy. Tony Allen, arguably one of the best perimeter defenders in the league will have a hard task of containing the playoff Chris Paul as well. Not only Chris Paul, but with the way Randy Foye has been playing, making the most three’s in the league after the All-Star Break, and Blake Griffin being Blake Griffin, it won’t be an easy series.

What Will Hurt the Clippers

The Clippers aren’t even close to being a perfect team and have a lot to fix. One of the most important things that will hurt the Clippers is going to be their free-throw shooting. With one of the worst free-throw shooting percentage in the league, the playoffs are going to be full of hard fouls and if Blake, who averages close to most free throws in the league, can’t make those, it’s going to hurt him and his team, big time.

Perimeter defense is also going to hurt the Clippers as they go into the playoffs. Luckily, the Grizzlies are one of the worst in 3-point shooting, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt the Clippers as any team can get hot behind the arc. Their size, especially at the three, is no match for an athletic Rudy Gay. He will blow by Caron Butler at will.

Stopping the Grizzlies’ big men, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Blake isn’t the best defender and if Randolph decides to go on a tear, as he did in the last playoffs, this series isn’t going to last very long. DeAndre Jordan will also need to step out and defend Gasol, who can easily shoot the 15 footer and bounce-pass the ball without you even knowing.

Third “go-to” guy. Throughout the season, the Clippers haven’t had a third consistent go-to guy outside of Chris and Blake. Caron Butler was that guy in the beginning of the season and have just been up and down after Chauncey Billups went down, then it was Mo Williams who seems to be fairly consistent, but the problem with Williams is that if he doesn’t provide instant offense, he’s about as useless as Reggie Evans is on the offensive end. As of late, it’s been Randy Foye, who’s been on a tear with his three’s, but the question is, can he, who’s never been in the playoffs, do that consistently?

Experience. No explanation needed.

Is it a lack of effort?

In NBA: LA Clippers on March 7, 2012 at 3:18 am

Typically, after the All-Star Break, teams contending for a title and those who have a chance will turn on “The Switch,” as DJ Foster stated in his article: http://clipperblog.com/2012/03/06/the-switch/

The Lakers, in particular, have been the best at turning on that switch and so far, they’re proving just that. The Clippers on the other hand, have been on a teeter-totter after coming back from the break. For a team with this much talent seems to have run out of gas whether it’s because of Chauncey Billups’ torn achilles, pathetic defense, too much reliance on Chris Paul at the end of games, Caron Butler’s slump, Vinny Del Negro’s horrible coaching, or their tough schedule. Or perhaps it’s a combination of all of these.

But is it time to panic? Probably not, but it’s definitely time to be worried. Not because they’re just losing games, but because they’re losing games they should be winning. The Clippers have already beaten multiple title contenders, so we know exactly what they’re capable of. Others may say, but that’s when they had Chauncey Billups. However, since his season-ending injury, they’ve gotten wins against a great Philadelphia team, Portland (before their downhill slope), gave themselves a chance to win against Dallas, and probably should have beaten the Spurs a few weeks ago.

Since nobody else knows the exact reason as to why this is occurring, as a very emotionally-attached fan, this is my opinion. Effort. Plain and simple. Sure, they can say they’re trying to win games against teams who have no business in making the playoffs, but the way they start is completely different from the way they start against championship contenders. Against teams “lower” than them, the Clippers play down to their level and get beat at it, while teams who are “equal” or higher than them, the Clippers play like their pants are on fire and come out with a ton of energy. As a team, their defense picks up and automatically leads to better offense.

Anyone can blame the tough schedule, as they played 10 of their last 14 games on the road, but the effort seems to be lacking on all sides. Perhaps the only exception is Caron Butler who has probably been the most consistent player on the team, but is now missing wide open shots and went scoreless against Minnesota Monday night. Maybe he lost his confidence? Is it his age? I just have no idea what’s up with him.

