Well…that was embarrassing.
Last night in Brooklyn, the Los Angeles Clippers played the sixth game of their season high seven-game road trip. After starting the road trip with a 3-2 record, the Clippers seemed to have a chance to guarantee themselves of going at least above .500. Unfortunately, the basketball gods in Brooklyn had an entirely different narrative in mind tonight. Early on in the first quarter (very early in the first quarter), it appeared the Clippers were determined to run away with the game. They looked poised, engaged, and clicking on all cylinders while hitting shots from all angles of the floor. They had made three of their first four from beyond the arc and with 3:28 to go in the first quarter, they were in control of a 13-point lead.
And then it happened.
The bench came in and the offense went straight to, well, you know what. From that point on, the Clippers could only muster 21 points the rest of the half. The second half was an even bigger embarrassment for the Clippers as the Nets held them to a measly 18 points in the 3rd quarter after the Clippers only found the bottom of the net a grand total of three times in the period. Scoring was a chore tonight and the Clippers had zero interest in doing chores. Instead, the Nets did the dirty work and succeeded where the Clippers failed. The Clippers defense bordered on comical and nonexistent throughout the last three quarters.
There were a few things the Clippers couldn’t overcome. Namely, missed free throws. They missed 17 of their 51 attempts from the line. In what turned out to be a nine-point game, missed free throws proved to be somewhat costly. It wasn’t a nine-point game, in all reality, since the bench of the Clippers played the fourth quarter and scored some meaningless baskets at the end of the game, including a layup by Jamal Crawford at the buzzer, to make the final score look more respectable than it really was. Another thing they couldn’t overcome was their lack of shooting from deep. After starting off by hitting three of their first four threes, they only made three of their final 20 attempts from beyond the arc. One of them was a heave by Chris Paul to beat the shot clock buzzer early in the third quarter. It cut the Nets lead down to nine. The Clippers never got the game back within single digits until Crawford’s layup at the buzzer.
No matter how badly the Clippers offense performed during this game, had their defense been at least semi-existent, they would have walked away with the game like they were supposed to. Chris Paul looked like the only one who had the desire to play basketball let alone compete, despite the fact that he recorded his lowest assist total of the season (two). The Nets were, at one point, leading by 21 points, which is unheard of in Brooklyn this season. At the end of the day, a loss like this is unacceptable for a Clippers team that has hopes to reach the Finals, or at the very least go deep in the playoffs. It wasn’t the loss that was bad (well it kind of was) but it was their effort, or lack of effort I should say, on both the offensive and defense ends. That just cannot happen. If the Clippers wish to be one of the league’s elite, they must be held to elite standards.
The Clippers have an off day tomorrow and then finish up the trip in Washington on Saturday. They’ll need a win to close out this seven-game road trip with a winning record. For the Clippers’ sake, I hope they can forget this loss and move on to bigger and better things.