Game #10 | November 16, 2013
Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES – The Clippers prepared Thursday and Friday for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams and the rest of the Brooklyn Nets.
But come Saturday night, the new-look Eastern Conference power was a shell of itself. Garnett, Pierce, Williams and All-Star Brook Lopez missed the game due to injury. And the Clippers responded the way Head Coach Doc Rivers was afraid they might.
“Mentally, it’s a challenge,” Rivers said prior to the game. “These games like tonight are very difficult because you have one team that’s free and are a bunch of pros who want to show everybody that they should be playing and they’re going to play at unbelievable clip as far as intensity.”
Outside of an impassioned run in the third quarter, the intensity for the Clippers wavered for most of the night. But they found enough of a spark to overcome a double-digit deficit and hold on for a 110-103 win at Staples Center, their fourth in a row.
Blake Griffin finished with a season-high 30 points and 12 rebounds, reaching at least 20 points and 10 rebounds for the seventh time in the last nine games. Chris Paul had 12 points on 3-for-12 shooting with 13 assists, seven rebounds and three steals and missed nine of his first 10 shots before knocking down two in a row in the closing two minutes.
J.J. Redick added 26 points, including a 3-pointer to make it 96-92 in the fourth, DeAndre Jordan had 16 rebounds and five blocked shots, and Byron Mullens scored 10 points off the bench, going a perfect 4-for-4 from the field. Still, another 110-point outing for the league’s highest scoring team almost let a win get away.
“It was something we talked about,” Griffin said. “I heard three or four guys talking about it before Doc came in and gave his pregame speech. We talked about it in our pregame speech. We talked about it on the court, so I can’t really say it was one of those things where it kind of took us by surprise. It really didn’t. I know I was well aware and everybody else was well aware that this was kind of a trap.
“We’ll take the win, but obviously we’ve got to be better.”
Much like the Clippers (7-3) have all season, they played in spurts. Redick and Griffin combined to score the first 19 points of the game and helped a start that Jamal Crawford described as “sluggish.” But they languished for too long and the Nets, sparked by rookie Mason Plumlee and center Aundray Blatche took command. A 10-0 run to open the third quarter, put Brooklyn (3-6) up 65-54.
Even after the Clippers started climbing back in it, things appeared to take a turn for the worse. Griffin left the game for a brief stretch after rolling his left foot with 7:30 remaining in the third period. He was checked out in the locker room by Clippers trainer Jasen Powell and returned to the game two and a half minutes later.
“I just came down normal and felt something in the back of my ankle,” Griffin said. “I don’t know what it was. It felt like my ankle kind of needed to pop or needed to move a little, but it didn’t. So, [Powell] wanted to look at it in the back and I was trying to tell him I was okay.
“It just scared me not knowing what exactly what it was or what that feeling was. I’ve never felt that before, but I can put full weight on it without an unbearable amount of pain.”
As scary as the injury appeared, Griffin’s emergence from the tunnel seemed to energize a crowd that for most of the night had little to applaud. With Griffin in the locker room, Redick and Mullens hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help trim an 11-point deficit to five.
Moments after coming back in, Griffin rejected a layup attempt by Plumlee, sprinted the floor and finished with an acrobatic layup. Plumlee fouled Griffin on the shot and his subsequent free throw tied the game at 67, drawing the Clippers even for the first time since they led by a point with 10:29 to go in the second quarter.
Griffin’s 3-point play was at the heart of an 18-0 run that put the Clippers in front by seven.
“We just picked our tempo up,” said Matt Barnes, who had two points and five rebounds. “I think that was the key. We were playing too relaxed, too comfortable for the first half and through the middle of the third quarter. But Chris put his pedal to the metal and we followed him.”
They would never trail again after Redick converted a 3-pointer off a dish from Paul. But that didn’t mean the pesky Nets went away. They closed to within one before Redick’s 3-pointer and seven combined points by Paul and Griffin in three consecutive possessions finally put it away.
“We didn’t play well, but numbers-wise we still scored 110 and shot 52 percent,” Rivers said.
“Defensively, they were 42 percent from the field. Those are numbers we’d take, but what we didn’t like were the turnovers (18) and the offensive rebounding (16 allowed).”
Rivers confirmed before the game that he met with free agent forward Lamar Odom on Friday afternoon and declined to go into further details about what they discussed… The Clippers held the Nets to 42.4 percent shooting… Jordan has had 16 or more rebounds in 11 games in his career. Four have come this season… Paul needs one more game of 10-plus points and 10-plus assists to tie Magic Johnson for the NBA record to start a season… The Clippers have not lost at home since Apr. 1, 2013 when they fell 109-106 to the Pacers… The Clippers had a 51-39 rebounding edge. It’s the third time this season they’ve topped 50 rebounds… Crawford had 13 points off the bench… The Clippers held the Nets to 38 points in the paint. It’s the first game this season they’ve prevented an opponent from reaching at least 40…
Clippers guard J.J. Redick on the Clippers’ success in the third quarter in several games this season:
“If you are down you play with a better sense of urgency. That’s the bottom line. I think about the Houston game at Houston, tonight, the Orlando game, the Thunder… All double-digit leads in the third quarter. At that point you’ve got no choice but to make a run and play with a higher sense of urgency.”
