Clippers Still a Work in Progress in Loss to Miami Heat
With the 102-97 loss to the Miami Heat, it's clear the Clippers aren't there yet.
There are those, myself included, that expected the Clippers to look like a well-oiled machine right out of the starting gate. With Doc Rivers coaching, they were supposed to dominate all comers.
The Lakers quickly dispelled that myth on opening night, and the Clippers first big road trip of the season is starting to look like more of the same.
For once the Clippers held an opponent to under 100 points last night against the Orlando Magic. Unfortunately they only shot 38% in their 98-90 loss. Of course it didn't help they allowed Nikola Vucevic 30 points and 21 rebounds.
For their troubles the Clippers headed south to face the reigning champs, another team that doesn't look like they've clicked as of yet. Their losses in Philadelphia and Brooklyn were shocking to say the very least, especially after they manhandled the Chicago Bulls on opening night.
The good news for the Clippers was that they held LeBron James to 18 points. The problem was that allowed everyone else to chip in: Dwyane Wade with a game-high 29 points; Chris Bosh - 12 points; Ray Allen - 12 points; Chris Anderson - 10 points. It didn't help that Matt Barnes was out with a thigh contusion.
It was the role players that helped spark the Heat to take over the game in the third quarter. The Heat got off to another slow start trailing 7-0 before the seats were warmed up. The game stayed close although the Clippers took a four-point lead heading into the first half.
Things looked like roses for the Clippers when Blake Griffin hit a three to open the second half, but that was not a sign of things to come. The Clippers only shot 36% as the Heat started to pull away. Sure they never led by more than three points in the quarter, but as it got into the fourth the Clippers seemed to have no answers for Wade. The Clippers would get to within two possessions, then Wade would hit a jumper.
Next thing you knew, the Heat had an 11-point lead. The Heat looked like the champs they are, while the Clippers looked like they had some work to do.
Offensively Chris Paul did not have his best night. He went 3-for-11 with 11 points although he also had 12 assists and grabbed five rebounds. Painful though was the 2-for-7 shooting for only six points in the entire second half.
Jamal Crawford added 14 points off the bench, and Griffin led the team with 27 points and 14 rebounds.
One thing that is noticeable is the Clippers improved offensive game. It's no longer Chris Paul with the ball for 15 seconds before the ball gets to Blake Griffin forcing to take an awkward shot. There is now ball movement and a fluidity in the plays on that end of the floor.
But I believe it was Doc Rivers who said that offense is false gold. The defense really needs to come around for the Clippers to be true contenders.
This is not an indictment of the team's chances come April. Fortunately for the Clippers, there is a long way to go until then.