Rough Road for the Clippers This Year
The Clippers finally lost. In a lackluster performance in Denver on Tuesday, the Clippers lost to the Nuggets 92-78 and with it their 17-game winning streak. Now after losing to the Golden State Warriors 115-94, the Clippers have hit their first rough patch since late November when their streak began.
And what a streak it was. Chris Paul was the NBA Western Conference Player of the Month for December and Vinny Del Negro was named the NBA Coach of the Month as the Clippers had a 16-0 December.
Most of the games during that win streak followed a similar formula: the Clippers would feel out their opponent in the first quarter, open up the game in the second quarter, kill the opponent in the third quarter with the bench closing out the affair.
That's not the way things played out in Denver. In fact their prior two games, a home-and-home against the Utah Jazz didn't play that way either. On the road, the Jazz held a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter before the Clippers clamped down and escaped with the win. The Clippers didn't get down against the Jazz at home, but it was still a close fair nonetheless.
In Denver, a 29% shooting third quarter did the Clippers in when they were outscored 27-16. Of the 21 shots they put up, only six went in. Which brings up the point I've been hearing a lot lately about the team: their half-court offense is what will keep them from a championship.
Color analyst Mike Smith during the second quarter noted that the Clippers half-court offense looked much like it did during the 2010-11 season: get the ball to Blake Griffin in the post and expect him to make something happen.
That strategy obviously didn't work. The Clippers only managed to shoot a paltry 34%, their lowest field goal percentage this season. Their second lowest field goal percentage? Last night in Denver at 36.3%.
The shitty shooting meant easy transition points for the Warriors which they feasted on. Stephan knocked down five three-pointers and Stephan Curry knocked down four of his own to keep the Clippers at arm's length throughout most of the game.
Now they have fallen to third place in the West behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. Time to panic!
To be fair to the Clippers, Caron Butler missed the game due to personal reasons. And they have the death of the owner's son looming over their heads. This was also the second game of a back-to-back on the road.
Perhaps most importantly, it's only January. The Clippers have plenty of time to fix their half-court offense, and they will not be ice cold shooting the rest of the season.
Next up for the Clippers are a back-to-back at home against the Lakers and the Warriors completing their four-games-in-five-days mini marathon, so things aren't going to ease up this week.
But it could be a lot worse. They could be the NHL. Or this Michigan running back: