Los Angeles Clippers: Clippers Fall To Lakers In Season Opener

On a day that was supposed to be the new beginning and an era of winning and championship runs for the Los Angeles Clippers, the Clippers looked all but dominant in a 115-103 defeat at the hands of their crosstown rival, the Los Angeles Lakers. Blake Griffin led the team with 19 points and seven rebounds on 8-of-15 shooting. DeAndre Jordan also pitched in with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds on 8-of-10 shooting. The team’s leader and floor general, Chris Paul, also had a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists. Guards J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford both scored in double figures with 13 and 15 points, respectively. As the game was close throughout, the Lakers bench scored the last 48 as the unit consisting of Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill played the remaining half of the third quarter and the entire fourth quarter to lead the Lakers to victory.

Clippers

Starters Field Goals Assists Rebounds Points
Blake Griffin 8-15 3 7 19
DeAndre Jordan 8-10 1 11 17
Chris Paul 5-13 11 6 15
J.J. Redick 5-12 3 2 13
Jared Dudley 2-6 2 3 5
Bench
Matt Barnes 3-6 3 6 8
Ryan Hollins 0-2 0 1 0
Darren Collison 4-5 1 1 9
Jamal Crawford 5-13 3 3 15
Reggie Bullock 1-1 0 0 2
Antawn Jamison DNP
Byron Mullins DNP
Totals:  49.4% 27 40 103

Lakers

Starters Field Goals Assists Rebounds Points
Pau Gasol 
5-12 4 13 15
Shawne Williams 1-5 0 3 3
Steve Nash 1-3 5 1 3
Steve Blake 2-3 1 2 6
Nick Young 3-10 0 1 13
Bench 
Chris Kaman 5-10 0 8 10
Jordan Hill 6-8 2 8 12
Jordan Farmar 6-10 6 4 16
Jodie Meeks 4-8 2 3 13
Xavier Henry 8-13 2 6 22
Wesley Johnson 1-11 1 3 3
Ryan Kelly DNP
Robert Sacre DNP
Kobe Bryant DNP
Totals: 45.2% 23 52 116

The Good

The Clippers got an exceptional performance from DeAndre Jordan during this game. Along with his 17 points and 11 rebounds, he ran the floor extremely well during fast breaks, which allowed point guards Chris Paul and Darren Collison opportunities at easy buckets, which Jordan finished with authority. Chris Paul was his usual best-point-guard-in-the-league self, posting 15 points and 11 assists. J.J. Redick certainly came to play during this game as he provided a spark early in the game knocking down his first 3-pointer and a few subsequent jumpers after. If the Clippers can get 13 to 17 points from him every night, that would only add to their incredible amount of offensive power they possess. The team also got a solid performance from backup point guard Darren Collison, who went 4-for-5 from the field and scored nine points. In addition, he was able to get out in the open court and showcase his incredible speed. As a young player he will benefit greatly from the mentorship of Chris Paul and should be a very valuable asset to the Clippers.

The Bad

Blake Griffin looked a bit lost on both ends of the floor during this game. On the offensive side of the ball, he has failed to show any drastic improvement on his post game that would make him any more of a threat than the Blake Griffin of last year. Sure, Griffin is one, if not the, most athletically gifted players in the league, but if he cannot expand his offensive prowess past highlight dunks and put-back layups, he will become very easy to defend as teams will force him to shoot outside shots. No disrespect to Lakers forward Shawne Williams, but Blake Griffin should have had his way with him and easily been close to a 20-point, 20-rebound night.

It does not appear Clippers forward, Blake Griffin has done much to improve his post game. (Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr.com)

It does not appear Clippers forward Blake Griffin has done much to improve his post game. (Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr.com)

Where was Matt Barnes in the fourth quarter? As the team’s best defender, it would be my thinking that he would be put on Xavier Henry (who must have channeled the spirit of Gail Goodrich because he’s never even sniffed 22 points in a game). Henry flat-out destroyed the Clippers in the last two quarters and was one of the main reasons the Lakers prevailed.

In the NBA, losing the rebound battle in a game usually means that your team comes out on the short end. Well, wouldn’t you know it–the Clippers were out-rebounded 52-40. Blake Griffin cannot get seven rebounds a game, he simply cannot. The Clippers rely on his athleticism to score AND to play defense and get rebounds. Griffin must be more aggressive on the boards if he wants the team to have any type of success.  With DeAndre Jordan and Griffin manning the frontcourt, the Clippers should rarely lose the rebounding battle to any team.

The Ugly

Where was the defense? What the Clippers did on the opposite end of the floor cannot be considered defense. The Clippers allowed the Lakers bench to score 76 points and the last 48 points of the game. That is simply unacceptable. It seemed as if the red sea parted when the Lakers guards entered the lane. Xavier Henry, Jordan Farmar and Jodie Meeks easily drove through the lane on multiple occasions. When this happened and Clippers defenders failed to switch assignments, a foul was usually committed resulting in either two free throws or an and-one. How the Lakers managed to score 116 points without Kobe Bryant is simply beyond me and I can only point to the Clippers lack of defensive effort as a reason. Any time you allow 116 points to any team, the defensive effort must be in question.

Although the Clippers possess many offensive weapons, they seemed a bit out of sink at times on offense. Now, because they have a new head coach and its the first game of the season, we can attribute that to the team either not being comfortable with Doc Rivers‘ new system or not fully knowledgeable. Either way, given time and repetition, the team should get that in working order; tonight, however, the offense was not in sync and was just plain ugly. Chris Paul did a deficient job of running Doc’s new offense while the Clippers still struggled to score in their half-court set. This has to improve and be performed with consistency if they hope to have a successful season.

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