Clippers forward Matt Barnes on how team overcame deficit and slow start:
“Energy. I think we finally picked up midway through that third quarter. I mean, everybody that you play against is an NBA caliber player. I think when the big names were taken away tonight, it took some of the excitement away. You can never underestimate anybody, but it took us half a game to really get going. And you can’t have that.”
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on Blake Griffin’s injury in the third quarter:
“It’s scary because no one’s around. Whenever no one’s around, those are injuries that are real injuries. It’s amazing. You can run into somebody a million miles an hour and you rarely get hurt. But when you see someone go down and no one’s around, then you’re scared because it means your body has decided has decided it doesn’t want to play anymore.”
Clippers guard Chris Paul on the game:
“I don’t believe there was a letdown. Those were pros we played against. They were scoring early. Everybody always says it’s a trap game or things like that, but it’s tough as it is. These guys are going to come out and play hard. They probably ran more sets than they usually run. Usually, when you watch Brooklyn play they’re very deliberate. They come drop the ball on the block to Brook Lopez and give it to different tonight, but tonight they moved the ball and played very free.”
Nets head coach Jason Kidd on combating the Clippers’ athleticism:
“Well, our talk was our transition defense and we know that in this building they can put up 120 [points]. So, we tried to fully concentrate on getting our guys back, slowing them down that way. But also the one way you can slow them down is putting the ball in the basket, and we did that for most of the game. Again, on the road you want to put yourself in the a position to win and we did that.”
Postgame: Clippers vs Nets 11/16/13Clippers edge out a win over a depleted Nets team at Staples Center
Clippers Highlights vs NetsThe Clippers top plays from their 110-103 victory over the Nets
Blake Griffin Postgame - 11/16/13Blake Griffin discusses the win over the Nets.
J.J. Redick Postgame - 11/16/13J.J. Redick addresses the media following the win over the Nets.
DeAndre Blocks EvansDeAndre Jordan blocks Reggie Evans as he drives to the basket.
Griffin Denial and LayupBlake Griffin blocks Mason Plumlee from behind and on the break gets the layup plus the foul.
Griffin Tough MakeBlake Griffin hits the tough shot as Andray Blatche wraps his arms around him for the foul.
Pregame: Doc Rivers | 11/16/2013Doc Rivers addresses the media before the Clippers take on the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center.
Doc Coaches Against Familiar FacesFor Doc Rivers, the Clippers game against Brooklyn means a matchup with his past.
Jamal Crawford Nov 16Jamal Crawford talks about the Clippers matchup with Brooklyn at Staples Center.
By: Eric Patten | Follow @EricPatten
LOS ANGELES – Revamped Brooklyn’s in the house.
Ok, so that’s not precisely the lyrics to Cut Master D.C.’s 1986 hip-hop classic. But the new-look Brooklyn Nets are making their only visit to Staples Center Saturday night.
It is also the first game Clippers head coach Doc Rivers will be opposite Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce since the trio helped the Celtics win the 2007-08 title. The story of how Rivers, Pierce and Garnett left Boston has been well documented. However, Rivers said he’s not sure how he’ll react when seeing them in Brooklyn jerseys for the first time.
“I try not to think about it because it’s going to be strange,” Rivers said. “They’re very close to me, obviously. I know I would like to beat them because they’d like to beat me.”
On Saturday, though, the Clippers (6-3) will be seeking their fourth consecutive win after defeating Houston, Minnesota and Oklahoma City. The Nets are on night two of a back-to-back and snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Phoenix Suns in overtime Friday and have struggled at times through the early portion of the season. In a way, the Nets (3-5) are similar to the Clippers in that they are headed by a new coach (Jason Kidd) and are incorporating several new pieces to a lineup that already featured multi-time All-Stars.
“They’re a talented team,” Blake Griffin said prior to practice Friday. “They’ve got Hall of Famers at several positions, All-Stars, and they have a pretty deep team. But like us, they’re new. They have a new staff, and players here-and-there.”
The Nets could be without star point guard Deron Williams, who rolled his left ankle in the first quarter of their 100-98 win over the Suns. Williams was already nursing a tender ankle before landing awkwardly as he came down on an attempted floater in the lane.
