POSTGAME REPORT: CLIPPERS 76, NETS 86 - 11/23/12

BROOKLYN–Blake Griffin and Chris Paul used the word “stagnant” to describe the Clippers offense when asked about the team’s execution down the stretch of their 86-76 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

The Clippers (8-4) sustained their second road loss in a row Friday night, in part, because, according to the team’s two superstars, the ball movement that had made them one of the most effective offensive units through11 games was inauspiciously absent.  

“The offense was stagnant tonight,” said Griffin. “We didn’t do a good job moving the ball and getting easy shots like we have.”

Griffin attempted just two shots after halftime and Paul was 0-for-3 from the field and committed six fouls in the fourth. The Clippers were held without a field goal over the final 4:15 of the fourth quarter and committed 20 turnovers for the game.

Paul, who entered the evening with the third best assist-to-turnover ratio in the NBA, said, “We just didn’t make shots. In the second half we had too many turnovers and missed a lot of open shots and then we just got stagnant.”

The win was the fifth in six games at the newly-constructed Barclays Center for the Nets (7-4).

Difference Maker: Brook Lopez. After the Clippers tied the game on a layup by Jamal Crawford, Gerald Wallace converted 1-of-2 free throws on Paul’s second foul. On the two Nets possessions that followed, Lopez made consecutive driving layups to give Brooklyn a five-point lead.

“Overall, I think Lopez hurt us with his post-ups, his shots, getting to the basket,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “At the end there he made a couple of big drives on us that we couldn’t contain.”

Lopez’s plays at the rim were set up by his ability to knock down mid-range jumpers from the baseline earlier in the game. The Nets center finished with a game-high 26 points on 13-of-24 shooting.

Moment of Truth: Jamal Crawford and DeAndre Jordan attempted to run a two-man dribble handoff on the right wing after Lopez put Brooklyn up by five with 3:03 remaining. The play collapsed after an errant pass by Jordan in the post and Joe Johnson canned an open 3-pointer from the right corner that essentially sealed the game for Brooklyn.  

Stat Line of the Night/Day: The rebounding differential. The Clippers have been somewhat of a middle of the pack team in terms of rebounding for most of the season, and while they have won the rebounding edge in previous games, Friday night was overwhelmingly in the team’s favor. They had a 24-12 edge at halftime, including 14 offensive boards and finished with a 45-35 (17-11 offensive) rebounding advantage overall.

Asked why they were so successful on the boards, Jordan said, “Just hitting first and staying physical with the guys. We knew that they have some good quality bigs and we know Reggie [Evans] will [hit first], so we just had to be physical. And I wanted to crash the glass as much as possible tonight. But it wasn’t enough.”

It is the first time since March 2010 the Clippers have lost by double digits after owning a rebounding advantage of 10 or more.

More Stats: 

Blake Griffin. Despite his lack of touches in the second half, Griffin still managed 14 points and did so in an array of moves. During one three-possession stretch in the second quarter, he made a turnaround jump hook, baseline jumper and skied for a defensive rebound where his head was near the rim. He finished with eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks, including one that had the Brooklyn crowd shuddering. Deron Williams beat his defender baseline and rose up for a dunk on the left side of the rim. The attempt was foiled by Griffin, who rotated over, rejected the dunk and somehow managed to keep the ball in play and earn a possession for the Clippers.

DeAndre Jordan. He was more jumping jack than center, keeping the ball alive a season-high eight times on the offensive glass and throwing down two alley-oops in the first quarter. He had 12 points on 5-for-14 shooting and 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season and second in as many games.

Reggie Evans. The former Clipper received several “Reggie Ev-ans” chants from the Brooklyn faithful (not the familiar “Regg-ie”) as he plowed his way to a six-point, 12-rebound effort.

Hot: Joe Johnson. The five-time All-Star came into the game shooting 36.4% from the field, but got going early with a couple of runners and wound up going 8-for-12 for 19 points.

Not: Paul. A game after going 2-for-14 against Oklahoma City, Paul came out aggressively in the first quarter, tallying six of his nine assists. Still, he went scoreless in the final 5:39, fouled out, and had just one fourth-quarter assist to two turnovers.

“I didn’t do a good job of creating for my teammates,” Paul said. “I’ve got to do a better job of finding them when they’re open. I’m probably holding onto the ball too much, I’ve got to move it.”

Quotables:

On the turnover problems:

Del Negro: “The turnovers really hurt us tonight. We have to do a better job of controlling that. We had 20 turnovers tonight and every time we got a stop we turned it over on the break or stepped out of bounds. Just not executing the way we need to. We didn’t shoot the basketball very well, we missed a lot of easy shots, but it was really more that we got a stop or two and never could get any rhythm. We didn’t do a good job moving the basketball. I thought the game in the second half kind of slowed down to their pace a little bit more than ours.”

Paul: “It was the timing of [the turnovers] and they (the Nets) were just going down and converting. Then at the end of the game they were on the free throw line. There wasn’t anybody guarding them, they’re just standing there shooting free throws.”

On not settling for outside jumpers:

Lopez: "My [teammates] are giving me good looks around the basket where I can take one dribble and go up and dunk it. I am getting a lot of easy looks thanks to them.”

On the play of Brook Lopez:

Jordan: “He’s a big body. He hit some tough shots tonight. I think we all defended him pretty well. He made tough shots. Nothing he had was easy. We wanted to play him with length and body him and I felt like we did that.”

Notes: It was the fifth loss in the Clippers’ last six games against the Nets… The Clippers are now 2-3 in their first game in a new arena since 2004… The Clippers outscored the Nets 17-0 in fast-break points… Jordan and Ryan Hollins were whistled for technical fouls in the third quarter. Williams made both free throws that ensued… The Clippers shot a season-low 40.3% to go along with their season-low 76 points… Caron Butler started and played 32:13 after missing Wednesday’s game with a strained right shoulder. He finished with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting (0-for-3 from 3-point range) and afterwards said he felt a little sore, but otherwise felt “pretty good.”