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Catching Up With the Flawed Clippers

January 24th, 2017 · No Comments · Basketball, Clippers, Lakers, NBA

When we last lived full-time in the U.S., the Lakers were good and the Clippers were awful. Same-ol’ same-ol’, that is.

Now, the Lakers are awful and the Clippers are … pretty good. Not as good as some thought they would be, certainly not champion contenders, but the best team in Los Angeles and a club that could last a couple of rounds in the playoffs.

Though one would not have been impressed with the Clippers who lost 121-110 in Philadelphia tonight, a game that represents the first Clippers game I have watched from start to finish in years.

The Clippers led by 19 early in the third quarter, then collapsed. They were outscored 62-32 over the final 21 minutes by the Sixers, a team recently committed to tanking who finally seem headed north.

The Clippers are, of course, flawed.

They have three good players but they come with issues.

Chris Paul, the point guard, is hurt again (thumb ligament), and as much as some experts like him he has never played in a conference championship series.

Blake Griffin, first pick of the 2009 draft, just came back from his latest (knee) injury and was rusty, scoring 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting. He may have peaked three years ago; he has missed 80 games since.

DeAndre Jordan is a 7-foot rebounding machine and fine defender who struggles to score and is one of the worst free-throw shooters in the league — 4-for-12 in the game, 47.3 percent in his career.

After that … J.J. Redick is OK, a three-point specialist at shooting guard who doesn’t bring much else to the table, and the starting small forward, Luc Mbah a Moute, is Just a Guy — who does very little.

Off the bench, there’s Ancient Baller Jamal Crawford and a lot of speed and energy, and Austin Rivers, coach Doc Rivers’ son, who doesn’t run the team very well.

These guys are better than the Lakers, still. For sure. Check the records: Clippers 30-17 and fourth in the Western Conference, Lakers 16-32 and worst in the West.

That doesn’t mean the Clippers are going to win anything, or even threaten to accomplish a little something.

Hard to imagine, when you blow a 19-point lead against the better-but-not-fearsome Sixers.

For fans of the NBA, given the choice of watching the Lakers or the Clippers, the Clippers win, easily. They can be good for stretches of time. They can go toe to toe with good teams and not be embarrassed.

But seeing them live, with Paul a month away from returning, and as Griffin tries to get up to speed and Jordan shoots airballs from the free-throw line …

Not doing much to impress us.

And it probably will get worse. Paul, 32, and Griffin, 28, are free agents after this season. Each will not want to end his career as “guys who couldn’t win the big one”.

This team could be deconstructed this summer if the Clippers don’t do enough to convince everyone they are a contender worthy of a star’s allegiance.

Tonight, as anyone watching them lose could see, they are not a serious contender. A year from now, they could struggle to be a fringe playoffs team.

Enjoy this team as much as you can, because this could be as good as it gets — and it isn’t all that good.




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