Blake Griffin vs. Kevin Garnett
Rivers helped Garnett earn his only championship during Garnett’s first year in Boston, and while Griffin’s at a different stage in his career, Rivers will try to do the same with Griffin in 2013-14. It is only the sixth time Garnett and Griffin have faced off in three-plus seasons. Griffin has averaged 18.4 points and 9.2 rebounds in those games.
He’s been a dominant force in the early goings of this season. He’s one of only three players in the league averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds (Kevin Love and Anthony Davis) and as the Clippers’ high-scoring offense has blossomed, Griffin’s assist numbers have gone up. He had a season-high tying seven assists against the Thunder on Wednesday.
“To me, a nice assist is just as good as a nice dunk or a nice finish,” he said Friday. Griffin is second on the team with 31 assists and has additional 12 “hockey” assists.
As for Garnett, he seems to be feeling his way out with the Nets. The 37-year-old surefire Hall of Famer is playing reduced minutes and averaging fewer than six points per game. Kidd has been reluctant to play Garnett on the second night of a back-to-back this season, but Saturday is likely a game Garnett would hesitate to miss, even if his minutes are limited.
“I’m still not used to seeing them in Brooklyn jerseys,” Griffin said of Pierce and Garnett. “I know, [Garnett] started out with Minnesota, but it seems weird not seeing him with the Celtics. You know, it won’t be weird after a couple of plays.”
THINGS TO WATCH
1. Reunited. The dominant storyline Saturday is Pierce and Garnett taking on their former coach. Rivers, who owns the third best winning percentage among NBA coaches since 2007-08 when Garnett arrived in Boston, has praised his former players all week.
“It’s going to be different, probably emotional,” Rivers said. “I don’t know how I’m going to respond. I love those two guys. Without them I wouldn’t be sitting here, I really wouldn’t. Players make coaches and I had two wonderful ones. They’re the best. Any coach should have a chance to coach Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and I was one of the lucky ones that had that chance.”
2. Big vs. small. The Nets average height is only one inch more than the Clippers, but the players that are typically on the floor make up one of the biggest starting units in the league. If Williams plays, he’s Brooklyn’s smallest player at 6-foot-3. If he’s out, former Clipper Shaun Livingston would likely start and make them even bigger (6-foot-7).
“They’re huge,” Rivers said. “They’re the biggest team in the league when you look at it all the down to guard. It will create some unbelievable matchups, but we’re fast. So, we want to create matchups with our speed.”
The Clippers are the highest scoring team in the league and are tied with Dallas for sixth in pace (101.0). While Kidd originally wanted to run a high-octane offense in Brooklyn that has not been the case so far. The Nets are a middle of the pack team in terms of pace and average just 11 fast-break points per game. That’s why Rivers is adamant that the Clippers’ must impact the game with their speed.
“We’re not going to grow, that’s a fact,” Rivers said. “We’re just going to have to play with our speed. We can do that. We did that the other night. We did that in the Houston game when they had both bigs on the floor. The Minnesota game, when they had two bigs on the floor. The difference with Brooklyn is that they’re big at every position. They’re not just big at the four and five.”
Through seven games, the Nets posted up 9.8 percent of the time, according to Synergy Sports. But they are one of only eight teams so far this season scoring at least 0.90 points per post possession. They have 74 post possessions that have led to 74 points. The Clippers have the third best rate in points per possession in the post behind Brooklyn (No. 2) and Miami.
“They’ll post us one through five,” Rivers said. “The good part is we know they’re going to post us and we know they’re going to post us at every position. We just have to be ready to deal with it.”
He said they have to limit Brooklyn’s second-shot opportunities in order to do that.
“If we can rebound, the game keeps its pace,” Rivers said. “That’s the biggest part about playing big teams. If you can get them one and done, then we can create the pace.”
Reserve forward Andrei Kirilenko (back) did not travel with Brooklyn on its three-game trip to the west coast, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Alex Raskin… The Nets are 1-4 on the road, while the Clippers are riding an eight-game home winning streak that dates back to last season… Brooklyn has two former Clippers in their 10-man rotation: Livingston and 2012 Playoff star Reggie Evans… With a points-assists double-double on Saturday, Paul would move one shy of Magic Johnson for the NBA record to start a season (11)… Griffin has had at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in six of the last eight games… The Clippers are 6-6 in their last 12 games against Nets… Garnett leads Brooklyn in rebounding with 7.8 per game, while Griffin and DeAndre Jordan both average 10-plus… The third quarter has been crucial for Brooklyn. They are +29 in the third in their three wins and -41 in their five losses…
THEY SAID IT
Doc Rivers: “I don’t care about anybody’s record right now. They have talent on the floor. With social media and all that we react to the now. They’re [3-5], my gosh. They’re a good team and they’ll be a good team at the end of the year.”
COMING AND GOING
LAST TIME OUT