Friday, January 27, 2012
Postgame thoughts: Memphis
By Pedro Moura
LOS ANGELES -- A few items of note following the Los Angeles Clippers' 98-91 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at the Staples Center on Thursday night.
It doesn't get much more balanced than that, on two levels.
The Clippers had four players -- Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Mo Williams and Caron Butler -- score between 17 and 20 points and three more players -- DeAndre Jordan, Chauncey Billups and Randy Foye -- score between seven and nine.
No one else scored at all. But it was enough to top the Zach Randolph-less Grizzlies, who shot just 36 percent for the game.
According to Paul, the reason the Clippers won the game wasn't because of their scoring -- it was because of the way they defended Memphis, especially down the stretch.
"We're a team that could do that every night," he said of the spread-out point totals. "That's not surprising to us. We have the offensive power to do what we want to on any given night. It's just defense that's going to be our biggest thing.
"We have to defend better. When we do that, we'll be better."
Paul is a collective 5-of-19 from the field in the two games he's played since returning from injury. Everything else about his game seems just fine, but his shooting has left quite a bit to be desired.
Wednesday night, he said he missed some shots he would've normally made after a 2-of-8 performance. Asked after Thursday's 3-of-11 night if the shooting was proving to be the last part of his game to come back to him after a 10-day layoff, Paul sounded a bit defensive.
"I guess," Paul said. "I missed two or three lay-ups. The other ones were when the shot clock was running down. I don't know what you want me to do."
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro seemed to think Paul's offense was a bit off -- not that it particularly worried him, considering his point guard still had seven assists. But he didn't deny the offensive struggles.
"I thought he was a little hesitant offensively, last night as well as tonight," Del Negro said. "I liked his aggressiveness more in the second half tonight.
"We know he's more than capable. It's just a matter of him getting his rhythm back and getting in a little bit better flow."
Boston and Orlando
It was funny.
Both Paul and Williams brought up the Celtics-Magic game that took place earlier Thursday when asked about how the Clippers gave up an early 16-point lead and let Memphis back into the game.
Hey, they said -- Orlando just gave up a 27-point lead on their home floor to Boston and got outscored 27-8 in the fourth quarter. If they can do that and lose the game, then giving up a 16-point lead but turning around and holding onto the game isn't too bad at all.
"It happens, man -- it's the NBA," Williams said. "There's a lot of talent on that floor, and it's a long game. You're not trying to do it, but obviously we had to do something to get that lead to begin with. Either one team was playing bad or one team was playing exceptionally well.
"At some point it's going to turn around."
Paul put it more succinctly.
"In this league," he said, "it's not over until it's over.
"We can't let teams back into it like that."
Final notes: The Clippers announced their 11th consecutive sellout Thursday, with 19,275 fans reportedly in attendance. They have still yet to announce a non-sellout...Neither Paul nor Griffin sounded particularly enthused about the special uniforms they sported Thursday night, which were meant to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the ABA. Said Paul: "I don't even care about that type of stuff. I'm just trying to get a win out there." Added Griffin of Memphis' green-and-yellow mismatching outfit: "I don't know why their tops didn't match the bottoms."