The Los Angeles Clippers are going to have to get serious, soon, and isn’t that a bummer for all of us?
Chris Paul was born serious, he was probably barking out orders and waving off screeners in his elementary school days, but the rest of the team loves to revel in transition meandering, jacked-up perimeter bombs, and more per-possession lobs (the faster-paced Denver Nuggets actually top the Clippers overall) than anyone in the NBA. That love comes with a function, too, as these moves are often the quickest point between a possession and a score for players like DeAndre Jordan, Ryan Hollins, and to a lesser extent Jamal Crawford and Blake Griffin.
In the team’s penultimate game of the season on Tuesday, all were in fine form as the Clippers wowed the home crowd with their typical derring-do in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers. And though the game was just one of two on during Tuesday night, and nationally televised (with Marv Albert behind the microphone), it reminded of the best late night NBA League Pass action we’ve enjoyed over the last few years from this group.
(Action that will soon have to turn … serious.)
We begin in the second quarter, when a Lamar Odom defensive rebound and transition push leads to a gorgeous Jamal Crawford pass, and Ryan Hollins (we love it when Marv calls it this) stuff. All topped off by a run over to longtime Clipper fan Billy Crystal for Mr. Saturday Night's approval. Watch:
(Nearly five months in the sun has been very kind to Billy Crystal.)
Next up is Crawford’s steal midway through the third quarter, which led to another fast-break, this time led by Chris Paul. The play is technically referred to as the “Steal of the Night,” but it probably should have been termed the “Turnover That Led to an Awesome DeAndre Jordan Dunk over Damian Lillard That We Snuck In Because There Were Too Many Great Dunks of the Night To Count Last Night.” Here’s the clip, with the abbreviated title:
All this is, of course, infectious. Which is why Chauncey Billups, who was drafted all the way back in 1997 ahead of Antonio Daniels and in back of Keith Van Horn, decided to get in on the action with a between-the-legs pass to a cutting Blake Griffin, for this excellent slam:
Of course, we’re overplaying the “the Clippers have to settle down in the playoffs”-angle.
Though Vinny Del Negro runs a pell-mell style of offense (and, sadly, defense), it can still be effective enough to make a postseason run as it mixes the finer elements of unorthodoxy with Chris Paul’s more sensible instincts. Still, the function of the postseason’s slim rotation and the appearance of the heavy-handed Memphis Grizzlies as first round foes will settle things down a little.
There’s time, though. The Clippers have one regular season game left, against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night, and the Sacramento Kings do not play defense. If the quickly-paced games in Los Angeles and Golden State end early, this pairing could serve as the final few minutes of the NBA’s 2012-13 regular season. Hollins, Eric Bledsoe, and Lamar Odom could share the court, Jimmer Fredette could make a bad skip pass, and Lob City could live on …
… for one more night at least. Get it in, Clippers, before the playoff decals go down.