For three-plus quarters, the Clippers did not look like the Golden Child, the team anointed to take over Los Angles, lob city, Western Conference contenders. Their half court offensive execution was unimpressive and Chauncey Billups suddenly had the shot selection of a rookie.
Then Chris Paul took over the game. In the final 6:07 of the game he was 4-of-4 shooting for eight points, plus he had four assists and he was +16.
The Clippers cruised to a 105-86 win that sounds like a much bigger blowout than it really was. But they are 1-0 to start the season.
This game showed how far the Clippers need to go to live up to their potential. In the preseason against the Lakers Blake Griffin was slipping every-other screen he set for Paul, who was attacking aggressively off it. In this game any chemistry they seemed to be building was gone. As a team the Clippers lacked energy on the road (save for DeAndre Jordan, who was blocking shots like an All-Star and finished with eight). Golden State owned the Clippers on the glass for three quarters (Jordan’s eagerness for blocks was part of that) and it nearly cost them.
But in the end they did what top teams do — they can be ugly for 40 minutes, own the last eight because the have the superior talent, and win going away. And make no mistake, CP3 was the superior talent late.
Golden State looked sloppy as well — Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis combined to shoot 8-for-31 on the night. With nine turnovers. Curry’s play made you wonder if his ankle bothered him, Ellis made you wonder where his head is.
Really, the whole game was ugly. Particularly at the end of the third quarter when rookie coach Mark Jackson decided to go with the “hack-a-Jordan” philosophy and keep sending DeAndre to the line. Let us thank the basketball gods that Vinny Del Negro did not counter with the hack-a-Andris Biedrins system. (By the way, Biedrins had a pretty solid game. He’s back, baby! Maybe.) Blake Griffin had 22 points but needed 18 shots to get there, which is still better than Billups 21 points on 19 shots.
It wasn’t pretty. We can thank the lockout for that. But in the end the best player on the court took over the game, which is what happens in the NBA and. It why you pay a steep price to go get a guy like Chris Paul. He’s that good. And he gets you wins with about six minutes of good play.