Tonight is one of those nights, and that's really what it comes down to. The Clippers came in 8 games above 500 an offensive juggernaut, and tonight they hit a lot of shots. There will be nights where they will hit a lot of contested shots, but tonight many of those shots were spot up wide open shots. Some of that was the Clippers did move the ball exceptionally well. Here is the box score.
There's really not a whole lot to say about this team that I haven't said about individual players, general trends or anything else. So just some things that mattered a great deal towards deciding the outcome
Too many TO's. Period. You can't be a professional basketball team and consistently turn the ball anywhere near 18 times.
The shooting started off well, but the dropped as the Clippers figured out what most in the NBA know: Pack the lane and dare these guys to take jumpers. Especially pack the lane on Cousins and Evans because all they want to do is score inside.
The score was 57-57 at half, and that's considering how back and forth the whole affair was. Then the Clippers scored a neat 8 points to open the 3rd and the Kings never cut into the lead at more than 4 points in any point in the 2nd half.
I hate talking about the officiating because it's such a major league copout, but let's say that had the Clippers not been hitting their 3's all night they would have been as frustrated with the ref's as the Kings were in the 2nd half. Particularly late in that 3rd quarter, some very choppy calls went against the Kings, and for awhile the team kept their composure. Then it unraveled at the start of the 4th quarter when, among other things, Jimmer Fredette came in and committed two turnovers on back to back possessions. It became game at that point officially even if the final score hadn't indicated it yet.
Speaking of Jimmer, that stretch where Jimmer hit those three 3's was simply sensational. Jimmer felt confident, and he was aggressive in a fairly reasonable way. What stuck out to me was the break where Jimmer grabs the board, JJ Hickson runs with him, Jimmer pushes it the length of the floor and makes a beautiful dish off to JJ Hickson for the slam. That was the Jimmer we were all hoping to see a lot more often. Unfortunately, the Jimmer we've seen quickly returned after that play and well, you live to fight another day right? That's why Jimmer doesn't get more than 10-15 minutes because Jimmer simply hasn't adjusted to the speed of NBA basketball yet. Until that happens, Jimmer is going to continue to struggle. Overall though, it was nice to see the confident Jimmer come back even if it was for only a few minutes.
Isaiah Thomas strugged a great deal tonight trying to make plays against, admittedly, a great opponent in Chris Paul. Isaiah had 6 TO's, and often struggled to initiate the offense in meaningful fashion.This was one of the worst games we've seen from Isaiah in a long while, and, if that means anything, I think that's a credit to how effective Isaiah has been for large stretches this season.
John Salmons had another effective game off the bench tonight taking 5 shots, hitting 3 (including 1-2 from 3) for 7 points. Additiionally, Salmons defense in the 2nd quarter often was a big catalyst for the Kings and Salmons had the ball when Jimmer hit a beautiful 3 off a pick set by Chuck Hayes. Nice game by John.
Speaking of Chuck Hayes, had it not been for the Chuckwagon in the late 3rd quarter, the game would have gotten away from the Kings much sooner with their frustration level. It was nice to see the real Chuckwagon stand up in this game.
One of the problems in the offensive flow was that I thought the good baskets Marcus Thornton was getting he stopped getting as the game went on. Maintaining that flow is a major challenge for this Kings team and we saw the impurities of youth rear it's ugly head yet again.
Last but not least, Jason Thompson had a pretty miserable game with just some of the most ridiculous calls you'll ever see going against him that went for Blake Griffin. It didn't cost the Kings the game (the turnovers and poor decision making on the offensive end by Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins at times did) necessarily, but it was frustrating. Jason Thompson had 4 points and 1 rebound. The flirting with a double double JT is what the Kings need.
I wrote about the Clippers in depth earlier today at The Pro Basketball Talk dot com. In general, the game tonight actually bucked many of the season long trends that the Clippers had been illustrating. For whatever that is worth anyway.
The Clippers came out and understood the Kings and what this Kings team wanted to do. The veteran wiles and know how really was so evident throughout the game. The Clipps came out and executed how they wanted to and for the purpose they came into the arena with. It showed. Additionally, that veteran understanding of how to make a play work that is missing from the Kings in abundance right now with this Kings group. Hats off to the Clippers for the win, and tomorrow it's the Lakers in La-La land. Welcome to the land of the NBA kiddies.