The Clippers rolled to another preseason win on Monday night against the Golden State Warriors by dunking their way to an 88-71 victory.
Since I was unable to watch the game, I can’t provide much commentary, save that there were a lot of throw-downs in and the Clippers are once again on their way to producing another exciting season of basketball.
Based off what we see in this video, the Clips are gel’ing and getting everyone involved in the offensive production—credit Chris Paul’s genius and his unselfishness which has proved to be a model of positive development for everyone around him.
Deandre Jordan having another double-double is a great sign that his off-season training continues to pay off. It even looks like he’s dunking with more confidence—still the same level of authority on throw-downs, but with a much better grip on the ball. DJ was inconsistent in offensive production last year, but if he can continue to play at this level of output, the rest of the Clippers roster should reap the benefits as the floor opens up even more.
It also looks like Blake Griffin pulled out one of MJ‘s old tricks by ball-pumping. He did it so effectively that he surprised even himself. It was like watching a toddler or puppy becoming self-aware. After realizing the power of trickery, Griffin proceeded to do what he does best: throw one down. Even in replay mode this felt electrifying.
Last but not least, it was soothing to hear an “Oh me, oh my” from the outstanding Ralph Lawler. I’ve missed his commentary that glows with the appreciation that can only come from decades of watching his team struggle.
The Clippers will face the cross-town rival Lakers next: definite must-watch action, even if it is preseason as the Lakers will be sporting their new, shiny lineup featuring Dwight Howard.
As camp kicked off on Saturday for the newly revamped L.A. Clippers, Chris Paul once again expressed his satisfaction with the addition of newcomers like Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill.
“I caught myself really excited on the sidelines watching guys like Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom, all these great players out there on the court… It was really cool to see that now they’re actually on my team.”
— Chris Paul
Paul participated in non-contact drills as he looks to heal rapidly from thumb surgey, while teammate Chauncey Billups (still recovering from last year’s torn achilles) “lightly participated” in non-contact drills.
Both were on hand to check out the prospects of what this team could be in ’12-13 as they look to deliver on the oft-labeled “deepest bench” and “most complete team” sentiments that have been thrown their way during the off-season.
It wasn’t long ago that the Clippers were considered a lowly joke of a franchise. That reality began to change with the arrival of Blake Griffin; it further shifted when the organization serendipitously acquired one of the top point guards in the league, Chris Paul. In spite of having little to no training camp last season, the Clippers successfully made their most successful run to date, including a second round appearing in the Western Conference Playoffs.
With a season under their belts and a slew of veterans to backup an exciting stating lineup, the expectations are raised, both from within the organization and from a small and growing fanbase.
“As far as being deep all the way through, it’ll be the deepest team that I’ve ever played for” – Chauncey Billups
Coach Vinnie Del Negro had this to say about how things look on day one:
“The communication was pretty good for the first practice, since the veteran guys have been around and know what to do. It was good to get the group together, and I thought it was a very productive first day.”
It’s been less than a year, but it feels like an eternity since Blake Griffin last pulverized the humanity out of some poor soul who mistakenly believed that mere mortals could stop aerial bulldozers.
With the start of training camp right around the corner, life once again re-surges like a dry savanna being watered for the first time. The fire and curiosity that can only be aroused by a no-look lob from Chris Paul arduously adorns the glow of my very being.
Gone are the days when the dreaded malady and stench of Vinnie Del Negro paramount the youth and inexperience of a budding Clippers squad. Though I fear that at some point he will tilt the winds of change against the mast of progress, it shall be minimized by the resolute character of an expanded and experienced bench.
We’re deep…deep as the oceans of adversity we traverse.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin’s contributions toward changing the culture and perception of a once plagued franchise cannot be understated. Without the advantage of training camp and a season full of injuries, the squad’s efforts still resulted in the most successful season in Clippers history.
With Paul, Griffin, Butler, Jordan and Billups all returning to the team for the 2012-13 season, the starting lineup remains in tact, now with the benefit of the chemistry.
To augment an already solid core, the Clippers made moves during the off-season and were able to land Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill(drinks Sprite), Ronnie Turiaf (le Ronnie to you, monsieur) and most recently, Matt Barnes whose generous tattoo count instantly augments the Clippers’ street cred and cool factor.
To some, the list of characters on the bench sound like a who’s who list of “washed up” players. To me, they’re the backbone of a Western Conference Finals team. With Eric Bledsoe‘s tenacity leading the second string’s efforts, I expect a voracious and concerted effort by Lamar Odom—a man in dire need of re-focusing and resuscitating his career after seemingly having checked out in Dallas, and Grant Hill—an aging wonder who still manages to affect the outcome of games with the shrewdness that only experience, and drinking lots of Sprite, can bring to the table.
So here’s to the upcoming season! May it be one of joy, diligence, lobs and an infinite number of “settle down, Mike Smith”s.
This small piece was originally written in the spur of the moment, for the new and revamped ClipsNation.com blog over at SBNation sans images; a few small edits were made for this version.