No, I’m not talking about the ABA throwback uniforms…. well, those too. But I meant the game.
Doesn’t matter, the Clippers will take it. In a battle of teams trying to ascend to contender status, the Clippers executed better down the stretch and won 98-91. Nobody with the Thunder watched this game and felt nervous about a potential playoff matchup — nobody was taking a step up the contender ladder Thursday — but after losing to the Lakers because they got out-executed late the night before the Clippers turned the tables on the Grizzlies. That’s something for a growing team.
But really, we know why you were watching this game.
Los Angeles raced out to a quick double-digit lead but when Memphis stepped up the defensive pressure the Clippers turned the ball over (13 times in the first half) and that spurred some easy buckets to fuel a Grizzlies comeback. The game would be close the rest of the way.
Memphis needs those turnovers and runouts to really be efficient. However the Clippers tightened it up in the second half and only committed three turnovers, which slowed the Memphis attack. Marc Gasol had a good game, both scoring (18 points) and as a passer out of the post to cutters. But it wasn’t enough.
In the half court, both of these teams can be hard to watch. The Clippers are simplistic and predictable, but get away with it because Chris Paul is so special in the pick-and-roll — and they have so many athletes around him — that it just works.
Mo Williams had nine points in the fourth quarter, but in a key moment late the Clippers actually went away from the pick-and-roll (all that their offense seems to be for long stretches) and moved the ball from strong to weak, which opened a hole where Caron Butler was able to drive on the shifting Grizzlies defense and get points.
Rudy Gay had a game-high 24 points but he also had six turnovers, including a late strip by Butler and Chris Paul that sealed the game.
Kevin Durant shoots extra while echoing his critics: ‘They called me a coward!’ (video)
When asked after his session about shouting criticisms, Durant explained, “That’s what I say to myself when I’m working. I hear it all the time. You hear the noise. You hear what they say about you. Everybody hears it. So it’s a little extra motivation when you hear it.”
Of the scene, Durant said, “Nobody in this arena right now, and that’s when you get better. Nobody sees you when you’re doing this stuff right here, but luckily y’all was in here watching.”
Depending on your perspective, Durant is:
Maniacally driven to succeed
Feeling the pressure in Golden State
Showboating in front of a camera
I’ll take a little of all three.
Not one 2016 top-10 draft pick started his team’s first game. How does that compare historically?
The top 10 of 2016 NBA draft class isn’t off to a fast start.
In fact, no top-10 pick started his team’s first game after being drafted for just the second time on record. The only other time it happened since 1983, as far back as Basketball-Reference.com records go, was 2013.
No. 11 pick Michael Carter-Williams was the only 2013 draft pick to start his team’s first game in 2013. So, at least the class of 2016 has a leg up on that class, which was led by No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett.
Here’s each first-round pick since 1983 to start his team’s first game since being drafted. Top-10 picks are in blue, and all other first-rounders are in orange.
To some degree, this year’s state of affairs is understandable. Simmons was a lock to start before he got injured. Two playoffs teams – Celtics (who took Jaylen Brown No. 3) and Raptors (who took Jacob Poeltl No. 9) – drafted in the top 10 due to trades.
But the effect is clear. This draft class seems underwhelming.