Dec 31, 2011, 2:17 AM EDT
The Clippers are pure Los Angeles now — entertainment with some basketball thrown in as a bonus.
The Clippers are a show and Staples Center was filled and buzzing like a movie premiere — people want to see Chris Paul throwing lobs to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. They wanted and got Derrick Rose vs. CP3. This is L.A. where everybody flocks to the hot new thing and the Clippers are that.
The team didn’t disappoint, starting with the first play when Joakim Noah slipped and Blake Griffin flew past him to throw down the crushing dunk. The video board was busy all night with replays of monster plays at the rim.
And when the dust settled, the Chicago Bulls had the win 114-101. Because they are the better team.
“Our defense and our rebounding is an issue,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said after the game. “We’re giving up too many points right now.”
That may be an understatement — the Clippers are a ways from being a good defensive team. The Clippers are quite a show, their athleticism can be overwhelming, but they remain a work in progress. Particularly on defense. Their execution isn’t good enough on either end, they lack enough depth on the roster (particularly inside), the chemistry between Griffin in Paul is starting to marinate but is along way from where it can and needs to be. The Clippers are a team of potential trying to figure out who they are.
On the other hand the Bulls know exactly who they are, and they have their chemistry down. In the fourth quarter they just kept going at an elbow pick-and-roll with Rose and Carlos Boozer and the Clippers couldn’t stop it. When L.A. collapsed in to stop Rose’s drives he knew Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver would be there for the weakside corner three (there were three of those in the fourth quarter). The Clippers didn’t know how to stop it. Plus, Rose did some of those Rose-like things in the lane nobody can stop. He’s a good show himself.
Rose is especially dangerous when he can step back off a high screen and drain a three, something he did twice in the fourth. Rose finished with 29 points (on 14 shots) plus 16 assists. He bested Paul, who himself was impressive with 15 points and 14 assists. The two had a duel going in the second half that Rose described as “fun.” Paul several times drove into the strong-side Tom Thibodeau defense, drew everyone in and found shooters lurking on the weak side.
But while the Bulls did that under pressure late, the Clippers offense stagnated into more isolation or pick-and-rolls without much movement.
The Clippers are where the Bulls were a couple years ago, where Oklahoma City was a couple years ago. This team has the potential to be contenders, but they need to learn to defend, they need to develop chemistry, the front office needs to fill in a few roster holes.
That has already happened in Chicago. They know who and what they are — they are contenders, not just another show.
- Report: Mavericks looking to move No. 13 pick to clear out cap space for run at Howard, CP3 17
- Report: Mike Krzyzewski to return, coach Team USA in 2016 Olympics 8
- Lakers GM Kupchak denies he, Howard talked about D’Antoni 14
- Kevin Love and Flip Saunders hitting it off 6
- Three things about Game 2: Tony Parker is that good but Randolph, Grizzlies figuring it out 6
- Report: Dwight Howard will consider multiple teams in free agency, is said to be most intrigued by the Rockets (122)
- Kobe Bryant responds to Michael Jordan comparison from Phil Jackson (88)
- Alonzo Mourning says Scottie Pippen says LeBron would “kick Jordan’s ass” (75)
- Bradley Beal said he’d lose respect for a teammate who acted like Derrick Rose (67)
- Seattle group releases statement; forced to wait, hope for expansion (64)
- Tiger calls Sergio's comments inappropriate, hurtful
- Bears great Urlacher announces retirement
- PBT: Rugged Pacers hope to slow high-flying Heat
- Posnanski on Golf: Sergio shows disdain for Tiger
- OlyTalk: Coach K will lead Team USA in Rio Games
- PFT: Crabtree tears achilles, out six months
- PHT: Canucks reportedly fire Vigneault, assistants