There’s no such thing as a bad win–but the Clippers’ ugly 109-104 effort against the Houston Rockets was about as close as it gets. Without being too critical of a game that the Clippers ultimately rallied and won, let’s take a peek at our Clippers and Rockets player grades.
Clippers Starter Grades
Reggie Jackson: A-. I’m not sure if an A should be possible for one of the main contributors to such a hideous game (the Clippers’ 11-point third quarter, their worst frame of the season, dings everyone’s grade all on its own), but insofar as the Clippers eeked out a win, Reggie was a huge piece of it. He had 13 fourth quarter points on 4-6 shooting, including back-to-back threes at the 9:20 and 8:55 marks that flipped a 5-point deficit to a 1-point Clipper advantage–and then a third three at 7:57 which put the Clippers back up by 2 again, taking away the Rockets’ final lead of the night.
Paul George: A-. I really waffled between a B+ and A- for Paul here, because his distribution was bad in this game. He’s not a pick-and-roll savant, but he’s gotten the job done this season. But his passes were everywhere tonight, he missed simple reads, and finished with just four assists and a season-high 7 turnovers. That said… he also had a game-high 33 points and worked hard for them, powering through a cold 10-27 night from the field to go 10-10 from the line and lead all Clippers with a massive 14-rebound performance. Factor in his 8 points in the final 3:30 to keep the Rockets at arm’s length, and he gets the A- bump.
Terance Mann: C. In a game where the Clippers needed a bit of a lift, they got an absentee performance from their biggest energy role player, who had just 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 37 minutes. Tasked with guarding John Wall for stretches, Terance played far too deep and let Wall comfortably hit multiple mid-range jumpers and control the game. Overall, a disappointing outing.
Patrick Patterson: C-. C-? But isn’t 12 & 6 good for PatPat? Allow me to be a hater for a moment: his inability to move was the primary culprit for the Clippers’ defensive woes against a terrible Rockets team. And while converting open looks at an acceptable rate is his biggest strength, 12 points on 11 shots while Houston funnelled the ball to him for wide-open threes and layups actually isn’t good. It’s a one-game sample, but the Clippers posted a miserable DRTG of 121.7 with Patterson on the court last night compared to a stellar 80.0 with him off. No other player was above 107.5 or below 92.4.
Ivica Zubac: B-. Zu was a dominant force early in this game, with essentially everything the Clippers created on offense either coming through him either directly scoring or distributing the ball, or the Rockets’ fear of him (watch the film–all 3 of Patrick Patterson’s open 3PA in the first quarter happened because of Zu). But then he picked up a second foul, and while he still made some plays the rest of the way he just was not engaged in the same way as early, unfortunately.
Clippers Bench Player Grades
Nic Batum: A-. Everything that Patrick Patterson wasn’t in this game, Nicolas Batum was. He excelled defensively, he moved the ball, he made a big contribution on the defensive glass against an active, athletic Rockets crew. While the team definitely needed Jackson and George to lead the way with their scoring, Batum’s defense and ball movement were just as important to the overall success in this game. He was the common denominator in the Clippers’ successful lineups, while his absence was the common denominator in their unsuccessful ones (no coincidence that he shared PF minutes with Patterson).
Amir Coffey: A-. We grade on a curve here, so while Coffey was definitely less impactful than Nico in his run, he deserves a lot of credit for positively impacting a game with energy and defense from a two-way contract. After a disappointing outing as a starter in Wednesday, Amir made a nice impact on this game: 10 points while getting to the line 6 times, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and a good bit of energy and pace that LAC lacked.
Luke Kennard: C+. I threw the + on because Luke really did everything you’d want tonight, right down to coming up with a couple of steals on the defensive end in his 19 minutes of action. He was just cold–2-10 from the field and 1-6 from deep on mostly clean looks within the flow of the offense. These are the same looks that got him 28 points on 10-16 shooting and 6-7 from deep on Wednesday, so I’m not sweating this performance too much. If this cold night is the trade-off for his game against Memphis, I’ll gladly take it.
DeMarcus Cousins: A-. It’s clear where Boogie’s strengths and weaknesses lie at this point, and there isn’t much doubt in my mind that Ibaka and Zubac are substantially more deserving of the center minutes in the playoffs. That said, for what Cousins has given the Clippers on a pair of 10-day contracts, I also have little doubt that he is fully deserving of a rest-of-season contract to be the team’s emergency/utility center going forward. For all of his warts at this stage in his career, his blend of overpowering physicality and experience reading NBA defenses provides an interesting wrinkle.
Were the scores a little high for barely stealing a win against the worst team in the NBA? Maybe, but it was still a win–and a win without the likes of Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris, and Serge Ibaka, who are all out with various injuries and rest needs. Jay Scrubb and Yogi Ferrell were the less notable absences, with Ferrell picking up a quad injury this week. Daniel Oturu, as is custom, was the team’s sole unused substitute. This is the way.
213Hoops is an independently owned and operated L.A. Clippers blog by Clippers fans, for Clippers fans. If you enjoy our content, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. Subscriptions start at $1 a month and support from readers like you goes a long way towards helping us keep 213Hoops sustainable, growing, and thriving.