Jamal Crawford posted 27 points against the Jazz. (Facebook/Los Angeles Clippers)
After a loss in the Bay Area against the Golden State Warriors where the Clippers’ offense looked stagnant, the Clippers came into tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz in search of the offensive momentum that has carried the team so far this season.
Blake Griffin had 25 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists, and Jamal Crawford added 27 points off the bench as the Clippers continued their home dominance this season by beating the Jazz 102-87.
1st Quarter: Unlike most of their games recently, the Clippers were good defensively in the opening quarter, holding the Jazz to 21 points on 35% shooting.
2nd Quarter: Hedo Turkoglu made 3-of-4 shots in the second quarter for 6 points.
With practice days and team shootaround sessions hard to come by for the Clippers of late, Turkoglu is slowly but surely finding his legs and finding ways to contribute for the Clippers with his shooting and passing.
Both teams were tied at 42 heading into halftime in an underwhelming first half for Los Angeles.
3rd Quarter: An emphatic alley-oop dunk from Crawford to Griffin with 3:30 remaining finally awoke the mostly dormant Staples Center crowd.
DeAndre Jordan had a ferocious dunk of his own with under a minute remaining and finally gave the Clippers some separation heading into the fourth.
The Clippers established fluidity on offense and were able to capitalize on it to build a lead.
A buzzer-beating baby hook by Enes Kanter cut Los Angeles’ lead to 76-65 after three.
4th Quarter: The Clippers opened the fourth with two quick buckets to extend their lead to a game-high 15, prompting a Utah timeout.
Turkoglu officially broke into Lob City after feeding Jordan on a fine alley-oop from the top of the key.
But the play of the night came when Griffin drove to the basket—powering his way amidst traffic—missed a 4-footer, and grabbed his own rebound. He drove back again after his miss, looking every bit the skilled point guard, and was fouled while making a shot from behind the backboard as the ball bounced on the top of the backboard twice.
He made the ensuing free throw.
The Takeaway: Christ Paul’s absence has helped the Clippers in many ways. But of all the blessings in disguise, the most important revelation for the team has undoubtedly been Griffin’s emergence.
Griffin has not only been a shoo-in to score 20 points every night, but he’s approached every game with a distinct game plan for each specific opponent.
There are certain nights when he plays the role of facilitator, holding the ball at the top of the key as he waits for a play to develop.
Other nights he ignites the offense by exploiting an overmatched defender who’s either too slow or not strong enough to defend him.
At this rate, it would be no pipe dream for Griffin to finish in the top five in this season’s NBA MVP ballot.
Turkoglu has looked increasingly comfortable the past two or three games.
The dividends have yet to show up in the box score, but Turkoglu’s increased role handling the ball and his flashes of intelligence could very well make him a candidate to be a vital player come playoff time.
What’s Next?: The Clippers travel to Denver to face the Nuggets Monday at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on Prime Ticket, and KFWB 980 AM will have the call on radio.