The Night Lob City Died
The Laker haters in town climbed aboard the Clipper bandwagon, and it got them to the same place: a first-round exit. Sure the Clippers might have been really exciting during the season. They might have won a franchise-record 17 consecutive games. They might have seemed more functional and exciting than the Lakers. But after the Clippers lost 118-105 in Game 6, "Lob City" is as dead as the Lakers.
I was convinced the Clippers were going to get out of this round in six games. They had the best player on the floor: Chris Paul. They had to win, right? And look what happened in Game 1, the Clippers blowing out the Grizzlies 112-91. The Clippers just had too many weapons.
Boy did the Grizzlies adjust. Once Zach Randolph entered the series in Game 3, Memphis was unstoppable down low with Marc Gasol completing the towering duo.
The turning point of the series came in the fourth quarter of Game 4. With the Clippers trailing by four to start the fourth quarter, they started heaving up three-pointers as if there was only a minute left in regulation. The shot selection was atrocious, and it really reinforced what I and a lot of people have pointed out during the season: the Clippers have no half-court offense. While I thought it would get them in trouble in the next round, it seems like it caught up with them a bit ahead of schedule.
Now the Clippers face questions.
1. Will Chris Paul sign a long-term contract? Paul is an unrestricted free agent once the season comes to an end, and the Clippers can offer him the most money. But will he want to stay? Let's also remember the general manager that put this team together is now in Portland. This brings up a corollary question.
2. Will Vinny Del Negro be the head coach next season? We've seen the lack of an offensive game plan. We've seen questionable substitutions in tight games. We've seen the team regress in the playoffs.
3. Who else do you bring back? Next season the Clippers bring back DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Eric Bledsoe and they have a team-option on Willie Green. Do you try and temper the "Lob City" hubris with some disciplined offense? Do you keep going small and fast? Do you try and get tougher?
If the Clippers get Paul back, they should keep Matt Barnes. With 30 points and 10 rebounds in the elimination game, he was one of the few players to show up for the Clips.
Fortunately the Clippers will have all summer to be ignored by the Lakers coverage.