Most LA fans were overjoyed to see the Clippers destroy the Pelicans 126-103 Saturday afternoon. But me? I was worried.

While some of you are celebrating the Clippers’ first seeding game win, I will be anxiously waiting to hear how severe their punishment will be.  A fine?  Maybe.  Suspension?  That’s probably the minimum.  Even a full on expulsion from the bubble wouldn’t be surprising. Disney is very strict on their prohibited items, so I can only imagine how upset they are with the Clippers for bringing a flamethrower into the bubble… or at least that’s what it seemed like all game.

Game Recap

The Clippers came out of the gates firing, splashing 6/6 threes and scoring 20 points in the first 4 minutes of the game.  Paul George led the way nailing three quick 3s, and the team looked much sharper than they did to start off their last game against the Lakers.  The Pelicans, who started off their last game hot, did not look great.  They came out with lackadaisical defense, terrible shots, and passes straight into the weird, digital crowd.  Maybe they were bothered by the Clippers’ defense, or maybe they were just making sure that the basketball could social distance from the players and the hoop. Either way, they looked like an absolute mess out there, fell behind early, and never even came close to looking good, let alone winning the game.

Unlike their sad, avian counterparts, the Clippers had just about everyone contributing on both ends  Even Morris and Shamet, who were painfully invisible against the Lakers, knocked down a handful of shots in rhythm while putting in solid defense. Before we dive into the offense, which was certainly the highlight of the first half (and the entire game), the team’s defensive effort should not be overlooked.  The Clippers were incredibly active playing the passing lanes well, chasing down loose balls, and fighting for rebounds.  This all resulted in 24 points off of turnovers in the first half, in addition to a very, very dispirited Pelicans team.

On the offensive end, there really isn’t much to say except “WOW”.  The Clippers set a franchise record for first-half threes made with 16 (they were 1 off tying the all time record with 17, but apparently getting easy layups made more sense), and they really could do no wrong.  They were in the zone to say the least, and they ended the half up 77-46.  (In case anyone was wondering, yes, the Clippers did outscore the Pelicans in the 1st half just on three pointers alone.)

The second half really wasn’t much different for the most part.  The first and second unit continued to look phenomenal, especially Paul George who finished with 28 points on 8/11 three pointers and helped the Clippers destroy the Pelicans 126-103.  The third quarter was a continuation of the beatdown of the first half, with the Pelicans looking completely frustrated and outmatched against the Clippers, who built up a 37 point lead by the end of the quarter.

The games final 12 minutes were nothing but garbage time with the Clippers emptying their bench and just going through the motions.  The only real achievement to finish the game was a Terrance Mann three which got the Clippers a new franchise record of 25 three pointers in a game, and capped off a dominating 126-103 win. With a win tonight and a Nuggets loss, the Clippers gain slightly more breathing room in their fight to keep the 2nd seed.

Notes:

  • The PeliCANTs: It can be hard to find legitimate takeaways from a game when either team is shooting absolutely lights out.  We knew the Clippers were good going into this game, and this changed nothing except for a couple of records.  The Pelicans, on the other hand, looked really, really bad.  Looking bad isn’t necessarily the problem—even great teams have off nights.  The bigger problem was that the Pelicans very clearly gave up in the 2nd quarter.  Even for a team as great as LA, it wouldn’t be possible for the Clippers to destroy the Pelicans 126-103, leading by as much as 42, if New Orleans didn’t quit in the first half. For a team that is fighting for a playoff spot in a short 8 game seeding round, that is inexcusable, and it falls on the shoulders of their leaders who were all no shows.
  • Paul George: I mentioned him a couple of times in the recap, but wow, he has looked fantastic in both games so far. His defense has been great, and his offense is just smooth. If he can keep this up, the Clippers are looking very, very dangerous. George became legitimately underrated this season, and he’s proving himself (again) in the bubble.
  • Points aren’t everything: While the team was obviously shooting lights out, it’s also good to see players contributing in other ways. Reggie Jackson grabbed 8 boards in addition to his 15 points, Zubac finished with 9 boards, 3 assists, and 2 steals, and Kawhi finished with a very balanced 24 points, 6 boards, and 5 assists. On top of that, Kawhi actually set a single season career best number of assists!
  • Montrezl Harrell:  As a quick aside—the Clippers were still without Lou and Trez tonight.  While Lou will be returning from his wing-related quarantine next game, Trez unfortunately lost his grandmother yesterday.  Family always does come first, and we have nothing but hope and love for the big man.

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15 Comments

  • Avatar DieterDeux says:

    That was a serious beat down. Made me feel bad for JJ

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    Originally I was hoping for New Orleans to sneak into the 8 spot because I thought they could give the Lakers issues, but they choked away their first game, and then looked abjectly horrible today against the Clips….so I think I’ll be rooting for Portland instead. This game was amazing to watch and I actually enjoyed all of Sieman’s Coffey and Mann puns at the end of the game (mostly because we were up by 30 points, but still).

    • Avatar Niels Pineda says:

      Portland is probably their matchup because they have no answer for CJ/Dame. Of course the Blazers don’t have an answer for Bron/AD, but not many teams do.

      • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

        Yeah, I tend to agree. Other teams have better wings/forwards to defend LeBron and AD, but at the end of the day nobody is stopping those guys, just challenging them and making them work.

        But nobody has the counterpunch that Portland has with Dame and CJ. It would be nice, though, if they at least had a more competent 3/D forward (like if Ariza was available). As it is, their only forwards playing are offense-only Melo, not-a-rotation-NBA-guy Hezonja, three-guard lineups with Gary Trent Jr., and two-big lineups (which they use almost always, plus Melo or Hezonja at SF).

        • Avatar Niels Pineda says:

          Yep. The Grizzlies might make a fun matchup for a little bit, but their lack of overall experience will kill them in the end game. Portland has a much better chance compared to any other team that would reach the 8th seed simply because they have one of the best closers in Dame.

          The Lakers are also clearly struggling to contain guards without Bradley, and CJ/Dame would definitely light them up with their elite ball handling, penetration abilities, and shooting. On top of that, I think them having Whiteside defensively would be huge just based on his size and athleticism, and Nurk is probably going to be a tough cover for Dwight/Javale who are easily roped into fouls.

          Obviously the Blazers wouldn’t have a great chance, but they would work them for sure.

          • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

            Yeah, I don’t think any of these teams have a realistic shot of beating the Lakers–the Blazers are just the most likely to potentially steal a game, or at least make a couple of the losses competitive and keep LeBron and AD on the floor for a lot of minutes.

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      I think I’m leaning Portland, but my philosophy is also “whichever of these 6 teams gets hot will be the one that has the best chance against the Lakers.” So, if New Orleans doesn’t have it, but a team we aren’t expecting like Phoenix all of a sudden strings together wins behind big Booker games, I’ll be okay.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Man, what a great shooting night. PG was on fire for sure. My hope is that Shamet can catch fire like he did last year. He’s been off. My guess is that he needs a handful of games and practices and he’ll be back to his normal sure shooting ways. Not a huge fan of Morris. He’s kind of seems like a knucklehead. Like Shamet, he needs to find his shooting touch.

    • Avatar Niels Pineda says:

      I think that Shamet and Morris are the two players who struggle the most by being in a system that isn’t really conducive to their styles.

      This season, Shamet has fewer plays run for him and he’s used as more of an opportunistic spot up shooter. When he was starting alongside SGA, they clearly had dedicated sets to get him open looks in rhythm. Now as he plays more alongside Lou, he basically just stands around, let’s Lou do his thing, then gets thrown the ball if Lou is in trouble.

      Morris on the other hand was used to being the ball dominant scorer who could chuck a huge volume with little to no pressure. Now he’s playing with offensive players all on another level and he doesn’t have that level of comfort or freedom. He clearly prefers creating his own shot, but even with the Clippers missing Lou and Trez, he will never get that opportunity with the level of talent the Clips have. I was/am hoping that he can kind of find himself like he did on the Celtics. He was still a bit of a blackhole, but didn’t need the ball as much.

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    That was fun.

    • lying dog-faced pony soldier lying dog-faced pony soldier says:

      The Raptors have the Lakers’ number. Lakers fans are worried that other teams may emulate Toronto and double or even triple AD, who I’ve read isn’t great at passing out of trouble in the paint. Certainly Doc and the Clippers’ braintrust are well aware of this, and I’m sure have tried this approach in the past. I will be interested to see if the Clippers employ this strategy in the playoffs.

  • Avatar Alex Siskin says:

    Some fine tuning notes. It was a little shocking that the Clippers didn’t score 160 points in this game. The start was incredible–the key sign that something was going on was when Pat Bev hit the 3. It seems like he has needed time to find his stroke the past couple of years, starting both seasons really slowly and hitting droughts coming back from injury, etc., but then he gets going. With so many options, teams will leave him open and let him shoot. Right up top in this game it looked like he was picking up where he left off, and his 3pt. shot is a weapon that can absolutely kill other teams. PG was incredible, of course. We know he can play like a Kobe/MVP-type and be unstoppable, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch, especially alongside Kawhi. Zu had a fine game but he left some points off the board down low, he didn’t look completely dialed in yet, but his effort, running speed, and length are all there, and he should keep rising. PPaterson seemed to be rushing things and wasn’t hitting his shot–and if you’re looking at that item in a critique, you know you’re probably nitpicking an absolute blowout. TMann too, who hit the tidy final 3, but he was around the rim multiple times during the 4th, and nothing went in. Shamet hitting shots makes a big difference, and it’s still hard to say if Morris has the right mindset and can bring his best game consistently, but there was improvement. And it’s still very weird, like the Clippers aren’t the team we know, without both Trezz and Lou. Obviously they’re getting more 3s because Trezz isn’t voraciously eating buckets in the paint. Trying to ladle those guys their big minutes and looks on a team that just played such a strong game could be tricky, but it’s the ultimate high class problem.

    • Avatar zhiv says:

      First post glitch. Messed up the sobriquet. Fixed now.

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      While obviously you don’t want to overthink things-you want two of your very good players back in the lineup as soon as possible, it may end up making things smoother that Lou will return Tuesday while Trez will likely miss 1-2 more games at least. That way, we’re only adding one major piece back into the fold at a time.

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