There are an endless number of reasons as to why the Clippers have been a .500 team since Billups went down, but to me, they still have the potential to go deep into the playoffs. It’s just a matter of effort.

On a brighter note: The Clippers’ bench seems to be a lot more active on both ends, and have brought their starters back into the game multiple times on this road trip. Bobby Simmons has a great asset to contribute to the bench, Kenyon Martin is hitting jumpers pretty consistently and is an amazing defender, Eric Bledsoe is getting his legs back, and the trade deadline is coming up. Perhaps, we’ll add someone to the likes of, oh I don’t know. Ray Allen? Jamal Crawford?

Edit: Right after I posted this entry, Lakers lost to Detroit. I guess Clippers are back on top of the Pacific Division, but I wouldn’t get too excited too soon.

Clippers fall in Rose Garden 97-105

In NBA: LA Clippers on January 11, 2012 at 7:36 am

The Clippers lose, 97-105, in a physical battle against the Trailblazers, who continues to be unbeaten in their vicious Rose Garden.

Despite finally out-rebounding a team, 39-34, with 13 of the 39 being offensive rebounds, the Clippers weren’t able to dig themselves out of their 2nd quarter deficit.

Portland got off to a hot start with Gerald Wallace, who was scoreless in their New Years match, hitting consecutive jumpers and fouling out of the game with 20 points on 8-12 shooting. The Clippers were struggling to get the ball to go through the hoop, only hitting 33% of their shots. However, they went on a quick run with Mo Williams coming off the bench, making seven points in under four minutes and 14 to finish the game, ending the quarter 26-24.

CP3 got into foul trouble quickly, receiving his third with seven minutes left in the 2nd quarter. He sat out the rest of the half with 0-3 shooting, 1 assist and 3 rebounds. Blake Griffin continued to be double-teamed, but finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, also hitting three consecutive jumpers in the third quarter on Lamarcus Aldridge who had 18 points and 7 rebounds of his own.

Caron Butler, who has been consistent throughout the season, continued to quietly contribute his 20 points and 6 rebounds. Reggie Evans also continues to be a threat on the glass with 7 boards in 16 minutes.

The closest the Clips got to Portland was after Chauncey, who had 19 points, hit a three, making it a two point game, 80-82. However, Portland came right back on a 7-0 run, giving them a nine point lead. Every time the Clips cut the lead, Portland made more shots to keep their lead.

With just a little over 20 seconds left the Clips were down three, 97-100, but missed key free throws, one by Billups which was his first miss of the season, and had a couple key turnovers in the final seconds of the game by Blake Griffin. They were just unable to execute their plays in the final minutes.

The Clips didn’t have a horrendous night, but they let Portland outwork them on both ends. They gave Wallace, Aldridge, and Wesley Matthews too many easy looks, especially in the second half. Portland also got sent to the line 32 times and were able to get 26 points from free throws, while the Clips got 17 of their 24 attempts. Whistles were constantly blown by the refs as both teams became chippy with one another, being very physical.

At times, the Clippers seem to be unorganized on their offense, but they need to figure out to jell quicker as they return home to play Miami on Wednesday night and the Lakers on Saturday night.

What Went Wrong?

It won’t happen very often, but CP3 getting into foul trouble hurt the Clippers badly. Without CP3 on the court for most of the first half, Raymond Felton was able to have a smooth first half. However, when Paul came back, he forced two critical turnovers on Felton in the final minutes of the game. Also, with CP3 on the bench, he wasn’t able to be on the court to make plays for his teammates, which led to the Clips’ sloppy offense.

DeAndre Jordan, who blocked 4 shots, but only had 4 points and 5 rebounds in 32 minutes, seemed to have disappeared. For someone who stands at 6’11 and  has a wingspan of 7’6 should be recording double digits in rebounds. He grabbed 11 rebounds, his only double digit, in their last game against Portland on New Years, but failed to grab more than 8 in any other game this season. His agressiveness seems to have gone down and he doesn’t battle his opponents for rebounds like last season as he averaged 7.2 rebounds in 25 minutes compared to 6.7 rebounds in 31 minutes this season.

Brian Cook went scoreless on 0-3 fg’s and 0-2 from behind the arc in his 4:50 minutes of play, which resulted in a -14 in his +/- rating. He fails to make open shots and only contributes to his reputation of becoming the next Luke Walton for the Clippers. (I honestly think Trey Thompkins would do a better job in replacing Cook who can’t even do his job of hitting some 3’s once in a while).

Lastly, Vinny Del Negro’s inability to draw up good plays in the final minutes of a game. Portland deserved to win (and I’m not taking any credit away from them), but with a better coach with more experience, the Clippers can get to a whole other level, fast.
Jerry Sloan? Stockton & Malone = CP3 & Griffin?

Next Game: vs. Miami, Wednesday 1/11/12

Third straight win vs. Bucks

In NBA: LA Clippers on January 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm

A game that should’ve been an easy victory for the Clips became harder than expected in their 92-86 win against the Bucks.

The Bucks didn’t have their starting center, Andrew Bogut, due to personal reasons, along with three reserves and Brockman who left in the first half with an eye contusion.

The first quarter started off with a 8-1 lead for the Clips, until the Bucks went on a 10-3 run. During the second quarter, the Clips were unable to get a point for four straight minutes until Billups, shooting 100%, drew a foul and made two in a row. After another 2 1/2 minutes, they were finally able to get a shot from Caron Butler, who had 20 points and six rebounds of his own. Reggie Evans, who came in for the first time was able to get his first three rebounds within a minute. He’s proven himself to be a rebounding machine and a defensive energizer, but his free throw shooting was horrendous, going one of six from the line. The Clips were being outworked by the Bucks, but both teams shot horribly in the first half, ending in a Bucks lead of 40-38.

Third quarter starts have been the game-changer for the Clippers this year. Caron Butler quietly lead the team by making 13 of his 20 points in the third. The momentum completely shifted over to the Clips after Blake’s three consecutive highlight plays, all assists from CP3, and two of them being thunderous dunks. The Clips had 34 points in the third quarter alone, while Blake finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots.

The Bucks trailed the rest of the way, but were still able to remain within reach with Brandon Jennings 21 points, six rebounds, and seven assists.

Chris Paul contributed with 9 points, 7 assists, and 4 steals, but also had 4 turnovers. His presence continues to be effective despite his low-scoring games. Chauncey quietly added 19 points of his own making all seven of his free throws. Mo Williams, another energizing reserve, came off the bench and added 10 points in 21 minutes and an amazing blocked shot on Brandon Jenning’s three point attempt. DJ, who had a quiet night due to foul trouble, finished with 3 points from the line, missing his other 3, five rebounds and three blocked shots.

Problems

Rebounding continues to be a problem for the Clippers who was out-rebounded for the fifth game in a row, only grabbing 37 against Bucks’ 42. The effort was a lot better tonight with Blake grabbing 14 rebounds of his own, but the Clips should be able to box out most teams and out rebound them.

Free throws have also been another problem for starters, Blake and DJ, who get sent to the line more than most of their other starters. Evans, who got sent to the line six times, only made one. The team only made 65% of their free throws, 26 of 40, when making those shots alone could’ve blown the Bucks away. The Clips only shot 45% of their field goals, but, luckily, they were able to hold the Bucks to a field goal percentage of 36.

Turnover rates for the Clippers continue to be inconsistent, with 14 against the Bucks. With only seven against the Rockets a few nights ago, the Clips finished the half with eight turnovers.

If the Clippers are able to out-rebound their opponents, which they should be able to, make their free throws, and turn the ball over less, they can be a very dangerous team.

Next game: Tuesday, 1/10, vs. Portland